Secretary of State Powell submitted his resignation Monday along with three other members of President Bush's cabinet: Education Secretary Rod Paige, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, and Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman. White House press secretary Scott McClellan said there was no word on Powell's successor. Most of the speculation has centered on National Security Adviser Condo- leezza Rice and UN Ambassador John Danforth, a Republican and former US senator from Missouri. Powell, whose exit after a single term with Bush had long been rumored, will stay on until his successor is named and, at least initially, will lead the US diplomatic push to support Palestinian elections for a new president following Yasser Arafat's death last week. Powell has generally represented what are considered to be more moderate views on foreign policy in the administration.

Congress reconvenes Tuesday for a post-election, lame-duck session that's expected to wrap up unfinished business while reorganizing for the new 109th Congress, which will be sworn in, in January. Democrats will need to replace Tom Daschle of South Dakota as their Senate leader. Minority Whip Harry Reid of Nevada says he has the needed votes to succeed Daschle. Meanwhile, an early test of Bush's immigration policy is anticipated, as lawmakers consider legislation that would make it more difficult for refugees to obtain political asylum in the US.

Net farm income is expected to rise nearly 25 percent to $73.7 billion this year, beating the record set last year, according to the latest Department of Agriculture forecast. The good times stem from back-to-back years of large harvests and higher milk and livestock prices.

The number of state and federal inmates facing death sentences declined in 2003, for the third straight year, to a 30-year low of 3,374, the Justice Department reported Sunday. The total dropped by 188, in part because of former Illinois GOP Gov. George Ryan's commutation of 155 death sentences in an effort to clear out death row.

Pop-rock artist Usher, whose album "Confessions" has been a chart-topping best-seller, capped a big year by collecting four trophies at the 32nd annual American Music Awards in Los Angeles. Other multiple winners were singers Sheryl Crow and Toby Keith.

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