USA

The mounting cost of relief and recovery operations following hurricane Katrina was being estimated as high as $150 billion. Congressional sources said they expect President Bush to ask for almost one-third of that amount since those will be "the No. 1 priority for the forseeable future." Meanwhile, results of a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll showed that 63 percent of respondents think New Orleans should be rebuilt despite the massive damage inflicted by the storm and subsequent flooding. An identical percentage said no federal employee should be fired over the much-criticized response to Katrina, and only 13 percent said Bush should be blamed for it.

All eyes in California were on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) after state legislators passed a first-in-the-nation bill endorsing same-sex marriage. The measure, previously approved by the Senate, won by six votes in the Assembly Tuesday night. The governor has not said whether he'll sign it. But he issued a statement repeating his belief that the voters or the courts should decide the issue. Californians approved a ballot initiative in 2000 that defines marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman. The state Supreme Court has since ruled that same-sex marriage licenses issued by the city of San Francisco are invalid.

Bush and retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor were scheduled to deliver tributes to William Rehnquist, the nation's 16th chief justice, at Wednesday's funeral service in Washington. Although Rehnquist was a Lutheran, his family selected St. Matthew's Roman Catholic Cathedral for its large size to hold the service.

Productivity - the output per hour of work by Americans - rose 1.8 percent in the year's second quarter, the Labor Department reported. But the rate was the slowest increase since the previous summer, and it was outpaced by labor costs, which climbed 2.5 percent between April and June. Meanwhile, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the impact on the economy of hurricane Katrina would be "significant but not overwhelming." It projected a loss of 400,000 jobs and a drop in overall growth of between 0.5 percent and 1 percent in the coming months.

Lance Armstrong, who announced his retirement from the Tour de France after winning the race for a record seventh time in July, plans to return to training with his team and may attempt a comeback, its director said. Armstrong has vigorously denied recent allegations in the French news media that he may have competed in at least the 1999 race while using performance-enhancing drugs.

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