Energy Department officials briefed President Bush on hurricane Rita's impact on the oil and natural gas industries, which Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) said had suffered a "glancing blow at worst." Still, 16 refineries remained shut down and Bush said that the government is again prepared to tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to "mitigate any shortfall in crude oil," even though futures prices were falling as of midday. Retail gasoline prices, which soared to record highs in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, also were down by an average of 20 cents a gallon during the past two weeks, according to the nationwide Lundberg Survey of 7,000 filling stations. The average price of self-serve regular, according to the survey: $2.81 a gallon.

The staggered, three-day plan devised by city officials in Houston after Rita to create an "orderly migration" back into the city is scheduled to end Tuesday. Meanwhile, by Sunday night, only two deaths were being blamed on the storm. In Louisiana, rescuers were scouring rural areas for people stranded by floodwaters, while the Army Corps of Engineers said sections of New Orleans that had flooded again could be pumped dry within a week of making levee repairs.

The US military said it will release more than 1,000 detainees at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. The release of those not deemed guilty of "serious, violent crimes" was called the largest to date. In related news, the court-martial of Army Pfc. Lynndie England, a guard implicated in the Abu Ghraib scandal, is expected to wind up this week at Fort Hood, Texas.

About half the ancient masterpieces in the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles were bought from dealers suspected of selling artifacts embezzled from Italy, according to media reports that cite museum lawyers. Italian authorities have charged Getty's antiquities curator Marion True and two dealers with conspiring to traffic in looted artworks and are demanding the return of 42 urns, vases, and other pieces.

The red-hot housing market shows no sign of cooling off, with the pace of sales of previously owned homes rising 2 percent in August, the highest jump in 26 years, the National Association of Realtors reported Monday.

The rate of victim-reported violent crimes - assaults, sexual assaults, and armed robberies - was basically unchanged in 2004 from the year before, when it was the lowest since the federal government began compiling such statistics, the Justice Department reported. It said one violent crime occurs for every 47 US residents. A record prison population and the addition to local police forces of 100,000 more officers have been cited as possible reasons for the drop.

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