US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick is resigning from the department's No 2. post to join the private sector, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced Monday. Zoellick, who served six years in the Bush administration and handled the situation in Sudan's Darfur region and talks with China, said he would join the Wall Street investment house Goldman Sachs Group Inc. He is expected to leave the State Department in July, officials said.

Episcopalians elected the first female Anglican leader in history on Monday. Nevada Bishop Katherine Jeffers Schori, who is also an oceanographer and pilot, is the first woman in the world to lead any church in the Anglican Communion. Only two of the 37 other Anglican provinces - New Zealand and Canada - have female bishops, although some allow women to serve in the post. Jeffers Schori collected 95 votes; with 93 others split between six candidates, all men.

A wildfire in Northern Arizona forced the evacuation of more than 400 homes and businesses on Sunday. The fast-moving wildfire burned more than 1,000 acres in Arizona's Oak Creek Canyon, an area 90 miles north of Phoenix, that is home to hotels, stores, and residences. Fire crews were positioned to protect homes from the fire, which has burned to within a mile of some of the buildings.

Democrats plan to offer a resolution in the Senate Tuesday seeking a timetable for a phased withdrawal from Iraq. Recent polls show that the majority of Americans favor the withdrawal but White House spokesman Tony Snow said President Bush would not consider it. The House last week approved a nonbinding resolution which rejected a deadline for US troops to leave Iraq and called the conflict part of the broader war on terrorism. There are about 129,000 US troops in Iraq and The military death toll since the invasion reached 2,500 last week.

Philanthropic giving in America reached its highest level since the end of the technology boom as a result of the needs created by three major natural disasters, a report says. The tsunami in Asia, the earthquake in Pakistan and hurricanes Rita, Katrina and Wilma drove Americans to give $260.28 billion in 2005, a rise of 6.1 percent according to Giving USA foundation.

A 1907 portrait by Gustav Klimt has been purchased by cosmetics magnate Ronald S. Lauder for $135 million, the highest amount ever paid for a painting, The New York Times reported. The portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, the wife of a Jewish sugar industrialist, is considered one of Klimt's masterpieces.

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