A group of New York City politicians asked Gov. George Pataki Sunday to declare a state of disaster in Queens, where outages left 100,000 residents without power. A Pataki spokeswoman said utility giant Con Edison should be financially responsible for the blackouts, which hit on July 17. By Monday morning crews had restored power in much of the area, but 3,000 customers remain in the dark.

After weathering powerful storms and scorching heat, St. Louis began a massive cleaning operation Sunday. More than 100 dump trucks rolled through city streets collecting mangled trees and branches that had cut power to hundreds of thousands of residents.

A panel of legal scholars and lawyers from the American Bar Association issued a report Monday that sharply criticized President Bush's use of "signing statements" to assert his right to ignore or not enforce laws passed by Congress. Bush has lodged more challenges to provisions of laws than all previous presidents combined. The panel described the development as a serious threat to the Constitution's system of checks and balances, and they urged Congress to pass legislation permitting court review of such statements.

Investigators in Indiana scoured hundreds of miles of highway on Sunday for clues to a killer after two sets of sniper attacks within hours of each other left one man dead, another wounded, and four vehicles peppered with bullet holes.

Portsmouth, N.H., will begin using recycled biodiesel in several of its city vehicles this week. The test fuel, derived from cooking oil, will power five trash packers and three trucks that collect recyclables. If all goes well, the city hopes to switch over all its diesel vehicles to the alternative fuel.

Thousands across the country rallied on Sunday to support or to denounce Israel's military campaign in southern Lebanon. In Dearborn, Mich., more than 1,000 Lebanese supporters gathered to pray for those killed, injured, or displaced by the conflict.

Fire crews moved into Santa Catalina Island to battle a brush blaze that has swept through 2 square miles of the island off the coast of Los Angeles. Firefighters have raced around California to combat multiple fires sparked during the recent record-setting heat wave.

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