Election officials in North Carolina will begin a vote recount Monday in the Eighth Congressional District race. The outcome is part of the unfinished business left from the national midterm election Nov. 7. A Dec. 9 runoff is scheduled in Louisiana, with another in Texas slated to occur no sooner than Dec. 12. Meanwhile, disputed outcomes are pending in New Mexico, Florida, and Ohio. Democrats have won a large enough margin in Congress to maintain their new majority regardless of the late results.

For the first time Monday, one of the Air Force's unmanned Global Hawk aircraft will fly an official Air Combat Command mission over the US, according to a spokesman at Beale Air Force Base in California. The exact nature of the mission is unknown, but the drones mostly provide aerial surveillance.

President Bush agreed with a recommendation of the US Committee for Foreign Investment and approved late last week the $11.8 billion takeover of Lucent Technologies Inc. by French-owned Alcatel. The merger will create one of the world's largest telecommunications equipment suppliers. Bush concluded that the deal doesn't present any major national security concerns.

At the site of the former World Trade Center Saturday, construction workers began pouring concrete for the base of the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower. It is the first visible sign of the long-delayed building. Steel beams are slated to rise next month. While John Cahill, chief of staff to New York Gov. George Pataki (R), said the city needs to "build this site," he urged it to remain sensitive to recently unearthed 9/11 human remains.

Incoming Senate majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada set forth the Democrats' legislative priorities for the next Congress during his party's weekly Saturday radio address. In Iraq, he said a way must be found to stabilize the government and begin bringing the troops home from there. Other goals include raising the minimum wage, providing tax relief for working families, and expanding stem-cell research.

In its annual compensation survey published Monday, The Chronicle of Higher Education found that 112 of 853 public and private university presidents earn $500,000 or more in salary and benefits. The median pay package is $374,846, or about 4 percent higher than a year ago.

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