President Bush made a surprise visit to Al Asad Air Base west of Baghdad Monday, a week before a showdown with congressional war critics pressing him to begin withdrawing troops. Bush is due to arrive in Australia Tuesday for an Asia-Pacific summit in Sydney. At the top of his agenda are efforts to spur momentum for a world trade pact and a global target on climate change.

The US leads the world in labor productivity, with each worker producing $63,885 of wealth per year, according to a UN study released Monday. Ireland comes in second at $55,986.

The House takes up the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program as Congress returns Tuesday from its August recess.

Thousands of utility customers were without power in Southern California late Sunday as scorching temperatures and scattered lightning strikes put a strain on the state's electrical grid. Dozens of cooling centers were opened for customers seeking relief.

Firefighters contained a two-month-old wildfire that burned 240,000 acres in California's Los Padres National Forest. The fire was sparked by equipment used to repair a water pipe.

Although Sen. Larry Craig (R) of Idaho says he will quit at the end of September in the wake of his sex sting guilty plea, Gov. Dirk Kempthorne (R) has not indicated yet when he will name Craig's successor. Under pressures from GOP leaders, Craig decided to resign despite later insisting he did nothing wrong.

Stepped-up inspections at the Canadian and Mexican borders have led to lines nearly as long as they were after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to the Associated Press. Border residents and businesses blame new rules that require US citizens to show driver's licenses, passports, or other photo ID.

The number of US hunters age 16 and older declined by 10 percent between 1996 and 2006 – from 14 million to about 12.5 million – according to new figures released by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The preliminary reasons, experts say, are the loss of hunting land to urbanization plus a perception by many families that they can't afford the time or costs that hunting entails.

Rookie Clay Buchholz pitched a no-hitter for the Boston Red Sox in only his second major-league outing, shutting out the Baltimore Orioles. Buchholz, who was recalled from the minors, became only the third pitcher since 1900 to throw a no-hitter in his first or second major league start.

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