The US Census Bureau said Thursday that New Orleans was the fastest-growing American city last year, with an estimated 13.8 percent population jump to 239,124, about half its pre-hurricane Katrina size. Victorville, Calif., grew next fastest: 9.5 percent.

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D) of Massachusetts, who has been undergoing cancer treatments and hadn't appeared in the Senate since mid-May, made a surprise visit to the chamber Wednesday to cast a decisive vote on long-stalled Medicare legislation. Above, he entered the Capitol accompanied by niece Caroline Kennedy. After the vote he returned home.

Former White House adviser Karl Rove ignored a subpoena from congressional Democrats to appear at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing Thursday to testify about whether he was involved in the firing of federal prosecutors.

The American Medical Association formally apologized Thursday to black doctors for discrimination against them, mostly during the 1800s, but by some local chapters as late as the 1960s.

The Pentagon will reopen bidding for a disputed $35 billion Air Force tanker contract, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday. His department, not the Air Force, will oversee the competition between Northrup Grumman Corp., which originally was awarded the contract, and Boeing Co.

In a $15 billion deal approved Thursday by both companies, Dow Chemical Co. bought rival chemicals maker Rohm and Haas Co. The acquisition is part of an effort by Dow to move into the specialty chemicals market.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) of California applauded the state Board of Education's action Wednesday to require a first-in-the-nation algebra test for eighth-graders, calling algebra the key that unlocks the worlds of science and technology.

A decade's worth of satellite-gathered data could soon provide a global map of the best places to locate offshore wind farms, NASA said Wednesday. The information includes speed, direction, and power of winds near the ocean surface.

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