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The court-martial of Army Spc. Charles Graner Jr., the alleged ringleader in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, opened at Fort Hood, Texas. Graner faces several charges, including assault and conspiracy to mistreat Iraqi detainees, and if convicted by seven of 10 military jurors, all of whom have served in either Iraq or Afghanistan, he could face up to 17-1/2 years in a military prison. Graner's lawyer said he may let his client take the stand during what is expected to be a weeklong trial.

President Bush pointed to Sunday's "largely free and fair" Palestinian Authority election as "further proof" that the people of the Middle East want democracy as he reached out to new President Mahmoud Abbas Monday with a proposal for direct talks and an invitation to the White House. Congressional aides also said Bush is considering a $200 million package of new aid for the Palestinians that would be contingent on their efforts to stop violence and carry out reforms.

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The Supreme Court let stand a lower ruling that allows state prosecutors to pursue charges against two fired America West pilots accused of being drunk in the cockpit. The pilots, who were stopped from taking off from Miami International Airport in 2002, had argued that Congress carved out aviation safety as an area of federal jurisdiction and left no room for state prosecution unless there is a loss of life, injury, or damage. In other decisions Monday:

• An appeal by four men who challenged Florida's ban on adoption by gay couples was rejected.

• The justices declined to consider whether Pennsylvania elections officials were wrong to keep Ralph Nader off the presidential ballot last November.

• The court declined to consider dismissing a lawsuit, which now goes to trial, that holds gun manufacturers responsible for the 1999 shooting of a southern California letter carrier by a white supremacist.

Four CBS executives were fired Monday following the release of an independent investigation into the network's controversial "60 Minutes Wednesday" report last October about President Bush's military service, which relied on forged documents.

In research presented Monday at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society meeting in San Diego, astronomers said they may have identified the largest stars to date, a trio of supergiants, all with diameters of more than 1 billion miles, at the end of their lives.