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Gonzales promises to abide by treaties

Attorney General nominee Alberto Gonzales is promising senators that he will abide by treaties prohibiting the torture of prisoners, despite deriding the restraints as relics in 2002.

White House counsel Gonzales, in line to become the first Hispanic attorney general, had a hand in much of the White House's post-Sept. 11 terrorism policies as President Bush's top lawyer.

His confirmation hearing today offers Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee a fresh chance to criticize Gonzales and the advice he gave Bush. Among the most contentious matters is a memo Gonzales wrote in January 2002 in which he argued that the fight against terrorism "renders obsolete" the Geneva Conventions' prohibitions against torture.

A month later, Bush signed an order declaring he had the authority to bypass the accords "in this or future conflicts.'

Some of Gonzales' critics say that decision and his memo led to the torture scandal at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and abuses of detainees in U.S. custody in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Rehnquist returns to Supreme Court part time

WASHINGTON _ Chief Justice William Rehnquist is back at work part time at the Supreme Court, but there is no word that he is ready to return to the bench.

Rehnquist missed about 25 court arguments in November and December while receiving chemotherapy and radiation for thyroid cancer. A Supreme Court spokeswoman said Wednesday that the 80-year-old chief justice returned to the building late last month.

Few details have been released about Rehnquist's condition. The new information about Rehnquist's work schedule sheds little light on whether his retirement is imminent. The court hasn't had a vacancy in more than a decade.

Elsewhere . . .

SPACE STATION: The space station crew is spending the new year dealing with an old problem: a broken oxygen generator. The primary machine for producing oxygen aboard the international space station _ patched and jury-rigged repeatedly last fall _ stopped working again Saturday. The cabin atmosphere was replenished Tuesday with oxygen from the supply ship that arrived Dec. 25.

BTK CASE: A Kansas serial killer known as BTK may have taken a necklace from one of his victims in 1977 and given it to a woman he was dating at the time, authorities said Wednesday. Police are looking for a necklace described as a gold chain with two pearls. Authorities are asking anyone who may have seen the necklace or received a similar necklace as a gift in December 1977 or early 1978 to call police.

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