Bush nominates Roberts as chief justice

WASHINGTON - Seizing a historic opportunity to reshape the Supreme Court, President Bush swiftly chose conservative John Roberts as chief justice Monday and weighed how to fill another vacancy that could push the nation's highest court to the right.

Roberts had been on a likely track to be confirmed as an associate justice and it appeared Bush turned to him for the top job after William Rehnquist's death to avoid an acrimonious fight at a volatile moment. Bush was on the defensive about the administration's sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina and his poll ratings had fallen to their lowest point of his presidency.

''For the past two months, members of the United States Senate and the American people have learned about the career and character of Judge Roberts,'' Bush said. ''They like what they see.''

Experts forecast slowdown in housing market

WASHINGTON - The nation's red-hot housing market may finally be nearing its peak, meaning the end of double-digit annual percentage price gains for homeowners and potential trouble for more recent purchasers who stretched to buy.

That's the assessment of economists, who concede they have been forecasting a cooldown in housing for some time only to be confounded as sales and prices continued to boom.

Companies have trouble making sex pill for women

SAN FRANCISCO - Drug companies make $2.5 billion a year selling Viagra, Cialis and Levitra to help men enjoy sex. Since more women suffer from sexual dysfunction than men, developing a drug that could double those sales would seem to be a no-brainer.

Yet the pharmaceutical industry has failed women miserably - there isn't a single sexual dysfunction drug on the market that can help them. Pfizer Inc. last year abandoned an eight-year Viagra study involving 3,000 women, conceding that its famous blue pill only works for men.

Half of refineries close to restarting

JACKSON, Miss. - As half of the Gulf Coast refineries damaged by Hurricane Katrina begin to ramp up production this week, industry experts have this message: be patient.

The going is also slow for the restoration of offshore oil and gas production. Almost 70 percent of normal oil production and half of the natural gas output remains shut down, according to the U.S. Minerals Management Service, which said activity is slowly recovering.

Vt., Va. courts to hear lesbian custody case

MONTPELIER, Vt. - Battles over the custody of children between estranged spouses are nothing new. But this one involves a child born to a lesbian couple in a since-dissolved civil union.

And the case might end up in the U.S. Supreme Court because it produced dueling court rulings in Vermont, the first state to legally recognize same-sex relationships, and Virginia, which has a law saying neither same-sex marriages nor civil unions carry the force of law in that state.

The case comes up for argument before the Vermont Supreme Court on Wednesday and before the Virginia Court of Appeals a week later.

Janet Jenkins, now 40, and Lisa Miller, 36, both Virginia natives, fell in love in their home state, came to Vermont in 2001 just long enough to get a civil union and returned home. In Virginia, Miller got pregnant by artificial insemination and gave birth in April 2002 to a girl they named Isabella.

- From wire reports