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President Bush was concluding a 10-state tour to support Republican candidates before Tuesday's midterm elections. During his weekend campaign, Bush visited Florida, where his brother, Gov. Jeb Bush, is facing Democratic challenger Bill McBride. Ex-President Clinton also was in Florida Saturday, helping to campaign for McBride. Bush made stops in other key states, notably Tennessee, Georgia, and Minnesota. Some Democrats criticized his visit to Minnesota after he did not attend Sen. Paul Wellstone's memorial service last week. Bush will cast his vote in Texas Tuesday.

The Bush administration's support for embattled Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Harvey Pitt appeared to be waning, reports said Sunday. Pitt is under investigation by the SEC's inspector-general for his handling of the selection of ex-FBI Director William Webster to head a new accounting board. Pitt reportedly did not notify fellow commissioners that Webster had headed the audit committee of a company accused of fraud. Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, soon to be the highest-ranking Republican on the committee that oversees the SEC, criticized Pitt Saturday, joining numerous other lawmakers.

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Almost 8,000 sailors and Marines boarded ships in San Diego for the Persian Gulf, bidding goodbye to loved ones Saturday in preparation for possible war against Iraq. The battle group, scheduled for a six-month deployment, is headed by the USS Constellation, which carries 72 Navy and Marine Corps aircraft, and includes a fast-attack submarine and a fast combat support ship.

Beltway sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad discussed kidnapping Antigua's prime minister and holding him for ransom, according to the chief of a government-appointed commission investigating Muhammad's activities on the Caribbean island. John Fuller said he obtained the information from a source who claims Muhammad proposed to stage the kidnapping two years ago. It was during his stay in Antigua that Muhammad developed a friendship with John Lee Malvo, who allegedly participated in the shootings.

New York was chosen as the US candidate to stage the 2012 Olympic Summer Games. The Big Apple could face such rivals as Paris, Moscow, Toronto, and Rome when the International Olympic Committee chooses the site in 2005.

A man identified only as a promoter of rap music was fatally shot as he sat in his van in New York, three days after the murder of Run-DMC founder Jam Master Jay under similar circumstances. But a police spokesman said there was no direct evidence connecting Saturday's shooting with the death of the rap icon.


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