USA

Afghans will receive $295 million in new humanitarian assistance, bringing to $320 million the total of US aid, President Bush said. Funds will go toward helping those inside the country as well as refugees in neighboring nations affected by drought and famine or needing medical assistance. In announcing the aid, Bush said: "While we firmly and strongly oppose the Taliban regime, we are friends of the Afghan people." Aid will be distributed by the Red Cross, the UN, and other groups. (Related stories, pages 6 , 7.)

Heating fuel and gasoline prices are expected to be sharply lower this winter, with a typical household projected to spend 34 percent less to warm their homes than last year, the Energy Department reported. Gasoline prices also are projected to decline nationally to below $1.35 a gallon. The average price at the pump has already fallen 11 cents since the Sept. 11 attacks. Low oil prices, rising inventories, and the sagging economy all contribute to lower energy costs.

New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) said he won't press for a third term but repeated his offer to stay on for an extra three months, following the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attacks. Such a move would keep him in office until April 1 to ease his successor's transition. Two of the three candidates running for mayor support the idea, but even a short extension likely would require state legislative approval.

Blue-chip stocks regained more than 900 points, or 65 percent of the 1,369 they lost in the first week of trading after the Sept. 11 attacks, reports said. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 173 points Wednesday, closing above 9,000 for the first time since the attacks. Buyers responded to Bush's urging that Congress approve a $60 billion to $75 billion economic stimulus plan and to the Federal Reserve's reducing interest rates for the ninth time this year to 2.5 percent, the lowest level since 1962.

The attacker who caused a Greyhound bus crash that killed six people near Manchester, Tenn., early Wednesday was identified as a Croatian national. Thirty-four others were injured. But contrary to earlier reports, driver Garfield Sands survived the crash and sought help for the injured.

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