USA

Attorney General Ashcroft asked for several hundred National Guard members to help with inspections at crossings and said he wants military helicopters to patrol the border between the US and Canada. Ashcroft said the National Guard would relieve Immigration and Naturalization Service agents who were transferred from other duties to man checkpoints along the 4,000-mile boundary following the Sept. 11 attacks. The US and Canada agreed last month to improve border security and speed the flow of trade despite greater security concerns.

The Republican Party is looking for a new national chairman after Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore resigned in advance of the 2002 elections, with control of Congress and 36 statehouses at stake. Marc Racicot, a former Montana governor and close ally of President Bush, was a likely candidate to replace Gilmore, senior Republicans said. Gilmore will leave in January, saying he can't commit to time away from family required to prepare for elections. He leaves after less than a year in office.

Houston Mayor Lee Brown (D) held off City Councilman Orlando Sanchez (R) in a tight and bitterly fought runoff to win re-election to a third term in the US's fourth-largest city. Brown, who was Houston's first black mayor, won 52 percent of votes compared to Sanchez's 48 percent. Cuban-born Sanchez would have been Houston's first Hispanic chief executive.

In some cases, the White House would consider making concessions on the death penalty and use of military tribunals to gain custody of suspected terrorists held in Europe, a senior US official said. It was the first indication the Bush administration might negotiate with countries on how terrorists will be tried. England, Italy, Germany and Spain hold suspected terrorists, but each condemns capital punishment and has signed a treaty that bans extradition to nations where it might be used. (Related story, page 4.)

Cleanup crews were conducting tests in the Hart Senate office building to measure levels of chlorine dioxide after the toxic gas was pumped in to eradicate anthrax contamination. The building has been closed since Majority Leader Tom Daschle's office received an anthrax-tainted letter Oct. 15. The Environmental Protection Agency is trying to make it safe to reopen the building where 50 senators have offices. Results on whether decontamintion was successful aren't due for a week.

Investigators said an elderly Connecticut woman who died from inhaled anthrax might have been exposed to spores sent through the mail. Traces of the bacteria were found last week in a letter in Seymour, three miles from her home, prompting authorities to suggest her mail may have been contaminated by anthrax letters sent to the media or US Capitol.

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