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A Republican Party offer of a Sept. 11 photo of President Bush in exchange for donations "is a disappointment" and risks bipartisan support for the counterterrorism war, said House minority leader Richard Gephardt (D) of Missouri. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R) of Illinois said criticism of the fund-raising effort likely would cause his party to "think twice" about doing it again, but both he and Senate Republican leader Trent Lott of Mississippi said they wanted copies of the picture. The controversy gained momentum as Bush (above, l.) appeared at a gala fund-raiser Tuesday night that took in $33 million for the Republican National Committee, a single-night record. (Story, page 3.)

The FBI is forming a special counterterrorism unit to oversee global investigations and coordinate and evaluate intelligence, the Associated Press reported, citing unidentified officials. The team, to be based in Washington, is part of a broader reorganization by bureau director Robert Mueller in response to sharp criticism over the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the Robert Hanssen spy case. Hanssen, a former FBI agent, was arrested last year after turning over US secrets to Russia and, before it, the Soviet Union for more than a decade.

The mother of a suspect charged with shooting and wounding a Roman Catholic priest in Baltimore says her son "was not in the right state of mind" at the time of Monday's incident. Dontee Stokes had accused the Rev. Maurice Blackwell of molesting him as a teenager and wanted an apology, his mother said. The priest refused to talk to him. Stokes was due to appear in court Wednesday for a bail review. He was charged with attempted murder, assault, and gun violations after surrendering to authorities.

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In the first look at consumer confidence this month, The Christian Science Monitor/TIPP economic optimism index edged up slightly to 60.6 from 60.5 in April. Among poll respondents earning less than $30,000 a year, the index found confidence rose more sharply – to 60.5 from 56.7 last month; while for those in the $75,000-plus income category, that figure dropped to 62.3, from 67.0 in April.

A controversial proposal to build Indian-run casinos in Niagra Falls and Buffalo, New York, won narrow approval from the Seneca Nation. About 45 percent of those eligible cast ballots in Tuesday's vote at the Cattaraugus and Allegany reservations. Senecas opposed to the 14-year compact, which would share some profits with New York State, had urged a boycott.

The Mississippi River was expected to crest at nine feet above flood stage in St. Louis. Flooding from severe storms is blamed for nine deaths in Missouri in the past week, with weather forecasters predicting more heavy rains for the region today and tomorrow. Severe flooding also was reported for the Kankakee and White rivers in Indiana and the Sangamon and Illinois rivers in central Illinois.

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