USA

President Bush met with a bipartisan group of congressional leaders, praising their pledge to vote before the November elections on a resolution regarding Iraq. The Baghdad government's offer to readmit UN weapons inspectors is a "ploy" and Saddam Hussein is "more and more of a threat to world peace," Bush said. Sen. Tom Daschle (D) of South Dakota, who as majority leader is a frequent critic of the president, said, "I think this is an important moment for our country and for the international community to work together."

At a briefing two months before the Sept. 11 terrorism, senior government officials were told Osama bin Laden planned a major attack on US or Israeli interests, but that and similar warnings lacked specific details and often came from questionable sources. That assessment, by Eleanor Hill, staff director for the House and Senate inquiry into the attacks, was presented Wednesday at the start of their first public hearings. Sen. Bob Graham (D) of Florida said the hearings were not aimed at finger-pointing, but to identify and correct problems.

A bail hearing for six Americans of Yemeni descent was scheduled in federal court in Buffalo, N.Y. The men are charged with providing material support to a foreign terrorist group – allegedly Al Qaeda. There were indications, meanwhile, of possible US counterterrorism action in or near Yemen, with some 500 Special Operation troops and an amphibious assault ship reportedly deployed to the area.

The US trade deficit shrank in July to $34.6 billion as exports rose for a fifth consecutive month, the Commerce Department reported. Separately, the Labor Department said its Consumer Price Index rose 0.3 percent in August, the biggest gain since April, and average weekly earnings rose by an identical amount over the same period. The index is monitored closely as a gauge of retail inflation pressure.

In state primary elections Tuesday:

• State Sen. Brad Henry beat restaurant owner Vince Orza in Oklahoma's Democratic gubernatorial runoff. Henry faces Republican Steve Largent in the race to succeed retiring Gov. Frank Keating (R).

• Former Oklahoma Gov. David Walters won the Democratic nod to challenge incumbent Sen. James Inhofe (R) for his seat in November.

• State Treasurer Shannon O'Brien won the Democratic nomination for governor in Massachusetts, defeating ex-Labor Secretary Robert Reich. She now faces GOP nominee Mitt Romney, organizer of the Utah Winter Olympics.

About 1,000 supporters of medical-use marijuana – city leaders among them – attended a giveaway at city hall in Santa Cruz, Calif., Tuesday. About a dozen people received small amounts of the drug, banned under federal law but sanctioned in the state if prescribed by a physician. The event was organized to protest a recent raid by the Drug Enforcement Administration. DEA spokesman Richard Meyer said the handout sent the wrong message to children.

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