USA

Saying a federal mediator is "on the ground" and both sides should use him, President Bush urged an early end to the West Coast longshoremen's dispute that's estimated to cost $1 billion a day. The Pacific Maritime Association, which represents shipping lines and sea-terminal operators, indefinitely locked out workers at 29 West Coast ports Sunday, accusing unions of a slowdown. Contract talks stalled over pensions, benefits, and technological advances that unions worry will cost jobs.

US Sen. Robert Torricelli (D) of New Jersey abruptly withdrew his reelection bid Monday, adding a new twist to the battle for control of the Senate five weeks before the Nov. 5 election. Democrats hold a one-vote majority in the Senate, and Torricelli was lagging in opinion polls after being admonished by the Ethics Committee for accepting improper gifts. Democrats planned to name a replacement candidate by Wednesday. But they need court approval to change the ballot, a move Republicans vow to block.

WorldCom's Bernard Ebbers was among five telecommunications executives named in a landmark civil suit Monday by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. In addition to Ebbers, former executives of Qwest Communications, MacLeod USA, and the current chairman of MetroMedia Fiber Network were accused of accepting initial public offerings of lucrative stocks from Salomon Smith Barney, which hoped to win investment banking business from their companies. Spitzer is seeking the return of $1.5 billion in alleged illegal profits.

Manufacturing activity and construction spending were both down in separate monthly reports. The Institute for Supply Management, an industry group based in Tempe, Ariz., said its index of business activity fell to 49.5 in September, after seven months of growth. Meanwhile, the Commerce Department reported an 0.4 percent decline in construction spending.

After the driver was stabbed by a passenger, a Greyhound bus crashed near Fresno, Calif., killing two people and injuring 22 others. Alleged assailant Arturo Martinez was in police custody. Authorities ruled out terrorism and said they were looking into whether drugs, alcohol, or mental problems were a factor.

Three suspects aged 10 to 14 were in custody, and police were looking for as many as 18 more in an assault that left a man critically injured in Milwaukee. Police said after being hit with an egg, Charlie Young Jr. chased the boys and punched one. The youths quickly gathered friends, who counterattacked with baseball bats and other weapons.

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