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The fatal predawn shooting of a commuter at a bus stop in Aspen Hill, Md., triggered a massive police response to what was widely suspected as the 13th attack by a serial sniper. The incident came as classes for 200,000 students in the Richmond., Va., area were suspended for a second day due to security concerns after a shooting Saturday. Police indicated they had made contact with the gunman as a result of a note found at that scene, but publicly asked for another phone call because of a poor connection. Two men detained Monday for questioning in the case turned out to be illegal immigrants with no connection to the sniper, police said.

Calling it "vitally important," President Bush urged Americans to vote in Nov. 5 midterm elections. At an event in Downingtown, Pa., for James Gerlach (R), who is running for a House seat, Bush said he hoped voters would support Republican candidates. The stop, and a later one in Bangor, Maine, are the president's last scheduled campaign appearances before Election Day. He has appeared at 66 GOP fund-raisers this year that have brought in a reported $140 million.

In a sign of steadily improving bilateral relations, Chinese President Jiang Zemin embarked on a US visit as Attorney General Ashcroft arrived in Beijing to open an FBI office as part of counterterrorism efforts. Jiang will attend a Friday summit with Bush at the latter's Texas ranch. Likely topics for the meeting include Iraq, trade, Taiwan, North Korea's nuclear weapons program, and human rights. It comes ahead of Jiang's expected resignation from leadership posts at the annual Communist Party congress.

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The widely watched index of leading economic indicators fell 0.2 percent in September, the Conference Board reported Monday. The New York research group's assessment of economic strength in the next six months was in line with expectations, analysts said.

Six Yemeni-Americans were to be arraigned on terrorism-related charges in federal court in Buffalo, N.Y. as the Monitor went to press. A grand jury indictment issued Monday backed previous charges by US prosecutors that the men conspired with – and provided material support to – Al Qaeda. Defense lawyers maintain their clients traveled to Pakistan for Islamic religious instruction last year, not an Afghan military training camp, as alleged.

Hundreds of supporters attended a vigil for a Baltimore woman and five children who died in an arson fire at their inner-city rowhouse after Angela Dawson complained about drug dealers in the community. Her husband, Carnell Dawson, was badly injured in the blaze last Wednesday. A suspect described by police as having a "drug history" is charged in the attack.

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