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Democratic lawmakers blasted President Bush over projections of a record $455 billion deficit this year. Bush is "taking us right over the fiscal cliff," Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota, ranking Democrat on the Budget Committee, said Tuesday. "There seems to be no shame, no shock, and no solution," added his House counterpart, Rep. John Spratt of South Carolina. While the deficit is a "legitimate subject for concern," White House budget director Joshua Bolten countered, it is "manageable" and reflects the administration's post-Sept. 11, 2001, focus on counterterrorism and on stimulating the economy via tax cuts.

A change of venue is "clearly" necessary to ensure a fair trial for sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad, a state court judge in Virginia ruled, moving the proceeding from Manassas to Virginia Beach, 200 miles away. The trial is set to begin Oct. 14. Muhammad and alleged accomplice Lee Malvo, who also won a change of venue earlier this month, are linked to 20 shootings, 13 of them fatal, in the Washington area and beyond. Both face the death penalty if convicted.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) asked Bush to declare federal disasters in 15 counties battered by hurricane Claudette, as remnants of the storm turned south into Mexico. Perry also OK'd state relief and sent the National Guard to assist in recovery efforts. Heavy rains, wind, and flooding from the storm caused two deaths and extensive damage along 260 miles of the state's Gulf Coast.

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National contract talks between the Big Three US automakers - General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler - and the United Auto Workers union were opening in Detroit, with both sides anticipating a long and contentious process. Current contracts expire Sept. 14.

Fifty-one percent of likely California voters would approve the recall of Gov. Gray Davis (D), according to poll by the nonpartisan Field Research Corp. In a phone survey of 1,500 adults, 43 percent of registered voters who said they're likely to parti-cipate opposed his removal; 6 percent were undecided. Many respondents said their decision will be influenced by the replacement candidates and how Davis and lawmakers resolve their standoff over the state's $38 billion budget shortfall.

The state of Rhode Island and the Narragansett Tribe were squaring off in court over tax-free tobacco sales. State police raided a new tobacco shop run by the tribe Monday, arresting seven people; several others were injured in the process. The tribe asked a US district court Tuesday uphold its right to such sales. The attorney general asked a state superior court to declare them illegal.

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