USA

President Bush meets Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for discussions on the road map to peace, with the release of Palestinian prisoners, roadblocks, and a wall separating the West Bank from Israel among the main points to cover. Sharon's Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, was at the White House Friday to present a list of grievances against the Israeli government.

In a key step toward ending California's budget stalemate, the state Senate approved an almost $100 billion compromise spending bill Sunday. "There's something in here for almost everybody to hate," said Sen. and President Pro Tem John Burton (D), who helped negotiate the package. It contains $13 billion in budget cuts and no new taxes. But it leaves the state with a projected $8 billion shortfall going into next year. Gov. Gray Davis (D), who faces a recall vote Oct. 7, urged the state Assembly to pass the measure quickly so he can sign it.

Making their first appearances at the same venue, Bush and seven of the nine Democrats vying to challenge him in the 2004 presidential election were addressing a conference of the National Urban League, an organization that represents black Americans, in Pittsburgh. Delegates would be paying close attention to their views on the economy, unemployment, education, affirmative action, and civil rights, said the group's president, Marc Morial. Bush fared poorly among black voters in the 2000 election and skipped the recent gathering of another prominent black organization, the NAACP, citing a tight schedule.

Florida's state attorney ordered an inquest into the death of a black man found hanging from a tree outside his grandmother's house in Belle Glade, amid rumors of a possible lynching. Relatives claimed Feraris Golden had his hands tied behind his back, but police in the racially mixed farming community concluded his death in May was a suicide. The police chief said a video taken at the scene showed Golden with his hands at his sides.

Cleanup efforts were under way in the Midwest from flooding and heavy weekend storms. The severe weather forced about 300 people to evacuate homes in the Akron, Ohio, area and left 22,000 Illinois residents without electricity.

Legendary entertainer Bob Hope, who died Sunday in Toluca Lake, Calif., had a comedy career that spanned more than seven decades. Hope, who was 100, worked in vaudeville, radio, television, and appeared in more than 50 films. He was credited with pioneering the buddy movie in popular "Road" pictures with costar Bing Crosby. Hope also was renowned for performing for US troops overseas. Among numerous awards, Hope received four honorary Oscars and the Presidential Medal of Freedom and was designated an honorary veteran by Congress.

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