USA

California voters will have to choose from among more than 150 candidates if they turn Gov. Gray Davis (D) out of office in an Oct. 7 recall election. Saturday was the deadline to file ballot papers in the state. Demo-crats scored a potentially important victory when insurance commissioner John Garamendi dropped out, leaving Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante as the only prominent party member on the ballot. A Time-CNN poll released Saturday showed voters were leaning toward recalling Davis, and that actor Arnold Schwarzenegger was likely to defeat Bustamante.

Turning his attention to reelection politics, President Bush hosted a barbecue for his most prolific fundraisers Saturday. The Bush campaign shuttled in about 350 people - each of whom collected at least $50,000 by June 30 for the president's 2004 campaign - to a venue near his home in Crawford, Texas. Because it was technically not a fundraiser, reporters were barred from attending. Two groups that monitor campaign-finance activities, Public Citizen and Texans for Justice, said the event showed big donors get the president's ear.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston offered $55 million to settle more than 540 claims of sexual abuse by members of its clergy. Friday's announcement came barely a week after the installation of Sean O'Malley as Archbishop, and plaintiffs' attorneys say he wasted no time in reopening communications with them and making clear his desire for an agreement.

Marking the latest salvo in the judiciary's battle with the Justice Department and Congress, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said sentencing guidelines are too tough and he favors scrapping mandatory minimum sentences for some federal crimes. Kennedy's remarks Saturday at the American Bar Association's annual meeting in San Francisco came days after Attorney General Ashcroft directed federal prosecutors to report judges who issue lighter sentences than what is recommended by federal guidelines.

State officials in Ohio sued Freddie Mac, accusing the mortgage giant of "deliberately misleading accounting practices." Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro is seeking to recover more than $25 million lost by state retirement systems for teachers and other public employees. He alleges the company's former executive team knowingly misled the public with overly vague information and allowed lower-level managers to make financial decisions even though they didn't have the proper skills and information. Related suits were filed Friday in Virginia and New York.

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