USA

California's secretary of state certified 135 candidates in the Oct. 7 recall election for Gov. Gray Davis (D) Wednesday, setting up a potentially lengthy vote-counting process. Among the frontrunners are actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who named billionaire investor Warren Buffett as economic advisor, and past Republican gubernatorial nominee Bill Simon. Davis, meanwhile, confirmed he's receiving advice on how to stay in office from ex-President Clinton.

President Bush was expected to steer clear of recall politics on a two-day California visit that concludes Friday. He was lunching Thursday with US Marines at Miramar Air Station, near San Diego, and attending a fundraiser. "I'm going to campaign for George W.," he told reporters Wednesday. Pressed for his views on Schwarzenegger, Bush said, "He would be a good governor, as would others."

In the latest move to prevent smuggling of nuclear materials to the US by ship, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham signed a deal with the Netherlands Wednesday to supply $3 million in radioactivity detectors to the seaport in Rotterdam. The port is the busiest in Europe.

The trade deficit shrank in June to $39.5 billion from a revised estimate of $41.5 billion in May, the Commerce Department reported. The decline was greater than many analysts anticipated, and came as exports rose 2.4 percent to $84.6 billion in June - the biggest monthly increase in three years - while overall imports remained flat.

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) is expected to sign a compromise bill to cap medical malpractice awards in a bid to lower insurance rates, after the state legislature approved it Wednesday. The measure would limit noneconomic damages at $500,000 for doctors and $750,000 for medical facilities in most cases, but would not restrict awards for lost wages or medical care.

Ruling the Kansas City, Mo., school district has done enough to desegregate and narrow the test-score gap between its black and white students, a federal judge Wednesday struck down a 26-year-old lawsuit and ended federal oversight of the system. "We worked very hard to prove we were worthy," said Superintendent Bernard Taylor Jr. after the decision. An attorney for the plaintiffs said he would appeal.

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