USA

The Bush administration was defending aspects of its Iraq policy, amid criticism by the House Intelligence Committee that it relied on outdated and faulty data on Saddam Hussein's weapons capabilities. White House spokesman Scott McClellan also denied suggestions that Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political strategist, was to blame for a press leak that exposed the wife of former US diplomat Joseph Wilson as an undercover CIA agent. Wilson had disputed Bush's claim that Iraq tried to buy African uranium. The Justice Department is considering CIA Director Tenet's request for an investigation, while some Democrats want an independent probe.

Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign to replace California Gov. Gray Davis (D) appears to be gaining momentum. Results of a CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll released Sunday show the moderate Republican leading with 40 percent support, compared with 25 percent for Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante (D) and 18 percent for GOP state Sen. Tom McClintock. The survey also found 55 percent of respondents favor recalling Davis.

Providing welcome relief for drivers, retail gasoline prices have fallen 10 cents a gallon over the past two weeks, according to analyst Trilby Lundberg. Her Lundberg Survey of 8,000 filling stations nationwide found the average price for a gallon of self-serve regular was roughly $1.65, down from a high of $1.75 per gallon Sept. 12.

Consumer spending rose a robust 0.8 percent in August, the Commerce Department reported. Such spending accounts for about two-thirds of US economic activity and is a key factor in the recovery.

Four people died when a sport utility vehicle packed with suspected illegal immigrants overturned Sunday near Glamis, Calif., north of the border with Mexico. The driver, who was among 17 people injured, faces possible smuggling and endangerment charges, the Border Patrol said. Agents had tried to stop the vehicle, but slowed their pursuit due to concerns about causing an accident.

Althea Gibson, who died Sunday in East Orange, N.J., was a pioneering sports figure in the 1950s, the first black woman to win professional tennis championships at the French Open, the precursor to the US Open, and Wimbledon. She was named Woman Athlete of the Year in 1957 and 1958 before retiring. She broke the color barrier in another sport two years later, joining the women's pro golf tour.

Elia Kazan, who died Sunday in New York, was a highly acclaimed director of screen and stage productions. He won three Academy Awards for films such as "On the Waterfront," and premiered Pulitzer Prize- winning plays such as "Death of a Salesman" and "A Streetcar Named Desire" on Broadway. He also gained notoriety for testifying against industry colleagues during the McCarthy era hunt for alleged communists.

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