USA

France gave tepid support to the third draft US resolution on Iraq, saying it won't veto the proposal, while a senior Russian Foreign Ministry official said his government will submit several "very important amendments." The Bush administration wants the UN Security Council to vote this week on the resolution, which would give Iraq's interim Governing Council until Dec. 15 to produce a timetable for drafting a constitution and holding elections.

President Bush again defended the decision to invade Iraq in a series of TV interviews Monday, denying criticism that the postwar effort was poorly planned, as well as reported turf battles among senior administration officials. "The person who is in charge is me," Bush told Tribune Broadcasting. "There's a sense that people in America aren't getting the truth" about Iraq's reconstruction, he added on Hearst-Argyle Television, saying he'd gone to regional broadcasting outlets to escape "the filter" of major media preoccupied with bad news. Such arguments appear to be having an effect. A new CNN/ USA Today/Gallup poll put Bush's job-approval rating at 56 percent, up from the mid-40s in recent weeks.

Jury selection opened in the trial of sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad. He's facing capital murder and newly instituted terrorism charges in a gas station shooting in Manassas, Va., last fall. Due to intense publicity surrounding the series of attacks that killed 10 people and wounded three others, the proceedings were moved to a court in Virginia Beach, 200 miles away. Muhammad's alleged teenage accomplice, Lee Malvo, is set to go on trial Nov. 10 in nearby Chesapeake, Va.

A strike by bus mechanics in Los Angeles left up to a half-million commuters stranded. The job action followed expiration of a Monday midnight deadline for a new contract, with healthcare benefits reportedly a main sticking point in talks between the union and the Metropolitan Transport Authority. That's the same issue that led 70,000 supermarket workers in southern California to go on strike Saturday.

Seeking court intervention in a six-week-old teachers strike, the school board in Marysville, Wash., asked a state court to declare the walkout illegal. A teachers' union representative called the move "an insult." The union opposes anticipated further cuts in pay and benefits by the cash-strapped district. The strike is already the longest in state history.

Eight senior citizens from Texas died when their tour bus hit a parked tractor-trailer near Tallulah, La., Monday. Six other passengers and the drivers of both vehicles were injured in the crash. Police said the bus driver admitted he fell asleep at the wheel.

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