USA

President Bush claimed credit, after the latest in a series of encouraging economic reports. In the past three months, the US economy has created 300,000 jobs, pushing unemployment down to 6 percent in October from 6.1 percent in previous months, the Labor Department said Friday. "America's economy is getting stronger every day," Bush said in his Saturday radio address. He attributed the improvement to his tax cuts, and was expected to highlight his policies further at a speech Monday in North Carolina.

Becoming the first Democratic presidential candidate to reject taxpayer money for his campaign, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean Saturday said he had to compete with Bush's lucrative funding efforts. "We have supported public financing, but the unabashed actions of this president to undercut our Democratic processes with floods of special-interest money have forced us to abandon a broken system," Dean said at a news conference in Burlington, Vt. By forgoing public money, Dean can spend unlimited funds while pursuing his party's 2004 nomination and, if he wins, through the summer for the general election.

After the Environmental Protection Agency announced last week that it may drop investigations into alleged violations of the Clean Air Act, Attorneys General in Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey said Saturday that they are considering suing about a dozen coal-burning power plants for breaking pollution rules. The suits would examine investigations dropped after the Bush administration changed provisions of the law, to make it easier for plants to modernize without having to install expensive pollution control systems.

Police arrested a man suspected in the killing of Cincinnati Reds outfielder Darnell Stenson, charging him with theft of the player's vehicle. David Griffith surrendered Saturday in an area east of Phoenix, authorities said. Griffith hasn't been charged with the murder, but is among three men detained in connection with the case. Stenson was found dead last week after being shot and run over, apparently by his own SUV.

At least nine people have been arrested nationwide in cases involving counterfeits of the new $20 bill, officials said, only a month after the rollout of a redesigned currency that is supposed to thwart them. Nearly 200 bogus versions of the new bill have surfaced, said Jean Mitchell, spokeswoman for the US Secret Service. The agency believes more arrests will follow as counterfeiters try to slip phony bills past busy cashiers in the holiday shopping season.

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