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By a 54-to-44 vote, the Senate gave final approval to the Medicare prescription drug bill, sending it to President Bush for his signature. The measure will enact the most sweeping overhaul in 50 years of the federal program for the elderly and disabled. A provision barring the government from negotiating lower prices with drug companies was a key point of contention. Bush was planning to tout the legislative victory, aides said, during appearances at senior-citizens centers and fund-raising events in Las Vegas and Phoenix before returning to his Texas ranch for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Democratic presidential frontrunner Howard Dean traded sharp retorts with rivals US Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts during Monday night's candidate debate in Des Moines, Iowa. Criticized for cutting state services to the needy while serving as Vermont governor, Dean said Gephardt's researchers "need a little help." He also denied accusations by Gephardt and Kerry that he has flip-flopped on support for Medicare and on opposition to the war in Iraq. The debate was sponsored by cable channel MSNBC and preceded Iowa's first-in-the nation caucuses Jan. 19.

The US economy grew at a rapid 8.2 percent annual rate in the third quarter, faster than previously thought, the Commerce Department said. The revised gross domestic product figure for the July-September period was a full percentage point higher than last month's estimate, and more than double the 3.3 percent pace recorded in the second quarter.

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Following an automobile accident in Phoenix, country music legend Glen Campbell was arrested Monday on suspicion of drunken driving, hit and run, and aggravated assault on a police officer - for allegedly kicking a sergeant. He later was released on $2,000 bond. Campbell is known for such hits as "Rhinestone Cowboy" and "Wichita Lineman."

In a boost for striking grocery workers in Southern California, the Teamsters Union directed its members to stop making deliveries to supermarkets and distribution centers. The walkout at Vons, Albertsons, and Ralphs stores began in mid-October in a dispute centered on health benefits. Supermarket officials said plans are in place to keep stores stocked during the Thanksgiving shopping rush.

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