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The White House defended a new policy that limits Iraq- reconstruction contracts to countries that were supportive of the US-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime. The policy became public knowledge late Tuesday. The governments of France, Germany, and Canada blasted the decision, with Canadian Deputy Prime Minister John Manley saying, "it would be difficult for us to give further money" to help rebuild the war-torn nation. German government officials called the decision "unacceptable." The Pentagon said it would block companies from countries opposed to the war from bidding on 26 projects worth $18.6 billion.

By a 5-to-4 vote, the Supreme Court upheld a key provision of the controversial new Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, ruling that "soft money" contributions to political parties may be banned. The so-called McCain-Finegold law also restricts certain types of campaign advertising in the final months leading up to elections. Unlimited contributions were allowed under federal elections law as long as they were earmarked for party support, not candidates.

San Franciscans chose millionaire restaurateur Gavin Newsom as their new mayor over Green Party activist Matt Gonzalez Tuesday. Newsom won 52 percent of the vote to Gonzalez's 47 percent. If he'd won, Gonzalez, who enjoyed a groundswell of support from the city's artistic community, would have been the Green Party's most prominent elected public official.

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US Sen. Joseph Lieberman downplayed the endorsement by his ex-running mate of Howard Dean for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination next year. In the final debate among Democratic hopefuls Tuesday night in Durham, N.H., Lieberman said Al Gore's nod to Dean would help, not hurt, his own campaign. Gore's endorsement was the subject of much of the debate, which took place about a month before the state's first-in-the-nation primary. Dean urged his rivals to direct their criticism of the endoresement at him rather than at the former vice president.

Paul Simon, who died Tuesday in a Springfield, Ill., hospital was being remembered by his former US Senate colleagues as having a flair for grass-roots politics. Simon, who was in recovery from heart surgery, represented Illinois in the Senate for two terms before retiring from Congress in 1997. He was easily recognizable nationally for his bow tie. In 1988, he unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for president. A former newspaperman, he was the author of 13 books.

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