USA

John Kerry, the presumed Democratic presidential candidate, used a visit to Quincy, Ill., site of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates, to challenge President Bush to monthly faceoffs, beginning this spring. Kerry's call for a "real discussion about America's future" rather than their current exchange of TV ads and remarks was rejected by the Bush campaign, which said it looks forward to "vigorous debates at the appropriate time," namely beginning in late September, when the first of three is tentatively scheduled in the runup to the Nov. 2 election. The Massachusetts senator embarks this week on a 20-city fundraising tour, hoping to close a $100 million gap with the Bush campaign funds.

Secretary of State Powell embarked on trip to Pakistan and India with major diplomatic objectives in mind: to press the Pakistani government for full cooperation in hunting suspected terrorists, especially Osama bin Laden, near the border with Afghanistan; to gather information about the Pakistani scientist pardoned for selling nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya, and North Korea; and to promote newly revived peace talks with rival India. Powell said he also wants to nurture the budding US-Indian "strategic partnership."

Investigators in Fresno, Calif., worked through the weekend to try to determine the cause of a killing spree against nine family members by suspect Marcus Wesson. Police said Wesson was involved in polygamy and incest. Officers were first called to his home on Friday to quell a child custody dispute.

A former Virgin Atlantic Airlines pilot charged with being drunk on the job last December, had his passport lifted by a court in Loudoun County, Va., and will have to remain in the US until his Aug. 2 trial, The Washington Post reported. Richard Harwell, an American citizen who has long lived in London, was about to pilot a jumbo jet on a trans-oceanic flight when he was caught.

The 150-mile race of self- navigating vehicles across California's Mojave Desert ended in failure Saturday. All 15 entrants were knocked out of the $1 million competition less than 10 miles from the start. The competition was sponsored by a Defense Department agency seeking to develop robotic supply transports for combat zones.

Tenor Luciano Pavarotti was summoned for four curtain calls at New York's Metropolitan Opera House Saturday night as he ended a stage career that spanned more than four decades. The Italian superstar has said he'll stop singing altogether next year.

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