USA

Declaring Florida a major disaster area in the aftermath of hurricane Charley, President Bush joined his brother, Gov. Jeb Bush (R), in a flyover Sunday of hard-hit Charlotte County. The category 4 storm packed winds of up to 145 m.p.h, killed at least 13 people, and left thousands of others homeless. Emergency officials called it the worst storm to hit the state since Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which caused almost $20 billion in insured property losses. Because Charley, which sloshed through the Carolinas and Virginia as a weakening tropical storm, cut a narrower path than most storms of its intensity, state officials said early estimates of its residential property damage ranged from $5 billion to $11 billion.

In a speech he'll give Monday to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Cincinnati, President Bush will call for about 70,000 US troops posted mostly in Europe and Asia to return to home, senior administration officials said. They did not give a timetable, but said the reassignment will not affect military personnel in Iraq or Afghanistan. About 200,000 uniformed military personnel are stationed abroad, half of them in Europe.

A growing chorus of New Jersey lawmakers and news commentators called for the immediate exit of Gov. James McGreevey (D), who said he'd resign after divulging late last week that he'd had an extramarital affair with former campaign aide and state public security adviser Golan Cipel. According to the Associated Press, Cipel, who claims McGreevey sexually harassed him, was pushing for a settlement of up to $50 million before the governor's announcement. Because New Jersey has no lieutenant governor, Senate President Richard Codey (D) would take over Nov. 15 and serve until January 2006.

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The California Supreme Court ruled unanimously late last week that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (D) overstepped his authority in ordering the city to issue marriage licenses to almost 4,000 same-sex couples in February and March. The justices voided those marriages but left their legality in question until the courts can resolve the constitutionality of state laws that define marriage. Newsom said he was proud of what he had done.

Legendary culinary author and TV personality Julia Child, who died Friday in Montecito, Calif., was best known for her exuberance and charm as the instructor on the pioneering cooking show, "The French Chef," and as the co-author of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." The book has sold more than 1 million copies since 1961. In 2003 Child was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest honor for civilians.

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