USA

Cleanup operations after hurricane Charley moved into high gear in Florida, where 25 of 67 counties were declared disaster zones eligible for federal aid, officials declared Sunday. More than 4,000 National Guard troops, 600 law-enforcement officers, and hundreds of power-company workers have been deployed to areas along the track of the storm, which hit Friday halfway between Sarasota and Naples on the gulf coast and moved off into the Atlantic Ocean near Daytona Beach. The number of deaths rose to 16 Sunday as rescuers assessed the impact of the fiercest hurricane to strike Florida in 12 years. Insurance officials estimated that the damage to residences alone would be between $5 billion and $11 billion. Statewide, almost a million residents were without electricity, and in hard-hit Punta Gorda restoring service could take weeks, utility officials said.

The precise track of tropical storm Earl, which swirled through the Caribbean Sunday, is uncertain, but it could follow that of Charley, an official of the National Hurricane Center said. The latest projections anticipated that Earl would move south of Jamaica Tuesday and reach the Gulf of Mexico by Thursday.

President Bush promised a "more agile and more flexible" military in addressing a convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Cincinnati. "Our service members will have more time on the home front," he said, speaking of plans to move 60,000 to 70,000 troops stationed overseas to the US in the next decade. The decision grows out of a two-year Pentagon study on rearranging global deployments to be more mobile in fighting terrorism.

About half of Nevada is experiencing extreme drought, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center, which recognizes only one level as more severe on its five-step scale. Officials of the US Farm Services Agency in the state were to meet Monday to decide whether to recommend a disaster-area declaration to the governor and to the US Department of Agriculture. All 17 Nevada counties received the designation last year.

Four years after capturing 46 percent of 18-to-29-year-old voters in the presidential election, Bush's popularity with young adults has plummeted, The Washington Post reported. Its latest Post-ABC News poll shows Democratic challenger John Kerry leading Bush 2 to 1 among registered voters younger than 30.

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