USA

Both presidential candidates confronted potentially damaging news reports Monday. The Washington Times said that several ambassadors of UN Security Council member countries disputed the assertion by Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic challenger, that before Kerry's vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq in 2002 he'd met with the entire council. Kerry's rebuttal: "It was a closed meeting and a private discussion." Meanwhile, The New York Times offered grist for the Kerry camp. His spokesman called the the disappearance of 350 tons of explosives from a former Iraqi military installation, as reported in the Times, "one of the greatest blunders" by the Bush adminstration. The president planned to focus on the economy at campaign stops today in Wisconsin and Iowa. Kerry got a lift yesterday from being joined at a campaign stop in Philadelphia by former President Clinton.

The impact that registrations of millions of new voters will have on the Nov. 2 election is unclear since both parties have gained ground in most of the fiercely contested states, The Los Angeles Times reported. Part of the uncertainty, it said, stems from a surge in independent voters.

Driven by record high crude oil prices, a gallon of self-serve regular unleaded gasoline at the pump rose more than 5 cents to an average of $2.04, according to the Lundberg survey of 7,000 gas stations. That is the highest price since June.

Chief Justice of the United States William Rehnquist is being treated for thyroid cancer at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland, the Supreme Court announced yesterday.

The National Transportation Safety Board opened an investigation into the cause of a plane crash Sunday in heavy fog near Martinsville, Va., that killed all 10 people aboard. The plane, owned by Hendrick Motorsports, a leading NASCAR team, was carrying relatives and associates of owner Rick Hendrick from its headquarters in Concord, N.C., to watch the Subway 500 race at Martinsville Speedway.

Despite committing four errors for the second straight game, the Boston Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-2, Sunday night to take a 2-0 lead in the World Series. Curt Schilling combined with three relievers to limit the Cardinals to five hits. The series resumes tonight in St. Louis for Games 3, 4, and, if necessary, 5.

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