USA

In a final push before Tuesday's national election, President Bush and John Kerry, his Democratic challenger, crisscrossed the Midwest and visited Florida over the weekend, trying to shore up support in a race that polls show is too close to call. While visiting battleground states such as Ohio and Wisconsin, the candidates responded to Osama bin Laden's latest videotape message, which surfaced Friday. Bush said the outcome of the election will "set the direction of the war against terror." Kerry said, if elected, he would hunt down bin Laden, but also criticized the president for being "wrong to divert our forces from Afghanistan so that we could rush to war in Iraq." Bush and Kerry essentially are fighting over eight to 10 states they consider critical to securing the 270 electoral votes needed to win.

The Bush administration left the terror threat level unchanged, despite warning state and local officials Friday that the first videotaped message from Osama bin Laden in almost three years could portend a new terrorist attack. On the tape, which is being analyzed by US intelligence officials, bin Laden says the US must stop threatening the security of Muslims if it wants to avoid "another Manhattan." Government officials were trying to determine whether there are any links to a tape broadcast late last week by ABC News in which a self-proclaimed American jihadist, whose face was covered, threatened violence on US soil.

Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood asked the Justice Department to investigate potential double voting by people who have residences in other states as well. The Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper reported Sunday that thousands of people registered in Ohio and Florida could vote twice in the presidential election through use of absentee ballots. About 11,000 Republicans and 9,600 Democrats are registered in both states, records show. Such people are supposed to declare themselves primary residents of one state for voting purposes.

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader, who will be on 34 state ballots, said at a weekend rally in Connecticut he will retaliate against the Democrats after Election Day for what he called their "constitutional crimes" - efforts to keep him off a number of state ballots. He said the strategy would include litigation and infiltration of the Democratic Party by his supporters. Critics contend that Nader's candidacy in 2000 cost Democrat Al Gore the election. Above, Nader speaks during a stop in Birmingham, Ala.

Despite rain and fog, a crowd estimated in excess of 3 million people, the largest in Boston history, lined a seven-mile parade route Saturday to cheer the members of the Red Sox, who brought the city its first World Series championship in 86 years.

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