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Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama will visit the West Bank as part of his swing through the Middle East next week, a Palestinian official said Monday. Likely GOP opponent John McCain passed on meeting the Palestinians during a recent visit to Israel. Obama will also travel to Iraq and Afghanistan.

At a White House press conference Monday, President Bush lifted an executive ban on offshore oil drilling, but Congress must still lift its own ban before drilling can proceed.

Anheuser-Busch accepted a sweetened $52 billion takeover offer Sunday from Belgian brewer InBev SA. The deal creates the world's largest brewery and fourth-largest consumer products company.

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The Securities and Exchange Commission said Sunday that it is opening a probe to prevent the spread of false information to investors about public companies in the marketplace.

Julian Bond, chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, told delegates at the group's convention in Cincinnati Sunday that if Barack Obama is elected as the nation's first black president, it won't signal an end to racial discrimination, but would "mark the high point of an interracial movement" that dates to the 1800s.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said 288 wildfires were still burning around the state Sunday, most in the mountains ringing the northern edge of the Central Valley. In some locations, weekend downpours triggered mudslides that complicated firefighting efforts.

The National Football League, which opens training camps this week, is spending $500,000 to refurbish the football field at Midwood High School in Brooklyn, N.Y. , the site of this fall's Public School Athletic League championships.

At the midpoint of the baseball season, the surprising Tampa Tampa Bay Rays relinquished the American League East lead to Boston by dropping their seventh straight game. Meanwhile, the New York Mets have won nine straight to move within a half game of Philadelphia in the National League East.

A specially formed 10-member team of searchers, including mountaineers, has begun a week-long effort to find the remains of multimillionaire adventurer Steve Fossett in the harsh landscape south of Reno, Nev. Previous attempts at finding Fossett ended in February, when he was declared dead five months after his plane disappeared following takeoff.

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