Richard Grasso resigned as chairman of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) Wednesday, amid furor over his $140 million compensation package. While legal, critics called the amount exorbitant and said it undermined the credibility of the exchange as a regulatory watchdog. The NYSE board is looking for a permanent replacement but said it won't appoint an interim one, reportedly after prominent San Francisco attorney Larry Sonsini declined the post. Grasso was the first NYSE chairman to work his way up through its ranks and is highly respected for his leadership skills.

President Bush formally submitted his request for $87 billion in funding for Iraq and Afghan-istan to Congress Wednesday. Approval is widely expected, but only after considerable debate. Democrats reportedly intend to intensify demands for tax-cut rollbacks amid concerns about the sharply escalating federal deficit.

Hurricane Isabel's approach prompted Bush to leave a day early for the Camp David, Md., retreat where he's playing host to Jordan's King Abdullah. Subways, schools, and many federal offices in Washington were closed, following similar moves by state and municipal governments in the region. At midday Thursday, the vast storm was centered about 55 miles south of Cape Hatteras, N.C., with sustained winds of 100 m.p.h.

General Motors and the United Auto Workers Union announced tentative agreement on a new four-year contract. GM was the last holdout among the Big Three US automakers in negotiations with the union, after the latter reached deals with Ford and DaimlerChrysler's US subsidiary earlier in the week.

Arguing that a delay in the gubernatorial recall would provoke a "constitutional crisis," and be unfair to absentee voters, California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley (D) asked the full 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a postponement ruling. The court is considering whether to name an 11-judge panel to rehear the case.

Police fatally shot a gunman who took a dozen people hostage at Tennessee's Dyersburg State Community College Wednesday, ending a nine-hour standoff. Two hostages were injured. The FBI was investigating because Harold Kilpatrick Jr. reportedly left a suicide note claiming contacts with Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, although police doubted that assertion.

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