President Bush is due to send Congress a $2.3 trillion budget monday that calls for strict curbs on spending but still projects a record $521 billion deficit. "This is going to be a challenging year for making sure we spend the people's money wisely," Bush said Saturday at a GOP strategy meeting in Philadelphia. He will press on with efforts to make most of his tax cuts permanent but may back away on a Medicare prescription-drug program after a review found it would cost tens of billions more than expected, The New York Times reported.

Democratic front-runner John Kerry blasted Bush's policies, while coming under fire himself from rivals for his party's presidential nomination while campaigning for tuesday's primaries. Howard Dean called Kerry a "handmaiden of special interests" Saturday. Late opinion polls give Kerry wide leads in Missouri and Arizona and a narrow lead in Oklahoma. Voters in South Carolina, Dela-ware, North Dakota, and New Mexico also are casting ballots. Above, supporters of John Edwards in Columbia, S.C., check maps as they head door-to-door to drum up votes for their candidate.

Reconsidering his earlier opposition, Bush may endorse an independent inquiry into intelligence failures on Iraqi weapons capabilities, administration officials said. The president, who'd rejected calls for a probe as politically motivated, reportedly is under mounting pressure from Republicans as well as Demo- crats. Last week, the former chief US weapons inspector in Iraq said he believed Bush's decision to go to war, although otherwise justified, was based in part on erroneous data.

A fresh security alert prompted cancellation of at least 10 US-bound flights from Europe Saturday and Sunday, with more planned monday. Most involved British Airways and Air France flights from London and Paris. Intelligence suggested Al Qaeda was planning a terrorist attack using a chemical or biological agent such as anthrax or smallpox, The Washington Post reported, citing sources in the Bush administration.

Four supermarket chains are expected to face antitrust charges in California monday. Three of the chains - Albertsons, Safeway, and Ralphs - are locked in a labor dispute that has kept 70,000 workers off the job since mid-October. But state attorney general Bill Lockyer said a cost- and revenue-sharing agreement reached weeks before the walkout "hurts consumers by discouraging competitive pricing."

A task force is analyzing calls from a man who declared "I'm the highway shooter," during four closely timed conversations with a 911 dispatcher, police in Columbus, Ohio, said Friday. The calls represent the first claim of responsibility in 20 shootings - one of them fatal - since May in the I-270 area. However, the self-professed shooter spoke of firing at a car on a different route, police said.

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