State and local officials will make the key decisions in rebuilding sections of the Gulf Coast devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, President Bush pledged. Appearing on NBC's "Today" show while on his eighth visit to the region, Bush said the federal government would not seek to dictate terms of the recovery effort, especially in hard-hit New Orleans. On Monday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it will guarantee that some reconstruction contracts will be awarded to small "disadvantaged" businesses through competitive bidding. That was seen as a response to criticism of no-bid contracts being awarded to large construction and engineering firms.

The armed forces were to release their year-end reports on recruiting as the Monitor went to press, with only the Army expected to acknowledge that it has fallen short of its goal. It missed its target of 80,000 recruits by more than 6,600, reports said. Opinion surveys have attributed the failure to daily reports in the news media of battlefield casualties in Iraq. But acting Army Undersecretary Raymond DuBois told the Associated Press he's "confident" the service will meet its new 80,000-recruit goal for the budget year that began Oct. 1. It is seeking the OK from Congress to double the maximum enlistment bonus to $40,000.

Police evacuated students from two dormitories at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta Monday after a bottle filled with chemicals exploded on campus, injuring a school employee. Two identical bottles were detonated in a controlled explosion. Police called the incident "a terrorist act" and said it will be investigated by federal and state agencies. The incident was the third involving explosives on or near a campus in recent weeks. On Friday, Los Angeles police blew up a device found in an apartment complex housing UCLA students. Earlier this month, a University of Oklahoma student triggered an explosive belt near the school's football stadium during a game, killing himself.

A fall storm blanketed western Colorado with almost two feet of heavy snow , causing three deaths, closing 80 miles of I-70, and delaying or canceling dozens of airline flights. The interstate reopened to traffic Tuesday, but driving conditions across the area were treacherous, police said.

Baseball's postseason playoffs moved to the championship round Tuesday, with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim opening the American League best-of-seven series in Chicago against the White Sox. The Angels ousted the New York Yankees Monday, three games to two, in the league's final divisional series. The National League Championship Series opens Wednesday in St. Louis, where the Cardinals play the Houston Astros.

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