USA

In its most productive dragnet to date, the Justice Department said Thursday that last week's 24-state sweep snared nearly 11,000 fugitives. Among those caught by the Marshals Service were 971 unregistered sex offenders.

The productivity of American workers, as measured by output per hour, remained unchanged during the July-September quarter while labor costs rose 3.8 percent, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Meanwhile, factory orders grew a less-than-expected 2.1 percent in September, according to the Commerce Department.

Alleged terrorists intended to explode US-bound transatlantic airliners over American cities, not over the ocean as originally thought, according to comments by Mark Mershon, head of the FBI's New York office, published in Government Security News.

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the former commander of US forces in Iraq, said his retirement Wednesday was forced by his association with the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. He was cleared of criminal wrongdoing in the abuse of detainees but was passed over for a promotion.

Boosted by lower gas prices, General Motors and Ford enjoyed vehicle sales gains of 17.3 and 8 percent, respectively, in October, a major change from last year.

Novelist William Styron, who died Wednesday on Martha's Vineyard, Mass., was best known for writing "The Confessions of Nat Turner," which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1967, and "Sophie's Choice," a 1979 National Book Award winner.

The last televised debate among Massachusetts gubernatorial candidates was held Wednesday night in Boston, prior to next week's election. Either Democrat Deval Patrick is expected to become the Bay State's first elected African-American governor, or Republican Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey will spring an upset and become the first elected female governor.

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