In endorsing Barack Obama for president, Colin Powell, a former secretary of State in president Bush's first term, called the Illinois senator a "transformational figure" on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday. Powell said he respects and admires GOP candidate John McCain but believes Obama is better suited to handle the nation's economic problems and improve America's global image.

The Obama campaign raised more than $150 million in September, an unprecedented amount bolstered by 632,000 new donors, according to details released Sunday by the campaign. The average donation from 3.1 million total contributors was $86.

The American Civil Liberties Union elected Susan Herman, a The Nature Conservancy has purchased 14,600 acres of forestland in New York's central Adirondacks in a $16 million deal that will protect Follensby Pond, the site of Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Philosophers' Camp" 150 years ago. The 19th-century intellectual movement's effort to link nature with art and literature began there. A Vermont couple sold the property, which eventually will be open to the public.

Hawaiian tourism officials said they expect the number of South Korean visitors to their state to quadruple to 160,000 by 2010 following a White House announcement lifting visa requirements for short-term South Korean stays. A handful of East European countries soon will be added to the US visa waiver program.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was a good-natured guest on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" in a much-anticipated appearance opposite comedienne Tina Fey. Fey's portrayals of the Republican vice presidential candidate have attracted widespread attention.

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