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News Briefs

Bush’s Competitors Gaining Ground In GOP Presidential Race

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- CLEMSON, S.C.

After months of leading the GOP field by a margin so large that he could barely see his closest competitor, George W. Bush is confronting an intensified challenge from his two principal remaining rivals.

From one side, Arizona Sen. John McCain has surged in the critical first primary state of New Hampshire -- to the point where some analysts believe he could pass Bush in the polls by the time Bush debates his opponents for the first time Dec. 2. From the other, Steve Forbes on Monday launched a long-awaited television advertising campaign -- which, while notable for not attacking Bush, does aim to help Forbes peel away conservative votes from the Texas governor.

These new pressures come after more than a month in which Bush, though campaigning steadily, has kept a relatively low profile. He offered only a single policy speech that attracted little attention, skipped two debates in New Hampshire and stumbled in a confrontational interview with a Boston television reporter.

Unexpected Road Rage Drivers Duel to Death

THE WASHINGTON POST -- ALABASTER, AL

Gena Foster, 34, was racing to pick up her daughter at an after-school program; Shirley Henson, 40, was on her way home. But when the two cars came to a stop at a traffic light on the darkened exit ramp, Foster jumped out and started toward the immaculate black sport-utility vehicle idling behind her. The cars had been playing cat-and-mouse for the last four miles.

Inside the Toyota 4-Runner, Henson reached into the console next to the seat, where she kept a .38-caliber revolver and a cell phone. As Foster approached her door, Henson lowered the window about halfway and reached for the revolver. She fired a single shot, striking Foster in the left cheek. Foster crumpled to the pavement, blood gushing from her face, dying. Hensen spent the night in the county jail charged with murder. Out on $50,000 bond, she awaits a Dec. 1 court hearing.

But while the Nov. 8 killing was unprecedented in the upper-middle-class community of Alabaster -- consistently ranked as the safest place in Alabama -- authorities say it shouldn’t come as such a surprise. The county’s explosive growth has turned a 20-mile commute to downtown Birmingham into a roughly hour-long ordeal of stop-and-go traffic, and guns are easily accessible.

Supreme Court to Review Texas School Prayer Case

THE WASHINGTON POST -- WASHINGTON

The Supreme Court reentered the conflict over prayer in school for the first time in eight years by announcing Monday that it would rule on whether students may lead prayers over the public address system at football games.

Since 1962, when the high court first banned organized prayer in the classroom, the topic of religion in public schools has stirred political passion on both sides. Disputes over invocations at football games have been building in various parts of the country, and Monday the Supreme Court agreed to hear a Texas school district’s appeal of a federal court ruling declaring such prayers unconstitutional.

Texas Gov. George W. Bush, Republican presidential front-runner, and officials in eight other states have pressed the high court to overturn the ruling.