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Briefs (left)

Afghan Commission Disqualifies
28 Candidates

By Carlotta Gall
THE NEW YORK TIMES MAIMANA, AFGHANISTAN

Afghanistan’s Elections Complaints Commission on Monday disqualified 28 candidates for violations of the country’s elections law, 21 of them for retaining links with armed militias, six days before the country’s parliamentary elections. Those disqualified included several notorious former militia commanders from various provinces, but not some of the most powerful commanders, who remain in the race.

The announcement came after numerous complaints that these commanders and militia leaders were going to dominate Sunday’s elections for parliament and provincial councils. A provision of the country’s election law bars military leaders from taking part in the election, and the government has tried to use the provision to press militia leaders to disarm and to try to keep them out of public office. A joint Afghan and international disarmament commission drew up the list of candidates found to have links with armed groups.

Eleven commanders had been disqualified in July, but people monitoring the election process said that action had been insufficient. Seven candidates were disqualified Monday for not resigning from their government positions, among them several women.

Oracle Bids $5.85 Billion for Rival
Siebel Systems

By Laurie J. Flynn
THE NEW YORK TIMES SAN FRANCISCO

Oracle Corp., the giant database-software maker, announced Monday that it would pay $5.85 billion to acquire Siebel Systems, its largest competitor in the market for sales automation programs.

The deal will bolster Oracle’s effort to topple its German rival SAP as the leading seller of business applications software for large corporations.

The acquisition comes less than a year after Oracle managed to achieve a hostile takeover of PeopleSoft Corp. for $10.3 billion after a contentious battle that had dragged on for nearly 18 months.

Oracle says its acquisition of Siebel will make it the largest seller of sales automation software — a category also known as customer relationship management software. SAP remains a far bigger supplier of business applications overall, but the Siebel acquisition, said Lawrence J. Ellison, Oracle’s chief executive, “moves us closer to our goal of being No. 1 in applications globally.”

Utility Workers Blamed for Brief
L.A. Blackout

By Randal C. Archibold
THE NEW YORK TIMES LOS ANGELES

Large areas of Los Angeles lost power on Monday after utility workers doing maintenance work accidentally cut a line, officials said.

The blackout, which occurred just after 12:30 p.m. Pacific time and lasted less than an hour in most areas, came a day after Sept. 11 and amid reports of al-Qaida threats against the city, setting off jitters citywide. Television stations broadcast dramatic images of towering flames at refineries.

But the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which provides electricity to a 400-square-mile area, blamed workers at a power station in the San Fernando Valley, and the fiery images turned out to be the routine burn-off of gas at the refineries as a precaution after some lost power.

Officials said there was no evidence of sabotage, though the Police Department went on high alert for a few hours as a precaution.

Carol Tucker, a spokeswoman for the utility, said it estimated half of the 1.5 million homes and businesses its serves were affected.