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By ALEX CUKAN, United Press International   |   Nov. 5, 2002 at 3:15 AM
MONITORING VOTING

The Justice Department says it will send 324 federal observers and 108 department personnel to 26 counties in 14 states to monitor Tuesday's general election, United Press International reports.

The counties include many of those precincts in Florida that were bitterly contested in the 2000 presidential race.

Federal observer authority in seven counties comes from court orders and observers were assigned to another eight counties based on the special coverage provisions, the department says.

The Justice Department says observers and department personnel will monitor whether certain counties are complying with federal voting laws, such as determining whether any voters are challenged improperly on the basis of their race, color or membership in a language minority group.

-- Considering the problems in Florida alone, has the federal government allocated enough monitors?

-- Redistricting because of the U.S. Census changed some voting districts. Are you certain where you are supposed to vote?


BIN LADEN'S SON

At least 20 suspected members of al Qaida, possibly including a son of accused terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, were deported by Iran to Pakistan two months ago and handed over to the Americans, according to Pakistani intelligence officials.

The two officials -- reached by telephone in Islamabad -- confirmed media reports of the deportation Sunday, and added the suspects had been turned over to U.S. authorities, UPI reports. But whether bin Laden's son was among the group remained unclear.

"We are very pleased with the level of cooperation we have with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and we will continue working with them," the official, who works at the U.S. State Department, tells UPI.

A government spokesman in Tehran confirmed a report published in the Financial Times that bin Laden's son was among the 20 al Qaida suspects deported to what he described as "a neighboring country" two months ago.

-- Should the United States be more clear about who it has in custody?

-- Should bin Laden's son be treated any differently than others if in custody?

(Thanks to UPI South Asian Affairs Analyst Anwar Iqbal)


VENTURA APPOINTS WELLSTONE REPLACEMENT

Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura appointed Independent Dean Barkley to fill out the remaining term of Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., who was killed in a plane crash Oct. 25.

Ventura had promised to appoint a Democrat to fill the spot when the 107th Congress reconvenes Nov. 12 for its lame-duck session, UPI reports.

He changed his mind after last Tuesday's Wellstone memorial at the University of Minnesota. Ventura objected to the political tone of the event.

Barkley, 52, a former partner in a six-person law firm, has been director of Minnesota Planning, the long-range state planning agency, since 1999. Before that, he managed a furniture company, car wash and other businesses.

He ran for Congress in 1992, and the Senate in 1994 and 1996, as an independent aligned with the Reform Party.

-- Should Ventura have kept his promise to appoint a Democrat?

-- Should there be more Independents in Congress?

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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