Chinese Muslims to Be

Freed From Guantanamo

Defense officials have authorized the release of a majority of the 22 Chinese Muslims being held at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the State Department said yesterday.

Spokesman Richard Boucher said the Bush administration is trying to relocate the Uighurs, who are from northwest China, to a third country because they do not wish to resettle in China. Boucher said it is unclear whether they would be eligible for asylum in the United States.

The State Department has contacted a number of countries about the resettlement of the Uighurs. One country, which an official would not identify, has indicated interest.

Amnesty International has said the Uighurs should not be returned to China because they could face torture and possible execution.

Some Uighurs support independence from China for their province, Xinjiang. China says the independence fighters are tied to al Qaeda.

Soft Money for Recounts

Backed by FEC Members

The Federal Election Commission signaled that presidential and other federal candidates could set up "soft money" accounts to take unlimited contributions from individuals to finance recounts.

The commission did not take a vote. But four members -- enough to set policy -- all spoke out in favor of the soft-money funds. Federal candidates and the national political parties are prohibited by the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law from accepting soft-money contributions.

Republican commissioner Michael Toner said recount committees could accept unlimited amounts from individuals and political action committees that have collected FEC-regulated money. Contributions of money from corporations and unions would be prohibited.

S.D. Race Is Costliest

Congressional Battle

The South Dakota race that will determine whether Senate Democratic leader Thomas A. Daschle stays on Capitol Hill is the costliest congressional battle so far this year.

Daschle and Republican John Thune spent a total of $26.3 million through the first half of this month, a Federal Election Commission analysis found. Of that amount, Daschle spent about $16 million and Thune about $10 million.

In all, Senate and House candidates competing in Tuesday's elections have spent at least $711.6 million in this election cycle, up about 15 percent from 2002, the FEC said.

The five costliest Senate races through mid-October include:

* Pennsylvania's Senate race between Republican incumbent Arlen Specter and Democratic Rep. Joseph M. Hoeffel III, $21.4 million. About $17.6 million of that was spent by Specter, who faced an expensive primary challenge.

* California's Senate race between Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer and Republican Bill Jones, $19.7 million. Boxer spent about $13 million of that.

* The race between Democrat Erskine B. Bowles and Republican Rep. Richard Burr in North Carolina for the Senate seat being vacated by John Edwards. Burr spent about $9.8 million, while Bowles spent $8.9 million.

* Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray's race against Republican Rep. George R. Nethercutt, $15.3 million. Murray spent about $9.9 million, compared with about $5.4 million by Nethercutt.

Republicans hold a 51 to 48 edge in the Senate, with one independent.

The most expensive House race through mid-month was a Texas matchup between incumbents prompted by redistricting, $6.6 million. Democrat Martin Frost spent $3.9 million, while Republican Pete Sessions spent about $2.7 million.

In the House, Republicans have majority control with 227 seats to the Democrats' 205.

-- From News Services