Bush chokes on pretzel, faints briefly

WASHINGTON

President Bush fainted briefly in the White House residence yesterday after choking on a pretzel while watching a National Football League playoff game on television, White House physician Dr. Richard Tubb said. The doctor, an Air Force colonel, said Bush quickly recovered and was doing well.

“He fainted due to a temporary decrease in heart rate brought on by swallowing a pretzel,” Tubb said. “I do not find any reason that this would happen again.”

Bush, 55, suffered an abrasion on his left cheek the size of a half dollar and a bruise on his lower lip, apparently from falling onto the floor from a couch. Bush said he had been feeling under the weather Saturday and yesterday.

“He had not been feeling well the last couple of days,” said Tubb, although Bush had exercised rigorously Saturday and had a lighter workout yesterday. Tubb said Bush has felt “a little off his game,” as if he was coming down with a head cold.

Bush plans to travel to the Midwest on Monday as planned, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

Tubb said the episode does not appear to be related to stress or extra work brought on by Bush”s duties as commander in chief and the war in Afghanistan. This is the first health scare for Bush as president.

Video shows assassination rehearsals

SYDNEY, Australia

Al-Qaida militants practiced carrying out a mass assassination of world leaders and an attack on a motorcade, according to a video obtained in Afghanistan and broadcast on Australian television.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp. late yesterday aired parts of video tapes recorded at an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan that showed what the network said were Arab, Pakistani and African fighters rehearsing hostage-takings and assassinations.

The publicly owned network said today it would now send the tapes to the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency for analysis.

The tapes showed drills, using live ammunition, that appeared to be aimed at potential Western targets, ABC said.

The exercises included detailed plans to attack a motorcade on what appeared to be a road system in Washington, D.C., and a mass assassination of national leaders at a golf tournament.

In another exercise, those acting as hostages and the attackers practice speaking in English.

Control of Senate at stake in election

WASHINGTON

The contest to win control of the Senate is extraordinarily evenly matched at the start of this election year and hinges on races in about a dozen states.

Democrats have only a one-vote lead in the Senate, meaning the overall outcome could be decided by a single campaign mistake or external factors like the economy.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle launched the political season earlier this month with a speech strongly criticizing President Bush”s stewardship of the economy. The president fired back that his economic proposals, which emphasize more tax cuts, are the best approach and he promised to block any efforts to raise taxes.

The power struggle between Bush and Daschle, a potential Democratic presidential candidate in 2004, is exemplified by the competitive race in Daschle”s home state.

Rebels declare end to Colombian talks

VICENTE DEL CAGUAN

Stoking fears that Colombia”s war will enter its bloodiest phase, leftist rebels declared the peace process over yesterday and prepared to abandon the safe haven that has served as headquarters for three years of negotiations.

Moments before the announcement by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a military warplane circled over the site of the failed peace talks in the hamlet of Los Pozos. Troops massed in military bases across this South American country, and even reservists were called to duty, prepared to retake the guerrilla sanctuary, an area roughly twice the size of New Jersey.

The government ceded the zone to the rebels, known by their Spanish acronym FARC, as a condition to start the peace talks and the rebels had pledged to give it back if the talks ended.

Prince Harry to enter drug rehab

LONDON

Seventeen-year-old Prince Harry was taken to a rehab center after he admitted he had smoked marijuana and illegally drank alcoholic beverages, the first public embarrassment involving one of Princess Diana”s children since her death.

The story, broken by yesterday”s News of the World tabloid under the headline “Harry”s Drug Shame,” and all but confirmed by the royal family, dominated British print and broadcast news reports all day. It also led to widespread speculation about what it will mean for the royal family and for Prince Harry, who could conceivably be expelled from Eton, the prestigious private school.

But given how many parents have faced similar problems with their teen-agers, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Prince Charles won praise for the way he had dealt with Harry.

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