USA

The Justice Department told Microsoft it will no longer seek the break up of the Seattle-based software giant and wants to end the historic antitrust case brought by the Clinton administration as soon as possible. It also said it will not contest Microsoft's controversial bundling of software. Justice officials said the decision was designed to obtain "prompt, effective ... relief for consumers." But the department will seek penalties first suggested by a federal judge earlier in the case that could affect Microsoft's soon-to-be-released Windows XP operating system.

Mexican President Vicente Fox called on the US to strike a wide-ranging agreement on immigration by the year's end. His comments came in an address to Congress, urging "greater trust between neighbors." Fox, on a state visit, wants blanket amnesty for an estimated 3 million Mexicans who entered the US illegally - a move that President Bush opposes. Bush is considering an expansion of a temporary worker program that would allow affected Mexicans to gain legal residency. Above, Bush and First Lady Laura Bush (r.) escort Fox and his wife, Martha Sahagun (l.), to a state dinner in the White House. (Stories, pages 2, 3.)

The state will not drop a death-penalty case against convicted Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols, despite his attorneys' last-minute offer to waive all appeals if the state backed off, a district attorney announced. Nichols is serving a federal life sentence for conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter. City district attorney Wes Lane said he'll pursue 160 first-degree murder charges against Nichols in the 1995 federal-building bombing that killed 168 people and injured 500 others.

Executions nationwide have fallen by 27 percent so far this year, the second consecutive annual decline, The Washington Post reported. The most striking change came in Texas, which put to death 40 inmates in 2000 but has executed only 12 this year, with another six scheduled. In all, 48 people have been executed this year in the 38 states allowing capital punishment.

Rising global temperatures may explain why the Northern Hemisphere is becoming greener, researchers said. A study of satellite data by Boston University and NASA scientists found denser vegetation over the last 20 years in a broad swath between central Europe and Siberia, as well as portions of the upper midwestern US. The author of a report on the study said human production of greenhouse gases may contribute to the increased density and to shifts in the appearance and fall of leaves.

Planned Parenthood of South Carolina filed a lawsuit in federal court to block the state from issuing antiabortion "Choose Life" license plates, which the group calls unconstitutional. An attorney for the group said the plates violate free speech because the state provides a forum for one political view but not opposing views.

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