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Evidence mounted that the man who attempted to detonate an explosive device on a transatlantic American Airlines jetliner did not act alone. Describing suspect Richard Reid, Abdul Haq Baker of the Brixton, England, mosque where he worshiped, told NBC, "We are confident here he was not acting alone." Baker said Reid likely spent time with fellow-worshiper Zacharias Moussaoui, the first person to be charged in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the US. Meanwhile, the Boston Globe reported, citing an unnamed official, that the FBI believes the shoe bombs found on Reid were so sophisticated that he probably had an accomplice. (Story, page 2.)

Congressional investigators were urging federal health officials to improve their oversight of biomedical research to assure that potential conflicts of interest don't taint findings or harm human subjects. Under current rules, researchers at US universities don't have to disclose their financial interests to independent review boards, even though the boards must evaluate projects for risks to human subjects, a General Accounting Office study found. Sen. Bill Frist (R) of Tenn., requested the study because of concerns that researchers or institutions were becoming too focused on financial rewards.

Before their Christmas recess, lawmakers approved the lease of four new Boeing 737 jets to transport congressional and administration officials, a move that will cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars more than if the government bought the planes, the Washington Post reported. The move was part of a greater push by lawmakers this fall to aid Boeing, whose commercial orders have fallen precipitously since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Post said.

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Government backing and favorable rail shipping rates give the Canadian Wheat Board considerable market power, according to a new US Trade Commission report probing a complaint by North Dakota farmers. The state's wheat commission accused Canada of unfair trading practices. US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick is expected to consider the report's conclusions next month in deciding whether to impose tariffs on Canadian durum and hard red spring wheat.

Chicago police were engaged in a "massive canvas" for a woman suspected of kidnapping a 16-month-old child from a Greyhound bus station on Christmas. The toddler's mother, Marcella Anderson, publicly pleaded for her daughter's safe return. She told reporters that a woman offered the family a ride to Milwaukee and held the child while the bus tickets were being cashed in. Anderson was waiting in line as the other woman walked away with the child, refusing to stop when called.

President Bush was heading for his Crawford, Texas ranch after spending a bucolic Christmas at the Camp David, Md., presidential retreat. Before the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush had spent almost two months of his presidency at the ranch with a month-long "working vacation" over the summer. While at the ranch, he will receive daily military, intelligence, and FBI briefings, keeping up to date on the war on terrorism.

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