USA

With security their top priority, police and organizers of the New Year's Eve celebration in New York were braced for an expected half-million Times Square revelers ushering in 2002. Several changes were made to the annual celebration to honor victims of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, including a citywide bell-ringing ceremony. The 504 triangular panels that cover the 1,070-pound Waterford crystal ball that drops to mark the new year were engraved with the names of each police precinct, port authority unit, firehouse, airline, and nation that suffered losses on Sept. 11.

Fumigation of the anthrax-contaminated Hart Senate building was concluded early Monday in Washington, but it will be several days before authorities know if the operation was successful. The building is the Capitol Hill base for half of the country's 100 senators. It has been shut since a letter containing the potentially deadly spores was opened on Oct. 15 in the offices of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. An environmental protection agency cleanup team began pumping poisonous chlorine-dioxide gas through the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system last Friday. An earlier fumigation killed all but trace amounts of the spores.

In a related development, postal workers at a Manhattan processing and distribution center were urged by union officials not to go to work, after anthrax traces were found on a sorting machine that had been previously infected and cleaned. The workers did, however, report for duty.

In an apparent hate crime attack, vandals caused significant damage to the Islamic Center of Columbus, Ohio, flooding the building, pulling fixtures from the ceiling, and shredding copies of the Koran, Islam's holy book. After breaking in, the perpetrators ripped water pipes from the sink and walls of a third-floor bathroom, then drilled holes in the floor to let the water flow to lower levels. Police have no suspects and no arrests have been made.

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