USA

Following allegations of widespread document destruction at Enron Corp.'s Houston headquarters, an attorney representing investors in a class-action lawsuit against 29 current and former executives asked a federal court to issue an order preventing further shredding. According to court papers filed in Houston, former Enron executive Maureen Castaneda claimed the shredding began after Thanksgiving and continued until earlier this month. Above, Castaneda appears on ABC News Monday, displaying a box of shredded material she said she took from the building.

In one of the strongest signals yet that the economy is nearing a rebound, the New York-based Conference Board said its index of leading indicators rose by a strong 1.2 percent in December. "Three successive monthly increases, each larger than the one before, bring the level of the leading series above the pre-recession peak," the board's economist, Ken Goldstein, said. Three upward movements in the index generally indicate that the economy will expand in the next three to six months.

The Supreme Court agreed to consider whether census-takers may estimate the size of a given household based on those of its neighbors, an inexact technique critics say flouts the Constitution's requirement for an "actual enumeration." The court said it would hear an appeal from Utah, which claims that methods used in the 2000 Census cost the state a congressional seat. A panel of three federal judges voted 2-to-1 in November to dismiss the Utah lawsuit challenging the method, which is used when census workers repeatedly fail to find anyone home.

Returning to work today, the Senate is to try to untangle a deadlock over the $45 billion bill that would expand farm subsidies sharply but possibly violate world trade rules. Work collapsed a month ago when senators balked at accepting the Democrat-drafted bill but defeated all the major alternatives, including one backed by the White House. Farm groups want a new law enacted in time to cover this year's crops. These bills, which are rewritten every few years, set federal policy on crop subsidies, export programs, food stamps, and agricultural research.

After a three-month, $14 million cleanup of anthrax traces, the Hart Senate office building in Washington was set to be reopened Tuesday by majority leader Tom Daschle. His office received the first of several letters to members of Congress containing a highly potent form of the bacterium Oct. 15. Half of the Senate's members have been working out of makeshift offices ever since.

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