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The US is making plans to equip and train forces fighting terrorists in Georgia, the former Soviet Republic, the White House said. Foreign fighters in the Pankisi Gorge, which borders Russia's Chechnya region, are suspected of ties to Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network. The exact makeup of the American team hasn't been decided yet, but presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer said US troops would not play a combat role. The Pentagon already has sent Georgia 10 military helicopters.

Welfare reform and fundraising were the objects of President Bush's trip to Charlotte, N.C. At press time, Bush was meeting with community leaders on his proposals, such as incentives for welfare recipients - many of whom are single mothers - to marry. (Story, page 2; editorial, page 8) Bush also was expected to raise more than $1 million for Elizabeth Dole's Senate campaign. The former cabinet secretary and Bush rival for the 2000 GOP presidential nomination is running for the seat held by Jesse Helms (R), who is retiring.

There are increasing signs the recession is ending, although recovery is likely to be subdued, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told a House panel. His testimony was in line with analysts' expectations and confirmed beliefs that the US central bank is unlikely to cut key interest rates further, and probably won't raise them before the end of the year. (Story, page 1.)

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In mixed signals on the economic front, orders for durable goods rose 2.6 percent last month to $179.1 billion, the Commerce Department reported, while new-home sales fell sharply. The higher-than-expected increase was the second in a row for durables - manufactured items intended to last three or more years. Sales of new homes, however, fell 14.8 percent in January to a seasonally adjusted rate of 823,000, the steepest drop in eight years.

The Pentagon shut its controversial Office of Strategic Influence. Addressing the closure, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld denied reports that the office might have spread misinformation as part of the counterterrorism war. But he said criticism made it "clear to me that it could not function effectively."

Fifteen workers at Boston's Logan Airport are under arrest and five more are being sought by federal authorities, a spokeswoman for the US attorney's office said. She declined to say why. A local radio station reported they would be charged with having false Social Security numbers. Logan was the departure point for two airliners that crashed into New York's World Trade Center on Sept. 11.

A bill that would make English the official language of Iowa was posing a tough choice for Gov. Tom Vilsack (D), who hasn't said whether he'll sign it. He is a candidate for reelection in November. The measure enjoys broad popular support but is opposed by many Hispanics and liberals who form the core of Vilsack's voter base.

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