USA

Vice President Cheney is in London, the first stop on a 12-nation trip to boost support for expanding the US counterterrorism war - and a Saudi proposal to resolve the near-constant Israeli-Palestinian violence. Today, Cheney marks the six-month anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in a meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who's under fire at home for his support of US policy toward Iraq. During the 10-day tour, Cheney also plans to visit Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Yemen, among others. (Related stories, pages 1, 2; opinion, page 9.)

To strengthen efforts to nab terrorism planners abroad, and to foil any future attempts, the Justice Department plans to send specially trained federal prosecutors to Europe, the Los Angeles Times reported. The prosecutors would help foreign governments press charges against the dozens of suspects in custody and track others who remain at large, the paper said. In some cases, the suspects could be recruited as informants, the Times said. US officials are searching for "middle management" terrorists who gave the Sept. 11 plane hijackers money, false documents, and other aid.

Falling scaffolding killed at least three people and injured eight others in Chicago Saturday. High winds may have caused the 25-foot section of aluminum scaffolding to break free from the John Hancock Center, the city's third-tallest building, officials said. The debris fell 43 floors onto cars stopped at a busy intersection. The city's Building Department will investigate whether the scaffolding, which was not in use at the time, was locked in position as required.

Maine's Roman Catholic diocese removed two priests who admitted sexually abusing teenage boys more than 20 years ago, officials said. Meanwhile, a Catholic bishop in Palm Beach, Fla., offered his resignation Friday. He's the highest-ranking clergyman to step down in a scandal set off by the conviction of a Massachusetts priest who was moved from parish to parish for years despite claims of child molestation.

An Atlanta jury convicted 1960's radical turned Muslim cleric H. Rap Brown of killing one police officer and wounding another during a shootout two years ago. Brown, now known as Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (above, l., speaking with his lawyer after the verdict), could be sentenced to death or life in prison. The trial had been postponed due to concerns that jurors would be prejudiced against Al-Amin in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

With the Academy Awards just two weeks away, "A Beautiful Mind" emerged as a frontrunner after Ron Howard was named best film director by the Directors Guild of America. Since 1949, all but five guild winners have gone on to claim Oscars. In TV, directors of HBO's "Six Feet Under" and Fox's "Malcolm in the Middle" won the best drama and comedy categories, respectively.

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