USA

President Bush is "very displeased" that two of the Sept. 11 hijackers were awarded student visas - six months after the attacks - the White House said. The president directed Attorney General Ashcroft and homeland security director Tom Ridge to look into the matter "immediately," spokesman Scott McClellan said. On Monday, a Florida flight school received paperwork from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) approving visas for Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi. They've been identified among the hijackers aboard two aircraft that crashed into New York's World Trade Center. An INS official said the decisions were made last summer, before the attacks.

The House Budget Committee was expected to pass a $2.12 trillion spending blueprint for fiscal year 2003. It allots $394 billion for defense, a 13 percent increase, and doubles funding for domestic security, as President Bush requested, but holds most other domestic programs to a 1.3 percent rise. It also envisions a temporary, $46 billion deficit next year. "Our wartime budget makes America safer, the economy stronger, and secures the future for every American family," said the panel's chairman, Rep. Jim Nussle (R) of Iowa. The Democrat-controlled Senate Budget Committee is set to vote on a very different plan of its own next week.

Passing his first big hurdle to becoming the first Hispanic governor of Texas, Tony Sanchez won the Democratic nomination in Tuesday's primary. Sanchez (above), a millionaire banker, defeated former attorney general Dan Morales, another Mexican-American. In November, Sanchez will try to unseat acting Gov. Rick Perry (R), who took office when Bush was elected president.

While not quite ready to declare the recession over, the National Bureau of Economic Research said economic activity may have stopped its decline. Earlier, the elite, six-member academic panel pegged the formal start of the recession to March 2001. The group said it was awaiting more economic data before pinpointing an end date.

Retail sales - one such economic indicator - rose 0.3 percent in February, the Commerce Department reported. The increase is the biggest since October, but it still fell below the 0.9 percent rise many analysts had anticipated.

Jurors are to begin deliberations today on a sentence for Andrea Yates after convicting her of murder Tuesday night. The Houston jury rejected the defense argument that Yates was insane when she drowned her five children in the bathtub of their home. She faces either life in prison or the death penalty. (Related story, page 3.)

A suspect was to be arraigned for a shooting in a Lynbrook, N.Y., Roman Catholic church that killed two people Tuesday. Parishioners, including an off-duty police officer, chased Peter Troy into a nearby apartment house, where he later surrendered. The shooting, at Our Lady of Peace Church took the lives of a priest and an elderly parishioner.

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