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President Bush has asked Israel to lift a travel ban on Yasser Arafat so he can attend this week's Arab summit, and hopes the gathering will approve a Saudi proposal for Middle East peace, the White House said. Secretary of State Powell conveyed the president's request to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, spokesman Ari Fleischer said. Fleischer added that Bush believes "it is time for Arab nations ... to seize the moment, to create a better environment for peace to take root." The summit begins tomorrow in Lebanon. (Story, page 1.)

The Justice Department and FBI were to begin quizzing families of Sept. 11 victims Monday, lining up testimony for the trial of accused terrorism conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui. Families in New York, Boston, and Arlington, Va. were first on the list. Those selected would testify during the penalty phase, if Moussaoui is convicted. Attorney General Ashcroft has said he'll decide by the end of the week whether to seek the death penalty. Jury selection begins Sept. 30.

Sales of previously owned homes dipped 2.8 percent in February, according to the National Association of Realtors, but remained stronger than many analysts had predicted. The real estate trade group reported existing-home sales fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.88 million last month, from 6.05 million in January.

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A Massachusetts man expanded his claims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests, as similar allegations continue to surface across the country. Garry Garland previously accused the Rev. Frederick Ryan of molesting him in a Brighton, Mass., chancery in 1979, when Garland was a teenager. But the Boston Herald reported that, on the same night, the late Cardinal Humberto Medeiros also allegedly hugged Garland and touched him "inappropriately." Garland named Medeiros in a lawsuit against the church, but hadn't accused him of abuse.

The first in a possible slew of lawsuits seeking reparations for descendants of slaves is expected to be filed today in a New York federal court, USA Today reported. The suit, brought by a legal researcher, accuses insurer Aetna Inc., the rail freight company CSX, and FleetBoston Financial Corp. of profiting "unjustly" from slavery, which was abolished in 1865. It seeks unspecified damages, restitution for unpaid labor, and a share of corporate profits, the paper said.

In the Academy Awards's strongest recognition to date of African-American performers, Halle Berry and Denzel Washington became the first black actors to win lead-role honors since Sidney Poitier in 1963. (A complete list of winners appears below.) Poitier received a lifetime achievement award, and black comedian Whoopi Goldberg hosted the Sunday night ceremony. At four hours, 23 minutes, it was the longest Oscars show on record.

Maryland, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Indiana will be the "Final Four" in the NCAA's annual men's basketball championship tournament. Saturday's semifinals in Atlanta match top-seeds Maryland and Kansas, and Indiana faces Oklahoma. Maryland and Oklahoma have never won the NCAA men's title.

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