USA

President Bush called for aggressive efforts to develop a missile defense shield, White House aides said in a statement as the Monitor went to press. Bush was marking the formal US withdrawal from the landmark 1972 Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia. He has argued that the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, coupled with the threat of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of "rogue" states, made it necessary to pursue his proposed missile defense system.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced it is relaxing air-pollution rules that require costly upgrades to limit emissions when aging coal-fired power plants are expanded or rebuilt. The utility industry lobbied the administration heavily for the changes, which were widely condemned by environmental groups as a "major weakening of standards."

The chief executive of troubled biotech firm ImClone Systems, Harlan Waksal, was to face sharp questioning by a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee. The panel is looking into whether ImClone misled investors about a cancer treatment, Erbitux, that was rejected by the Food and Drug Administration. Waksal's brother, Samuel, was arrested Wednesday on insider-trading charges for allegedly tipping off family members ahead of the FDA decision, prompting them to sell $10 million in ImClone stock before its value fell.

High winds threatened to widen a 100,000-acre wildfire southwest of Denver that has driven more than 5,000 people from their homes, forestry officials said. Rain was forecast for today, which could help control the blaze. Within days, the number of firefighters (one of whom, above, sprays unburned shrubs near Decker, Colo.) assigned to the area is expected to rise to 2,200. (Story, page 1.)

Jurors in the Arthur Andersen trial in Houston resumed deliberations for an eighth day. The judge ordered them to try again, after the 12-member panel said it was "unable to reach a unanimous decision" on obstruction-of-justice charges against the auditor, for destroying Enron-related documents.

Fashion designer Bill Blass, who died Wednesday in Washington, Conn., was known for blending chic with casual clothes, which came to define American style. Among his clients were former first ladies Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush, and newswoman Barbara Walters.

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