USA

Multiple government agencies share blame for intelligence failures before and after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, according to a congressional report released Wednesday. Poor communication by the FBI, poor resource allocation by the National Security Agency, and the CIA's refusal to use unsavory characters to infiltrate terror organizations, were cited as problems by Rep. Saxby Chambliss (R) of Georgia, chairman of the homeland security subcommittee on NBC's "Today" show. While only an unclassified executive summary was released publicly, Rep. Jane Harman (D) of California said the report contains "two dozen classified suggestions" designed to improve intelligence gathering.

Housing construction declined in June after a bounce the month before, the Commerce Department reported, signaling the sector may be losing steam.

Builders broke ground last month on 1.67 million units at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, a 3.6 percent drop from the May level. Construction rose 10.8 percent in May. Mild weather early in the year helped to power housing construction, which remained solid throughout 2001.

An 8,600-acre wildfire continued to burn in the Sierra Nevada region. Nearly 1,000 firefighters successfully fought to save 250 homes threatened by the blaze. The area, along the California-Nevada border, is experiencing its worst drought in 30 years. Elsewhere in Nevada, a 10,000-acre fire raged unchecked along with border with Utah, while two dozen fires continued to burn in Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming. Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) said he expects to call up hundreds of National Guard troops to battle fires burning 100,000 acres.

Applications to become a US citizen surged after Sept. 11, but it's taking longer for the government to approve such requests, according to new data released by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The INS reported a 65-percent increase in new citizenship applications between Oct. 1, 2001 and May 31, 2002. But the number of people granted citizenship dropped 10 percent during that period compared with the previous year.

Former New York police patrolman Charles Schwarz was convicted of lying about his role in an assault on Haitian immigrant Abner Louima. However, the Brooklyn jury came back deadlocked on whether to convict Schwarz of federal civil-rights charges for participating in the 1997 assault on Louima in a police precinct bathroom. Prosecutors said they may still retry Schwarz, who remains free on bail until his Sept. 20 sentencing. Schwarz's convictions in two earlier trials were thrown out by an appeals court earlier this year.

Basketball star Allen Iverson was arraigned in Philadelphia. Police said he burst into a cousin's apartment with a gun while looking for his wife and threatened two men. Iverson, a guard for the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers, appeared in court via closed-circuit TV while he sat in a police detention block. Iverson's attorney indicated his client plans to plead not guilty. If convicted, Iverson could face a maximum of 50 years in prison.

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