USA

Ballistic tests confirmed that the fatal shooting of a woman in Falls Church, Va., was the latest in a series of sniper attacks, authorities said. Nine people have been killed and two others wounded in the past two weeks in the Washington area. Monday night's attack took place in the parking lot of a busy shopping center about 10 miles outside Washington, near a point where several major highways converge. Police were on the lookout for a light or cream-colored van described by witnesses.

Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be on the agenda when President Bush meets Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Bush is expected to ask Sharon not to respond if his nation comes under Iraqi missile fire during possible US military action. Bush's father won a similar pledge during the Gulf War. He is also expected to press the Israeli leader to lift restrictions on Palestinian-ruled areas imposed to deter further suicide attacks.

ImClone founder and former chief executive Samuel Waksal pleaded guilty to insider trading, bank fraud, perjury, and other charges at a federal court in New York. The charges stem from the sale – and attempted sale – of shares in the biotech firm by Waksal, members of his family, and friends shortly before the Food and Drug Administration rejected a prospective ImClone drug.

Business inventories fell 0.1 percent in August in the first decline in four months, the Commerce Department reported. Analysts, who had anticipated a slight rise, said it was not clear whether the drop was due to strong demand or a reluctance to rebuild stocks of goods. Business sales, meanwhile, grew by 0.2 percent in August, down from a 1.3 percent increase the previous month.

Immigration authorities were investigating the discovery of 11 sets of human remains in Denison, Iowa, as a possible smuggling operation gone awry. The bodies were found Monday in a locked railroad car by workers preparing it for loading at a grain elevator. Records showed the railroad car departed from Matamoros, Mexico, formerly a center for illegal immigrants seeking to enter the US, in June and that it was parked in Oklahoma until this week.

The Supreme Court declined an appeal by Democratic fund-raiser Maria Hsia, convicted of hiding more than $100,000 in illegal contributions to the 1996 Clinton-Gore reelection campaign. Defense lawyers had argued Hsia didn't understand complex campaign-finance rules. She arranged the controversial appearance by former Vice President Gore at an event held at a Buddhist Temple near Los Angeles.

The San Francisco Giants clinched a spot in this year's World Series with a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League playoff finale Monday. They will face the Anaheim Angels in the best-of-seven series beginning Saturday in Anaheim. The Angels have never before played in a World Series. The Giants were last in the series in 1989 but haven't won one since 1954.

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