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While stopping short of a pledge to join the US against Iraq, NATO leaders warned Saddam Hussein of "serious consequences" if his regime fails to comply "fully and immediately" with UN resolutions to give up its weapons programs. The statement, at the opening of a two-day summit in the Czech Republic, was designed to make NATO logistical and diplomatic assets available, a senior Bush administration official said, adding that the US does not envision a NATO military role in any conflict. Instead, President Bush has been canvassing individual nations for support. After the summit wraps up Friday, he'll travel to St. Petersburg, Russia, for talks with President Vladimir Putin.

US immigration officials have been unable to find almost half of the more than 4,000 resident aliens they wanted to contact following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to a report by the General Accounting office, the investigative wing of Congress. The report said the Immigration and Naturalization Service hasn't done enough to publicize or enforce rules that require US visitors to notify the agency if they change addresses.

New claims for unemployment benefits fell last week to a fourmonth-low, the Labor Department reported. Jobless claims slid by a seasonally adjusted 25,000 to 376,000. The drop surprised many analysts, who had expected a rise from the previous week to continue.

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In another encouraging sign of recovery, the Index of Leading Economic Indicators held steady in October at 111.4, after four months of declines, the Conference Board reported. The New York-based industry group's index is closely watched as a gauge of economic activity.

At least three arrests were reported because of rowdy celebrations by students at West Virginia University after an upset football victory over Virginia Tech. Mountaineers fans set multiple fires on and off the campus in Morgantown, W. Va. University president David Hardesty denounced the behavior, saying, "Celebrating a great victory is one thing, but doing it irresponsibly is another."

Julia Glass won the National Book Award for fiction for her "Three Junes" at a ceremony in New York. "Master of the Senate," the third volume in Robert Caro's biography of President Lyndon Johnson, took the nonfiction prize. Ruth Stone won the poetry award for "In the Next Galaxy." In the young people's literature category, Nancy Farmer won for "The House of the Scorpion."

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