USA

The Bush administration has "a solid basis" for claims that Saddam Hussein harbors weapons of mass destruction, and, to counter Iraq's denials, will provide evidence to UN weapons inspectors, spokesman Ari Fleischer said. He declined to share such evidence with the news media, however. In daily statements this week, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Powell, and other senior officials have pressed the case that Iraq can't be trusted to disarm voluntarily as required under a UN resolution.

A bankruptcy filing by Boston's Roman Catholic Archdiocese edged a step closer to reality, as Cardinal Bernard Law got the OK from his Finance Council. Law hasn't officially decided to take the unprecedented action, which would need Vatican approval as well. The church is facing massive legal costs from the clergy sex-abuse scandal as it negotiates with attorneys for some 400 alleged victims.

Prosecutors in New York were to seek dismissal of convictions of five men in the Central Park jogger rape case in a filing before a state Supreme Court judge as the Monitor went to press. The men, in their teens when the 1989 incident occurred, had confessed on videotape. But earlier this year another convicted rapist, Matias Reyes, said he alone was responsible and DNA evidence appeared to confirm his claim.

A federal indictment charged former El Paso Corp. trader and vice president Todd Geiger with wire fraud and reporting false trade information. The US Attorney in Houston, part of the corporate fraud task force set up by the Justice Department in response to the Enron collapse last year, called the indictment the first fruit of investigations into a number of energy companies.

Ceremonies and parties on Capitol Hill honored US Sen. Strom Thurmond (R) of South Carolina as he became the first member of Congress to reach the century mark. He'll be feted at the White House Friday. Thurmond is due to retire in January after 48 years in office.

A winter storm left more than 1 million people without power and closed hundreds of schools across the South before blanketing the East Coast for the second time this week. At least six traffic deaths were blamed on storm-slickened roads in Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, and North Carolina. Philadelphia and Washington declared snow emergencies.

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