USA

The White House warned that it is prepared to authorize the use of "overwhelming force" - including nuclear weapons - in response to chemical or biological attacks by an enemy. The threat was contained in a six-page "National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction," due to be delivered to Congress Wednesday. Senior administration officials said they hoped their position would deter countries like Iraq from using such weapons. (Related story, page 2; related opinions, page 9.)

Concluding its investigation into the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, a joint congressional committee recommended that a "chief executive" be appointed over the US's various intelligence and security agencies to ensure they overcome a reluctance to share information. Sen. Bob Graham (D) of Florida, cochairman of the panel, said the lack of intelligence sharing meant "opportunities to understand this plot in time to break it up ... were lost."

Five weeks after the midterm elections, the outcome of the next-to-last outstanding race was confirmed, with Republican Bob Beauprez declared the winner of Colorado's new House seat. The result was held up by a recount mandated under state law because of the slim 121-vote margin he held over Democrat Mike Feeley. The decision means the new breakdown of the House is 229 Republicans and 203 Democrats, with one independent and a seat in Hawaii still to be determined.

An apology by soon-to-be Senate majority leader Trent Lott for an inopportune remark was not satisfactory, civil rights leaders and top Democrats said. Lott said his "poor choice of words" - that the US would be better off had retiring colleague Strom Thurmond won a 1948 presidential bid - wrongly gave the impression he "embraced the discarded policies of the past." Thurmond was a firm segregationist at that time, but Lott said his comment, at a birthday party, was meant to honor Thurmond's long career.

The national debate over a possible war with Iraq appears to be intensifying, with more than 120 peace vigils, acts of civil disobedience, and marches reported in 37 states Tuesday. The group United for Peace, which tracks such protests, said 150 antiwar protesters were arrested in International Human Rights Day demonstrations. Below, police wrestle with a protester outside an Army National Guard recruiting station in Washington.

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