USA

As his deadline neared on war with Iraq, President Bush huddled with senior foreign policy advisers, among them Vice President Cheney and the secretaries of defense and state. Meanwhile, US and British forces in Kuwait reportedly entered the demilitarized zone at the border with Iraq. "Americans should be prepared for what we hope will be as precise and short a conflict as possible, but there are many unknowns," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said. Tighter security measures to deter possible reprisals were being implemented around the country.

Federal Reserve policymakers, as expected, left key interest rates unchanged at a meeting Tuesday. They declined, however, to provide the usual risk-assessment for the economy, citing uncertainties about Iraq, and promised "heightened surveillance." Analysts said that suggested a possible cut in already low rates if the economy worsens. The Fed's next meeting is scheduled for May 6.

Brian David Mitchell was making his initial court appearance in Salt Lake City Wednesday after being charged with aggravated kidnapping, sexual assault, and burglary for the abduction of Elizabeth Smart. In their first release of details since the teenager was found last week, prosecutors alleged Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee, threatened to harm the girl's family if she misbehaved and at times kept her tethered to a tree with little food or water. Barzee has yet to appear in court. They face possible life sentences if convicted.

A late-winter storm that was expected to dump as much as two feet of snow in Denver closed schools, businesses, and roads, and stranded thousands of people at airports in Colorado, Wyoming, and elsewhere in the region. On the other hand, a Denver official said, the heavy snow was a positive development for the state's water supply after a record dry spell.

For the first time in Academy Awards history, stars won't parade along the red carpet on arrival at Hollywood's biggest honors Sunday night. Organizers said the stars were uncomfortable with the traditional grand entrance, with the US at the brink of war. The rest of the ceremony also will be more sedate than usual and its postponement remained a possibility, the organizers said.

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