World

US ground forces advancing in Iraq were less than a day from Baghdad, and the Iraqi capital was absorbing still more pounding from the air despite thick smoke from burning oil-filled trenches. In northern Iraq, a city where hundreds of Muja-hideen i-Khalq, a fierce irregular force loyal to Saddam Hussein are based, also was attacked by allied warplanes. But Hussein's fate remained unclear. State TV showed footage of him meeting with his senior advisers, which, Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan told a news briefing, proved he was well. But British intelligence chiefs told Prime Minister Tony Blair's Cabinet that the Iraqi president was badly wounded.

Jordan and Italy became the latest governments to expel Iraqi diplomats, although the Amman government denied it had issued the order at the behest of the Bush administration. But Russia, Hungary, and Romania refused to grant the US request. Russia also vowed it would block any US effort to win retroactive approval by the UN for the war against Iraq.

What were to have been important discussions between North Korea and rival South Korea were postponed by the former. It blamed the South for the move, accusing it of declaring a "high-alert posture ... under the pretext of the Iraqi war." The talks on maritime cooperation and economic exchanges were to begin Wednesday.

Enough people were voting in Chechnya's referendum on constitutional change to make its outcome valid, senior officials said. If approved, the measure would lock in Chechnya's status as part of the Russian Federation and would expedite presidential and legislative elections. But although voting was being monitored by dozens of international observers, human rights organizations have cast doubt on its legitimacy, due to ongoing fighting in the volatile republic.

The toughest crackdown on antigovernment dissidents in years in Cuba appeared to be winding down, after the arrests of at least 72 people. But that total was considered certain to grow as reports of other arrests were confirmed. Although some of the best-known critics of the communist government remained free, the crackdown drew protests from international human rights and news media groups.

Scientists are "relatively sure" they've found the cause of the mystery disease that's blamed for at least 11 deaths around the world, a UN World Health Organization spokesman said. The illness also has made 386 others sick in the past three weeks. The WHO spokesman said the scientists from 11 different laboratories were working jointly to develop a test to diagnose the illness.

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