USA

President Bush is "pleased" with the progress of the military campaign in Iraq, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said, while cautioning that "there are many dangerous areas" in Baghdad and other cities. And in a speech to newspaper editors, Vice President Cheney warned that while the regime's central authority is collapsing, "I cannot predict with certainty how quickly this war will be over." The comments came amid TV images of crowds in the capital celebrating the apparent end of Saddam Hussein's rule.

A judge in Oakland, Calif., ordered Visa and MasterCard to refund $800 million to cardholders, ruling that they failed to clearly disclose a 1 percent currency-conversion fee on purchases made outside the US. Both companies vowed to appeal the decision, which an attorney for MasterCard said "defies logic." It requires Visa, of Foster City, Calif., to give rebates to customers throughout the country. MasterCard, based in New York, would only have to reimburse those in California.

In a deal with prosecutors, the fourth of six Yemeni-Americans arrested in Lackawanna, N.Y., for training at an Al Qaeda camp pleaded guilty Tuesday to supporting a foreign terrorist organization. As part of the agreement, Sahim Alwan admitted meeting twice with Osama bin Laden, although Alwan's attorneys said their client left the Afghan camp early, put off by "crazy rhetoric."

A proposal to ban pyrotechnics in small bars and nightclubs was approved unanimously by a state legislative committee in Rhode Island. The bill comes in response to the Feb. 20 fire at The Station nightclub in West Warwick, R.I., that killed 99 people. The ban would apply to venues with a crowd capacity of up to 1,000 and would require older establishments to install sprinklers.

House lawmakers in Georgia OK'd a referendum on a redesigned state flag Tuesday, sending the measure on to the state Senate. The banner was altered two years ago to shrink the size of the Confederate battle emblem, which many African -Americans consider offensive. Black lawmakers oppose the bill because if voters reject the latest design, another referendum would be held on reinstating the pre-2001 version.

The University of Connecticut successfully defended its title in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament, defeating the University of Tennessee 73-68 Tuesday night. Coach Geno Auriemma attributed the victory to the fact that "We got Diana and they don't," a reference to forward/guard Diana Taurasi, who scored 28 points. It was UConn's third championship in four years in the women's tourney.

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