USA

Nine top Wall Street investment firms agreed to pay $1.4 billion to settle allegations of biased stock research, in a deal due to be announced by federal regulators as the Monitor went to press. Securities and Exchange Commission chairman William Donaldson and New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer were among the officials presenting the final accord. The firms, among them Citigroup, Salomon Smith Barney, Credit Suisse First Boston, and J.P. Morgan Chase, neither admitted nor denied the allegations, but agreed to sever ties between market analysis and investment banking operations and to fund independent investor research.

The war in Iraq was a historic success, thanks to "an unprecedented combination of power, precision, speed, flexibility, and ... compassion," Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said in a speech to US troops in Qatar. President Bush is expected to declare the war over later this week. On a visit Monday to the heavily Arab-American city of Dearborn, Mich., Bush was urging Iraqi-Americans to help promote democracy in their native land, aides said. Meanwhile, more US military personnel were returning from the war zone.

The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of abortion clinic regulations in South Carolina. A clinic in Greenville had sought to overturn the 1996 rules that gave state inspectors the power to review clinic medical records, citing privacy concerns for women seeking abortions.

A two-man Russian-American team docked at the International Space Station Monday to warm greetings from its three-member crew. The latter are scheduled to return to Earth May 3 aboard the new arrivals' Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The US space shuttle fleet was grounded after the Columbia disaster Feb. 1.

The murder rate in California's largest cities and counties jumped 11 percent in 2002, and major crimes rose 3.8 percent, according to a preliminary report released Sunday by the state attorney general's office. There were 1,842 killings in areas with 100,000 or more residents last year, including 653 deaths in Los Angeles.

The apparent poisoning of 250 cattle at a feedlot near Richland, Neb., was under investigation by state police, agriculture officials, and the University of Nebraska. The herd's owner said it was suspected the cattle may have been fed organic phosphate, an insecticide, because 30 survivors responded to a treatment for nerve gas.

Cleanup efforts were under way after a barge spilled almost 15,000 gallons of fuel oil into Buzzards Bay, Mass. The area, near Cape Cod, is one of the state's prime shellfishing locations.

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