USA

Seeking to resolve an impasse in the Security Council on lifting Iraq sanctions, Secretary of State Powell was meeting with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The US is expected to submit a resolution soon, with France and Russia at odds with the Bush administration on how quickly to end trade embargoes and the UN's oil-for-food program, which was intended to feed 90 percent of Iraq's population. Meanwhile, The Washington Times quoted Powell as saying he'd look into a report that France provided some Iraqi officials with passports that allowed them to flee to Europe. Some Bush administration officials have called the report disturbing. The French Embassy denies it as baseless.

The Senate Finance Committee is set to vote Thursday on a scaled-down version of President Bush's proposed tax cut, but it wasn't clear whether the $350 billion package would pass. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) of Maine opposes a provision that would eliminate taxes on stock dividends - as Bush has requested - over three years, before restoring them in 2006. House Ways and Means Committee chairman Bill Thomas (R) of California, whose panel approved a $550 million tax cut Tuesday, chided Senate GOP members. "Talk doesn't create jobs; only action does," he said.

Bush has yet to declare his reelection bid, but Vice President Cheney again will be his running mate in 2004, the latter confirmed in an interview with The Dallas Morning News. Cheney's health problems had prompted speculation he might not seek a second term. But he told the newspaper his health is "good enough," and if he ever felt unable to serve, "I'd be the first to say so and step down."

Most of the confession of Washington-area sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo may be used at his trial, a judge in Fairfax County, Va., ruled Tuesday. The decision is a major boost for prosecutors, who are seeking the death penalty in the case. Malvo and codefendant John Allen Muhammad are accused of 20 shootings, 13 of them fatal, in six states.

Tornadoes killed two people in Illinois Tuesday, while Georgia was hit by heavy winds and flooding. The intense storm system is blamed for more than 40 deaths since Sunday. Below, Jessica Dickson stands near a dirt hole where she and a friend took refuge from a twister that destroyed several mobile homes in Bowman, Ga.

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