USA

The Bush administration welcomed a temporary cease-fire by three Palestinian militant groups as "a step in the right direction." But White House spokeswoman Ashley Snee stressed that the groups' "terrorist infrastructure" must be dismantled. Appearing on CBS-TV's "The Early Show," Secretary of State Powell said he hoped Palestinians "will invest their future" in new Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and "look away" from Hamas militants. Powell also told NBC that while US officials can be facilitators and monitors in the peace process, "I don't see a role for [US] armed forces." (Related editorial, page 8.)

The Vatican is poised to name a replacement for the Roman Catholic archbishop of Boston, who resigned in December after becoming a focus of controversy in the nationwide clergy sex-abuse scandal. Bishop Sean O'Malley of West Palm Beach, Fla., who addressed abuse cases at that diocese and at another in Fall River, Mass., will be appointed to succeed Cardinal Bernard Law, according to the National Catholic Reporter, an independent publication that covers church issues. While confirming that an announcement is "imminent," an unnamed Vatican official said O'Malley is only one of several candidates.

A hurricane watch was in effect for southern Louisiana as tropical storm Bill closed in on the state's Gulf of Mexico coast, with flooding expected in New Orleans and other areas. Storm warnings were in effect from Texas to Mississippi. Above, storm-boosted waves soak a girl perched on a seawall in Mandeville, La.

The FBI has joined the search for a missing basketball player from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Patrick Dennehy hasn't been heard from in two weeks, and police reportedly suspect he may have been murdered. Authorities are looking into claims that Dennehy argued with or was threatened by teammates, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported. He also recently reported that his car had been broken into.

A man armed with a samurai-style sword killed two people and wounded three others at a supermarket in Irvine, Calif., Sunday, before being fatally shot by police. The suspect was identified as Joseph Parker, who recently quit his job bagging groceries. Relatives said he had a history of mental illness.

Hollywood icon Katharine Hepburn, who died Sunday in Old Saybrook, Conn., was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and won a record four during her 60-year career. She was noted for her independent spirit and starred alongside such leading men as Humphrey Bogart and Spencer Tracy. (Story, page 3; editorial, page 8.)

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