USA

British Prime Minister Blair was meeting President Bush and addressing a joint session of Congress, as both administrations faced pressure over prewar intelligence claims and continued attacks against coalition forces in Iraq. Due to an increasingly organized "guerrilla-type campaign," the next US troop deployments may last a year, new US military commander for Iraq Gen. John Abizaid said Wednesday. He also pledged to send the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, the longest-serving unit now in Iraq, home by September.

Nine people died, among them a 3-year-old girl, when an elderly driver lost control of his car and plowed into a crowded street market in Santa Monica, Calif. Another 45 people were injured in Wednesday's accident. Police chief James Butts said the driver, Russell Weller, had a valid license but that there were questions about his competence. In a TV interview, Butts said Weller twice damaged his garage while behind the wheel.

The economy officially emerged from recession in November 2001, according to a panel that decides on US business cycles. The National Bureau of Economic Research confirmed what many economists had suspected: After an eight-month downturn that began in March 2001, the economy entered a slow recovery phase.

In other economic news, construction of new housing rose in June to its highest level since January, the Commerce Department reported. Housing construction increased 3.7 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.80 million units.

Fifteen Cubans were awaiting US immigration interviews after their stolen boat was intercepted by the Coast Guard in international waters Wednesday. Cuban officials had sent planes and patrol boats to pursue the craft, owned by a state-controlled geological survey firm. It was the second such seizure since the communist regime executed three men in April for hijacking a ferry in Havana Bay.

The Environmental Protection Agency added 10 new sites to its Superfund toxic-cleanup list, but said work on 10 others would be delayed due to budget restrictions. Among the projects slated to share $49 million in cleanup funds are a smelter along I-70 in Denver and a former wood-treatment facility in Conroe, Texas.

CORRECTION: An item in this space July 15 should have said that in his State of the Union address, President Bush spoke only of "Africa" as the place where Saddam Hussein's Iraq sought to buy sizable quantities of uranium. The president cited British intelligence as the source of that information. Subsequent reports have identified the specific country as Niger.

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