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Two prominent Democratic presidential hopefuls said they'll sit out next year's Iowa caucuses to focus on states with later primaries. "We don't have the time or money to compete there," said a spokesman for retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who recently entered the race. And the campaign manager for Joseph Lieberman said the Connecticut senator has decided to place resources "where they will prove most effective" - New Hampshire, South Caro-lina, Arizona, and Oklahoma. Party activists said the decision could damage their hopes of winning the 2004 nomination. Opinion polls show Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont, and US Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri jostling for the lead in the Jan. 19 Iowa caucuses, with Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts in third place. (Related opinion, page 9.)

In a surprise change, sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad will represent himself at his murder trial in Virginia Beach, Va. As opening statements were due to begin, Circuit Judge LeRoy Millette Jr. granted a motion for Muhammad to act as his own attorney, telling the jury that two defense lawyers would only assist in the case. Muhammad is charged in the death of Dean Meyers, one of 10 people killed during a three-week shooting spree in the Washington area last fall. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

The Supreme Court agreed to review whether criminal suspects may be forced to give names to police. A man convicted of resisting arrest in Nevada for refusing 11 times to identify himself to officers is challenging a state law as unconstitutional. Noting that the case has implications for federal counterterrorism efforts, Nevada's high court sided with police in a 4-3 decision last year.

CIA analysis found the latest purported tape of Osama bin Laden is probably authentic, a spokesman for the agency said. The terrorist leader's references to former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas mean it was probably made in the past six months, the CIA official added. The tape, broadcast on Qatar-based Arabic network Al Jazeera, called for suicide attacks inside and outside the US to oust American "crusaders" in Iraq.

In a milestone for the $85 million clergy sex-abuse settlement by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, an attorney representing 120 plaintiffs said he was submitting 113 signed agreements to mediators and church attorneys Monday. That brings the tally above the 80 percent needed for the deal to take effect, ahead of Thursday's deadline. The archdiocese became the focal point of a national scandal two years ago, amid revelations that church leaders failed for decades to remove allegedly abusive priests from active ministry.

A fire aboard a New York ferry prompted the evacuation of 12 passengers and crew, the Coast Guard said. No injuries were reported. The incident came less than a week after a ferry slammed into a pier at Staten Island, killing 10 people and injuring more than 60 others.

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