USA

Ending a three-year battle, President Bush signed the forest-management bill into law in a ceremony at the Agriculture Department. The measure authorizes $760 million for timber thinning on 20 million acres of federal land, which the administration contends will curb wildfires such as those that recently killed 22 people and destroyed 3,600 homes in southern California. But environmental pressure groups claimed valuable old-growth trees also would be cut. "The timber industry fought real hard for this bill ... and it's not because they want to remove brush and chaparral," said Sean Cosgrove of the Sierra Club.

After the Pentagon suspended a $17 billion Boeing contract to supply 100 air-refueling tankers to the Air Force, some House lawmakers were vowing to fight for it. "The need is real, and it affects my district," said Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R) of Kansas. The deal could create thousands of jobs for laid-off Boeing workers in his state and in Washington. But Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz announced "a pause" for an internal review Tuesday, amid a scandal over the aerospace giant's effort to win the contract that led to the resignation of chairman Phil Condit and the firing of two other executives.

Prosecutors should be allowed to seek the death penalty for alleged 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, despite the government's refusal to let him question three Al Qaeda captives, Justice Department lawyers argued before a federal appeals court in Richmond, Va. Moussaoui's defense team contends the testimony is vital for a fair trial. The government says that could compromise national security.

At least 17 prisoners were injured, five of them seriously, during a riot by more than 100 inmates at a private prison in Baker, Calif., Tuesday night. No guards were hurt, officials said. The minimum-security facility is run by Houston-based Cornell Companies and is located about 160 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

A suspect in the disappearance of North Dakota college student Dru Sjodin was due to appear for an extradition hearing in Crookston, Minn., as the Monitor went to press. Police in nearby Grand Forks, N.D., said they believe convicted rapist Alfonso Rod-riguez also was at the mall where Sjodin disappeared Nov. 22, but they declined to detail further evidence against him.

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