USA

As Wisconsin voters headed to the polls for that state's presidential primary, US Sen. John Kerry (D) of Massachusetts picked up the endorsement of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. It joined 18 other member unions of the Alliance for Economic Justice in pledging support of the Democratic frontrunner. Teamsters general president James Hoffa called Kerry "a fighter for working families." Meanwhile, President Bush traveled to Fort Polk, La., to meet with National Guard members and thank them for their service.

In advance of a national study, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles released local figures of sex abuse of minors by members of the clergy since 1930. The nation's largest diocese reported it has received 656 allegations of molestation by 244 priests, deacons, seminarians, and others. The findings are among those in an unprecedented, comprehensive accounting, commissioned by America's bishops. The report, scheduled for release Feb. 27, is intended to help clear the air following the church's two-year clergy-misconduct crisis. Nationwide, an estimated 4 percent of priests were involved in alleged sexual abuse of minors since 1950, according to CNN, which reviewed a draft of the national study.

By mid-May, $2.3 billion earmarked for new voting equipment and other elections improvements should begin flowing to the states, according to a four-member commission established by Congress. Only $650 million has been distributed so far, but the commission said the pace of funding should quicken after state plans for using the money are published in the Federal Register.

The collapse of a 1,000-ton crane at a bridge construction site near Toledo, Ohio, killed three workers and injured five others. Its tip came to rest on the edge of I-280, where the massive structure operated between the northbound and southbound lanes. The cause of is under investigation.

About 3,800 passenger jets will need to be equipped with a system for reducing the chance of fuel-tank explosions like the one that downed a TWA Boeing 747 in 1996, a Federal Aviation Administration source said. The formal announcement, expected late Tuesday, will require domestic airlines to build new planes with the requisite safety equipment or to retrofit existing jets with it.

The Mars rover Spirit crept 88 feet closer to the "Bonneville" crater Monday but needs to travel about 800 feet more to reach its destination, NASA reported. Its progress was intentionally held up to allow it to inspect rock and soil along the way.

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