USA

Terry Nichols, already serving a life sentence in prison for his role in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, will try to avoid the death penalty on 161 first-degree murder charges beginning Monday. The prosecution in his trial in McAlester, 130 miles from Oklahoma City, reportedly will argue that Nichols, imprisoned for the involuntary manslaughter of eight federal agents connected to the case, was a co-conspirator with Timothy McVeigh. McVeigh was executed three years ago for the bombing. Nichols's lawyers will attempt to paint their client as a "fall guy" who was at home in Kansas when the 4,000-pound bomb he allegedly helped to build was detonated.

John Kerry and John Edwards campaigned vigorously over the weekend to try to win votes in Tuesday's 10-state "Super Tuesday" Democratic primary and caucus elections. Their outcome could either clinch the party's nomination for Kerry or put Edwards squarely back in the hunt.

A 570-foot Norwegian-owned tanker carrying enthanol exploded and sank 50 miles off the Virginia coast Saturday. Three of 24 Greek and Filipino crew members died in the accident. Six others were found alive, and the rest were reported missing in frigid waters. The cause of the explosion, which occurred en route from New York to Houstion, was unclear. But there were reports of a fire on deck. The spilled cargo should have little impact on the marine environment, according to the ship's owner.

US forces are stepping up efforts to capture or kill Osama bin Laden in a plan approved by President Bush, The New York Times Website reported Saturday. Troops are hoping to take advantage of improving weather, new tactics, and better intelligence in searching along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border for the accused mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Unionized Southern California grocery workers off the job for more than four months began studying a new contract offer and voting on whether to ratify or reject it. About 59,000 employees have been on strike or locked out in a dispute that centers on healthcare costs. If passed, the new contract would require employees of the Safeway, Albertsons, and Kroger chains to begin paying their own healthcare insurance premiums.

With closing arguments in the Martha Stewart trial set to begin Monday in New York, the celebrity defendant faced one less charge. Last Friday, the judge dismissed the most serious charge against her, securities fraud. Stewart still faces four lesser counts in the stock- trading case.

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