USA

With violent resistance to America's military presence in Iraq growing, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld was to announce Thursday that about 21,000 US soldiers wlll stay beyond their one-year tour of duty. Because of their combat experience and familiarity with insurgents' tactics, about 18,000 members of the 1st Armored Division, based in Germany, and 2,800 troops in the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment from Fort Polk, La., will remain in Iraq three more months, despite the Army's pledge to limit tours to 12 months. About 1,000 soldiers in a Kuwait-based transport unit that resupplies troops also will stay on.

President Bush endorsed letting Israel hold on to settlements in the West Bank in any final peace deal with the Palestinians. In a White House meeting Wednesday with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, he said he backed the proposal to withdraw Israeli troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank and to block Palestinians from returning to properties inside Israeli land their descendents had occupied before the Arab-Israeli war of 1948. The talks were part of the White House road map for peace in the region.

In what his attorney called a "bittersweet victory," Capt. James Yee, the Muslim chaplain accused - and later exonerated - of espionage, was given a clean slate by the chief of the Army's Southern Command. Gen. James Hill said he was overturning Yee's reprimands for adultery and downloading pornography because "further stigmatizing" him would not "serve a just and fair purpose." Yee, who served at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba, has resumed his duties at Fort Lewis, Wash.

The special 10-member commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks was told Wednesday by John Brennan, director of the federal Terrorist Threat Integration Center, that "more attacks are in the planning stages, and US lives and property are being actively targeted by Al Qaeda." CIA Director George Tenet testified that it will take five years to turn his agency and others dealing with intelligence into the network needed to fight terrorism. The commission, which is reviewing proposals to prevent future attacks, is scheduled to issue its final report in July.

The number of counties in the US with harmful ozone levels has doubled to 470 out of 2,700, officials of the Environmental Protection Agency told the Los Angeles Times. The agency was to release a report on the matter as the Monitor went to press. The EPA says the increase results from new, tougher air-quality standards for ozone pollution, which researchers believe is the cause of a number of health problems.

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