USA

John Kerry's idea to postpone accepting his formal nomination as the Democratic presidential candidate until after the party's Boston convention in late July was being received favorably over the weekend by many of his fellow Democrats. Political analysts said such a strategy could blunt a financial edge by Republicans, who are due to hold their convention five weeks later. Kerry and President Bush each plan to rely on $75 million in federal cash as their sole source of campaign funding after accepting their respective nominations, so by delaying his acceptance Kerry could continue to raise and spend nonfederal money.

A lawyer for one of the US soldiers charged with mistreating Iraqi prisoners alleged that Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the highest ranking military commander in Iraq, was present during some of the abusive interrogations, The Washington Post reported. Capt. Robert Shuck, who's assigned to defend Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick, an accused organizer of the abuse, said in an April 2 hearing that a company commander noted Sanchez's presence in Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. A Pentagon spokesman told the Post that statements by defense attorneys should be treated with "appropriate caution."

The White House said it could not confirm a report in The New York Times Sunday that North Korea provided Libya with almost two tons of uranium in 2001. Earlier this year, Libya turned over a large stock of uranium hexaflouride to the US as part of Col. Muammar Qaddafi's agreement to dismantle his nuclear program. Although experts told the Times that the amount of uranium was less than needed for a nuclear weapon, it raises questions about whether North Korea may have supplied other nations or terrorist groups with the raw materials needed for atomic weapons.

Eighty tornadoes touched down in the northern Plains and Midwest over the weekend, as severe storms knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of customers. Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns (R) declared a state of emergency.

Members of the 100,000-member Communications Workers of America hit the picket lines around the US over the weekend to protest the lack of headway in contract negotiations with SBC Communications, the nation's No. 2 local phone company.

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