USA

The chief US arms inspector for Iraq was to deliver the final report of his survey group to the Senate Armed Services Committee Wednesday. According to drafts, Charles Duelfer and his colleagues concluded that Saddam Hussein's government had no stockpiles of banned weapons. But it said there were signs of idle programs that Hussein could have revived once international attention waned. The group did not deal with whether Hussein's government had contacts with members of the Al Qaeda terrorist network, a matter that remains subject to wide debate.

Vice President Cheney and Democratic Sen. John Edwards took off the gloves Tuesday night in a blunt debate in Cleveland. The exchange featured repeated personal attacks on each other's record and judgment. Cheney suggested that Edwards and presidential candidate John Kerry shifted their views on the Iraq war after assessing the popularity of antiwar candidate Howard Dean in the Democratic Party primaries. Edwards accused Cheney of not "being straight" with the public about Iraq. He also said Cheney's long résumé of government service "does not equal good judgment."

Persistent rumors that a new military draft was on the way. were resoundingly quashed in the House Tuesday. A bill introduced by Rep. Charles Rangel (D) of New York as a political litmus test lost on a 402-2 vote, but not until the sides accused one another of gamesmanship regarding the hot-button issue, which Republicans dismissed as "the hoax of the year." Concerns about a draft were fueled in part by Rock the Vote, a nonpartisan group that seeks to increase youth voter participation.

A federal indictment was unsealed Tuesday accusing former NASA inspector Billy Thornton, of falsifying records about critical parts of the shuttle Discovery before and after the Feb. 1, 2003, disaster that killed seven astronauts and grounded the entire orbiter fleet. An independent board that investigated the accident did not find evidence that poor-quality inspections contributed to the reentry explosion, but it did recommend that NASA reinspect critical parts. Thornton declined comment, but his lawyer denied any wrongdoing by his client.

Comedian Rodney Dangerfield, who died Tuesday in Los Angeles, is perhaps best remembered for his one-liner, "I don't get no respect," which summed up his self-deprecating, Everyman humor. His performance in the 1980 hit movie "Caddy-shack" was a landmark in a career that took off after he appeared on television's "Ed Sullivan Show" in 1967.

Mount St. Helens in southwest Washington State blew volcanic ash thousands of feet into the sky Tuesday. But geologists and vulcanologists, who have been warning that an eruption of some kind was imminent, revised their forecast. A more probable scenario, they said, was weeks or perhaps months of smaller-scale venting, with the possibility that lava could enlarge the dome within the mountain's gaping crater.

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