USA

President Bush, who has made Middle East peace a top second-term priority, will meet Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Monday at his Crawford, Texas, ranch. While flying back from Pope John Paul II's funeral over the weekend, Bush said he expects to underscore the importance of not expanding Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip, as agreed to in a "road map" for peace in the region.

To avoid a death sentence, serial bomber Eric Rudolph agreed Friday in Atlanta to plead guilty to detonating a series of explosions, including the deadly 1996 Olympic park bombing in Atlanta, a fatal 1998 abortion clinic blast in Birmingham, Ala., and two others in Atlanta in 1997. Rudolph will receive four consecutive life terms if judges agree to the plea deal in a hearing set for Wednesday. Rudolph eluded investigators for more than five years before being found in the Appalachian foothills. He directed authorities to dynamite and a bomb in western North Carolina, information that helped prompt prosecutors to agree to the deal.

The Postal Rate Commission urged Congress to raise the price of a first-class stamp from 37 cents to 39 cents next year, a hike the Postal Service said is necessary to offset the $3.1 billion it's required to keep in escrow. Postal officials have been urging Congress to drop that requirement and said they will withdraw the rate request if Congress does so. The last time postage rates were raised was mid-2002, from 34 cents.

Jeremy Jaynes, who was convicted in November in the nation's first felony case against illegal computer spamming, was sentenced late last week to nine years in prison for bombarding Internet users with the junk e-mails. His attorneys plan an appeal, claiming the sentence is unduly harsh for a violation of a 2003 Virginia law that had only been on the books weeks before Jaynes sent the spam e-mails.

Six-time champion Jack Nicklaus grew teary-eyed Saturday while completing presumably his last round at the Masters golf tournament. "I don't think I'll venture out on the golf course for a tournament round again," he said after his 4-over-par score failed to qualify for the final rounds of the event he last won in 1986. Nicklaus has consistently said he didn't want to play if he wasn't competitive.

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