USA

In a federal indictment unsealed in New York, prosecutors accused three men, including a Texas businessman, of participating in a scheme to corrupt the UN's oil-for-food program in Iraq. American David Chalmers and Bulgarian Ludmil Dionis-siev, who is a permanent US resident, were arrested at their homes in Houston. Extradition proceedings will be pursued to bring British citizen John Irving, the third defendant, to the US. The government seeks the forfeiture of at least $100 million in assets from the accused, who allegedly participated in a kickback scheme that skimmed proceeds from oil sales that were intended for humanitarian relief.

Law enforcement officials were expected to announce that they have rounded up 10,000 fugitives from justice, among them 162 accused or convicted of murder, as well as people wanted for armed robbery and rape during a weeklong, national dragnet earlier this month, CNN reported.

Connecticut lawmakers moved a step closer Wednesday to making the state the first in the nation to voluntarily allow same-sex civil unions. Gov. Jodi Rell (R) praised House of Representatives members for approving what she called "a stronger and clearer" bill and vowed to sign it if senators sign off on the amended version.

With millions of taxpayers racing to file tax returns by Friday's deadline, new survey results indicate that 81 percent of adults believe the federal income tax is somewhat or very complex. The poll by the Tax Foundation occurs as President Bush is making tax reform a centerpiece of his domestic agenda. When asked their preferred method of revenue collection, 37 percent of adults chose a flat tax with no deductions, 19 percent favored a national sales tax, and 19 percent preferred the status quo.

Cigarette lighters, which have been barred from airplane cargo holds for at least 30 years, were officially added to the list of banned carry-on items by the Transportation Security Administration. The ban does not include book matches.

Brothers Ghassan and Bayan Elashi were found guilty Wednesday of using their Richardson, Texas, computer company, InfoCom Corp., to funnel money to support Hamas, the militant Palestinian group. They were found guilty of all 21 federal counts and will be sentenced Aug. 1. A third brother was acquitted on all but three counts. Defense lawyer Michael Gibson vowed to appeal the verdict.

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