USA

Although its final report was submitted last year, the Sept. 11 commission will investigate a new claim that defense intelligence officials identified 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta and three other hijackers as likely Al Qaeda terrorists in 1999 - without informing law- enforcement officials. The commission's report identified numerous security mistakes that allowed the hijackers to succeed, but said it knew of no pre-9/11 surveillance of Atta or his cell, which commission co-chair Lee Hamilton said would have been a major focus of its investigation "had we learned of it." The claim was raised by US Rep. Curt Weldon (R) of Pennsylvania.

By December, the US will begin selective issuing of electronic passports , the State Department said. They come with an embedded computer chip that contains all the usual information, plus a unique digital signature to prevent tampering. By October 2006, the new documents will be distributed by all American passport agencies.

California's largest teachers union and the state's school superintendent filed a lawsuit against Gov. Arnold Schwarze-negger (R) Tuesday in an effort to restore $3.1 billion they claim is owed public schools. Schwarzenegger denies that there was a deal to share excess state revenues as a condition of the schools' acceptance of a 2003 budget cut.

Mitchell Johnson, who was convicted in the 1998 schoolyard shooting deaths of four students and a teacher in Jonesboro, Ark., is to be released from a federal detention center Thursday under a since-closed loophole in the juvenile justice system. Fellow shooter Andrew Golden gets out in 2007.

Investigations and excavations that began in 1993 have identified the remains of a dozen US servicemen killed in Vietnam 37 years ago, the Pentagon said Tuesday. The remains are scheduled for a ceremonial group burial at Arlington National Cemetery on Oct. 11.

President Bush was to sign a $286.4 billion federal transportation bill in Aurora, Ill., that took Congress nearly two years to hammer out and includes funding for 6,371 special projects.

A dispute over ownership of a 1922 painting by Pablo Picasso was settled in Los Angeles. Marilynn Alsdorf, who bought it for $375,000 from a New York gallery in 1975, agreed to pay $6.5 million to the grandson of a Jewish woman from whom it was stolen by Nazis in World War II. Alsdorf decided she'd rather pay for "Femme en blanc (Woman in white)," than continue a legal tug-of-war. Today, art experts value the painting at more than $12 million.

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