USA

People along Florida's southwest coast and in the low-lying Keys hurried to make preparations for the arrival of hurricane Wilma. Forecasters expect it to make landfall sometime Sunday, a day later than previously thought because Wilma slowed down midweek as it approached Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has advised people in the potential path of the storm, which has reached Category 4 and 5 levels at various times, to stockpile three days' worth of provisions. The White House, a spokesman said, was "asking tough questions" of state and local government officials" in a "renewed effort to make coordination at all levels of government as seamless as possible."

Harriet Miers, President Bush's Supreme Court nominee, said she'd try to provide more information to the Senate Judiciary Committee considering her qualifications after committee leaders said her answers to a 57-page questionnaire were "insufficient." They reportedly want to know how the White House counsel would handle cases that involve the Bush administration and would explain her short-lived suspension from the Washington, D.C., Bar Association for nonpayment of dues.

Bush held a much-anticipated meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House, calling his guest a courageous leader but also insisting that he do more in rejecting and cracking down on terrorist activities of militant groups such as Hamas. Bush never invited Abbas's predecessor, Yasser Arafat, to the White House.

The Houston Astros, a wild-card playoff qualifier, clinched the first World Series berth in the franchise's 44-year history Wednesday night by completing a 4-games-to-2 National League showdown with the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals had posted baseball's best regular-season record. The Astros travel to Chicago for Saturday's World Series opener against the White Sox, who are bidding for their franchise's first championship since 1917.

Responding to an investigation by the Environment Protection Agency last year, 24 airlines signed an agreement with the government Wednesday to adopt tougher safeguards for monitoring and disinfecting drinking water served to passengers. Although the carriers agreed to $27,500 fines for each violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act, their trade group, the Air Transport Association, said the water quality aboard planes is as safe as that in the municipalities that supply it.

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