USA

The Senate Judiciary Committee opened a hearing Monday on National Security Agency eavesdropping within the US, a practice that has raised concerns on both sides of the aisle. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the leadoff testifier, defended Presient Bush's warrantless program, but was challenged by Sen. Arlen Specter (R) of Pennsylvania, the committee chairman, who said that "the president does not have a blank check." Meanwhile, citing unnamed telecommunications executives and intelligence officials, USA Today reported that MCI, Sprint, and AT&T granted access to their systems for the surveillance without warrants or court orders.

Confessed Al Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui was removed from a heavily guarded federal courtroom in Alexandria, Va., on Monday after he disrupted the first day of jury selection in the sentencing phase of his long legal odyssey. The Frenchman of Moroccan descent shouted "I am Al Qaeda" and "This trial is a circus." Selecting a jury from among 500 potential candidates is expected to take a month. Moussaoui, who will be put to death or given life in prison, has said he knew of Al Qaeda's plans to fly planes into US buildings but nothing of the Sept. 11, 2001, plot. He was in a Minnesota jail on immigration charges when the 9/11 attacks occurred.

A lockdown remained in effect Monday at southern California's North County Correctional Facility, where brawls occurred both Saturday and Sunday. About 2,000 inmates were involved in a Saturday riot that appeared to be racially motivated and left one black prisoner dead. Although black and Hispanic inmates were segregated after the initial violence, about 200 inmates fought in two dorms late Sunday, with 10 people sustaining minor injuries.

To combat homemade bomb attacks in Iraq, the Pentagon is prepared to triple its spending to about $3.5 billion to find ways to protect US troops, The New York Times reported. Last year, 407 of the 846 Americans killed in Iraq were killed by the bombs, which are called improvised explosive devices (IEDS).

The Pittsburgh Steelers were resourceful enough when it counted Sunday to defeat the Seattle Seahawks, 21-10, to win Super Bowl XL in Detroit. The victory gave Pittsburgh its first NFL championship since the 1979 season and a fifth overall, tying the record shared by Dallas and San Francisco.

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