USA

The Pentagon has directed a criminal investigation to be opened into the death of Army Ranger and former pro football player Pat Tillman, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2004. Tillman's parents have been critical of the Army for first reporting the death as the result of enemy fire, but later indicating the cause was friendly fire. The probe will seek to determine whether negligent homicide or another crime may have been committed by a fellow soldier. Tillman walked away from a $3.6 million sports contract to join the Army.

AT&T could sign a deal as early as Monday to buy Atlanta-based BellSouth Corp. for $65 billion, according to media reports. If the merger goes through, the combined company would have 70 million local-line phone customers and nearly 10 million broadband subscribers.

One construction worker was missing and presumed dead, but three others were rescued Saturday night from a burning 900-foot smokestack in Moundsville, W.Va., where they were working at a power plant. The survivors are listed in stable condition.

Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, who surrendered to police after fleeing a University of North Carolina plaza where he allegedly hit nine pedestrians with a rented SUV Friday, is due to appear in court Monday to face nine counts of attempted murder. The Iranian-born graduate of the Chapel Hill, N.C., campus told investigators he wanted to "avenge the deaths of Muslims around the world." No one was seriously injured in the incident.

As President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice prepare to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Tuesday in Washington, a new Council on Foreign Relations report says Russia's drift away from democratic norms is impairing bilateral cooperation. "In particular," the study concludes, "Russia's relations with other post-Soviet states have become a source of significantly heightened US-Russian friction."

Former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R) of California was sentenced to eight years and four months in prison for collecting $2.4 million in illegal gifts and bribes, the longest term meted out to a congressman in decades.

The National Football League plans to begin free agency Monday if a labor agreement, agreed to in 1992 and which has two more years to run, isn't extended. If that fails and the salary cap per team isn't lifted, many players could enter an overcrowded free-agent market.

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