USA

Three US soldiers have been charged with rape and murder and a fourth with dereliction of duty in the alleged rape-slaying of a young Iraqi woman and the killings of her relatives in Mahmoudiya, the military said Sunday. Ex-soldier Steven D. Green was arrested last week in North Carolina and has pleaded not guilty to one count of rape and four counts of murder. The four soldiers still on active duty will face an investigation similar to a grand jury hearing in civilian law, the US statement said. The proceeding will determine whether there is enough evidence to place them on trial. The names of the four soldiers were not released.

The US will begin talks with Russia aimed at reaching an agreement on civilian nuclear energy cooperation, The Washington Post reported. The deal would clear the way for Russia to import and store thousands of tons of spent nuclear fuel from US-supplied reactors around the world, the newspaper said. The decision – that is expected to be worth billions of dollars to Russia and could anger some in Congress – could be announced at Bush's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin next Saturday.

Heavy equipment operators at the World Trade Center reconstruction site and 1,000 other city projects agreed to end a weeklong strike, the New York mayor's office said on Saturday. Union members who had walked off he job included employees of companies building the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower and a transit hub at the trade center site. They planned to be back to work Monday.

The White House possibly broke the law by keeping intelligence activities a secret from the lawmakers responsible for overseeing them, the House Intelligence Committee chairman said Sunday. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, (R) of Mich., said he was informed about the programs by whistleblowers in the intelligence community and then asked the Bush administration about the programs, using code names. Hoekstra said members of the House and Senate intelligence committees then were briefed on the programs, which he said is required by law.

An investigation into the three apparent suicides at the Guantanamo Bay prison has found that other detainees may have helped the men hang themselves or were planning on killing themselves, too. Authorities, who searched other detainees' cells after the three were found hanged, discovered instructions on tying knots, along with several notes in Arabic that were relevant to an investigation of a possible broader plot, officials said in court papers. Lawyers for the Guantanamo detainees have condemned the confiscation of the legal papers as a violation of attorney-client privilege and asked a judge to order their immediate return.

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