USA

On Tuesday, a spokesman for New York City's environmental protection agency said he was "pretty sure" that the mysterious odor detected in much of Manhattan and parts of New Jersey Monday emanated from an industrial site near Seacaucus, N.J. Officials previously said there was no indication the air was unsafe or that terrorism was involved.

Attorneys for American Jose Padilla, a suspected Al Qaeda operative, filed a motion Monday in US District Court, asking that statements he made during 3-1/2 years in a Navy brig be declared inadmissable evidence. Padilla's public defenders argued that statements he made in military custody were coerced, a claim the Justice Department and Pentagon have repeatedly denied. The deadline for establishing Padilla's mental competence to stand trial was also raised during the Miami court session.

Republican Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, kicked off his presidential campaign with a fundraising blitz Monday that raised $6.5 million. The impressive amount underscored the "validity" of his candidacy, Romney said, and is much more than GOP rivals Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani have raised.

In a conciliatory gesture, President Bush placed a call to Nicaraguan President-elect Daniel Ortega Monday to say he thinks their two countries should be able to cooperate in areas such as job creation and democracy. Ortega, who takes office Wednesday, was a thorn in America's side during his first tour as president in the 1980s, when his government fought US-backed rebels.

The American Bankers Association reported Tuesday that the percentage of credit-card payments 30 or more days past due increased to 4.57 percent during the July-to-September quarter, its highest point in a year.

Folks in Farmers Branch, Texas, a Dallas suburb, will get to vote May 12 on a new rule requiring apartment landlords to verify the immigration or citizenship status of renters, the city countil decided Monday. Meantime, the rental ordinance that received council approval late last year will take effect Friday. Once mostly a small, white, bedroom community, Farmers Branch now has 28,000 residents, of which 37 percent are Hispanic.

The University of Florida became the first major college to simultaneously hold national titles in football and basketball when the Gators convincingly beat favored Ohio State, 41-14, in Monday night's Bowl Championship Series football matchup in Glendale, Ariz. Florida finished the season 13-1 and replaced the previously undefeated Buckeyes as the nation's top-ranked team. The Gators also won the national title in 1996.

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