USA

Free trade negotiators from the US and South Korea met Monday in Seoul, hoping to reach a major deal after 10 months of haggling. A sense of urgency surrounded the talks because President Bush's Trade Promotion Authority, which allows him to send trade agreements to Congress for straight yes-or-no votes without amendments, ends Saturday. Many South Koreans oppose opening their markets to an influx of US goods, especially to cars and rice.

Australian David Hicks, who is accused of supporting terrorism, on Monday became the first prisoner to face a newly reconstituted war crimes tribunal at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. Hicks is accused of fighting US and coalition forces in Afghanistan in 2001. But his lawyers, who claim their client should be tried in the US court-martial system, say there's no evidence he ever fired on American troops.

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to review a child pornography law that an appeals court found was impermissibly vague. The issue rose in the case of Michael Williams, who was arrested in an undercover operation aimed at combatting child exploitation on the Internet. The Bush administration believes a pandering provision wasn't properly interpreted.

A year after more than 500,000 protesters marched in Los Angeles to oppose criminalizing undocumented workers, an immigrant-rights rally in the city attracted only about 5,000 supporters to mark the anniversary.

Citigroup Inc., the nation's largest bank, is considering a plan to cut about 15,000 jobs as a means of addressing declining profits, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

Intel Corp. of Santa Clara, Calif., said Monday it will build a $2.5 billion computer chip factory in Dalian, China. That would bring the company's overall investments in the country to $4 billion. The plant is slated to open in 2010.

The University of Florida, the defending national champion in men's basketball, and Georgetown advanced with tournament victories Sunday to the Final Four in Atlanta, where they'll be joined by Ohio State and UCLA. In the first of two semifinal games, top-ranked Ohio State will take on Georgetown March 31, with Florida-vs.-UCLA to follow in a rematch of last year's championship game.

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