The current political campaign season will be the last in which party committees and candidates collect unlimited "soft money" donations after passage Wednesday in the Senate of a campaign finance bill championed by John McCain (R) of Arizona and Russ Feingold (D) of Wisconsin. President Bush has said he will sign the bill, but opponents vow to challenge its constitutionality in court. With the spigot of unlimited donations about to be turned off, analysts say political fund-raisers will be pressed to collect as much as possible in the short term to influence this fall's battle for congressional seats. (Editorial, page 10.)

Undeterred by a lethal car-bomb blast outside the US Embassy in Peru, Bush was to leave on a four-day, three-nation tour of Latin America to promote democracy and reform. His first stop: Monterrey, Mexico, for a two-day UN development conference, where he planned to promote a new aid plan for the world's poorest countries. He will also discuss border security with Mexican President Vicente Fox. Tomorrow, Bush is to become the first sitting US president to visit Peru, where he'll meet President Alejandro Toledo and the leaders of Bolivia, Colombia, and Ecuador. (Related story, page 1.)

A key gauge of economic activity remained flat in February following four straight months of gains, suggesting an uneven recovery in the months ahead, analysts said. The New York-based Conference Board reported its Index of Leading Economic Indicators remained steady last month following a revised 0.8 percent increase in January. Analysts had forecast a 0.1 percent gain.

There isn't enough evidence to prove that the ex-first family engaged in criminal wrongdoing, independent counsel Robert Ray concluded in his final report on the Whitewater investigation. But he said the Clintons' mid-1980s Arkansas land venture benefited from criminal activity and that the former president and first lady gave factually inaccurate testimony.

After weeks of being battered by Enron-related scandal, employees of Arthur Andersen were fighting to save their company – and their jobs. Protest rallies early Thursday in Philadelphia and Washington showed a feistier public attitude as the company fights a criminal indictment that could put it out of business. Above, employee Kathleen King sheds a tear at a rally on Capitol Hill.

The family of an American missionary and her infant daughter killed when their plane was shot down in Peru last April will be compensated by the US government. On the eve of Bush's visit to Latin America, the White House expressed regret for the deaths but stopped short of admitting responsibility. The plane was downed by a Peruvian military jet after a CIA surveillance plane misidentified it. The sum has not been disclosed.

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