US experts will scrutinize Iraq's latest declaration on its weapons programs, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said. It may take weeks to check the 12,000 pages - submitted a day ahead of the UN deadline - for inaccuracies and omissions. The New York Times reported, meanwhile, that as of next month the US will have sufficient military personnel and hardware in the Persian Gulf area to launch an attack on Iraq. President Bush has warned repeatedly he'll take military action if Baghdad fails to comply with the UN-ordered disarmament.

US Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) of Louisiana narrowly won reelection in Saturday's runoff, after a hard-fought challenge from Republican Suzanne Terrell. Initial returns gave Landrieu 52 percent of the vote, to 48 percent for Terrell. The victory keeps Republicans at a 51-49 seat edge in the Senate next term. Also in Louisiana, in a race for a vacant House seat, Democrat Rodney Alexander appeared to have beaten Lee Fletcher of the GOP by a few hundred votes, although Fletcher said he wanted to see the official returns before conceding.

Bush is looking for a new Treasury secretary, after requesting, and receiving, Paul O'Neill's resignation Friday. White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey also stepped down, in a shakeup that came as the administration prepares to present lawmakers with a new economic-stimulus package. Underscoring the uneven recovery, the Labor Department reported unemployment rose to 6 percent in November, tying with April's eight-year high rate.

To avoid a planned protest by six groups demanding his ouster, Cardinal Bernard Law, the head of Boston's Roman Catholic Archdiocese, canceled his usual weekly appearance at Holy Cross Cathedral Sunday. The rally followed reports that the church is considering bankruptcy due to massive legal costs from the clergy sex-abuse scandal, and newly revealed details of Law's treatment of accused priests. And, in a sign of internal dissent, as reported by The Boston Globe and Boston Herald, a group of rank-and-file clergy intended to give Law a petition with at least 50 signatures, urging him to step down.

Exxon Corp. said it will appeal a federal judge's ruling to lower the damage award from the 1989 oil spill in Alaska to $4 billion. An appeals court ruled the original $5 billion was too high. Exxon lawyers had argued for punitive damages to be dropped entirely but then said the figure should be no higher than $40 million.

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