A final judgment on Iraq's weapons declaration won't be ready until later this week, but the Bush administration's doubts that Baghdad would comply fully appear "well founded," Secretary of State Powell said Monday. "There are problems with the declaration," Powell said, without elaborating.

President Bush announced he has ordered the deployment of 10 interceptor rockets in Alaska by 2004, a step toward fulfilling his campaign pledge to implement a national missile-defense system. But the latest test of the multibillion-dollar program, last week, brought the third failure in eight attempts.

With his leadership of the Senate increasingly in doubt, Trent Lott (R) of Mississippi appeared on Black Entertainment Television Monday night, calling his remarks interpreted as supporting segregation "a terrible mistake." Senate Republicans will consider Jan. 6 whether to replace him as majority leader as a result of the controversy.

A day after being named to lead an independent inquiry into the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean promised a bipartisan and thorough investigation. "I've got no problems in going as far as we have to in finding out the facts," Kean told NBC's "Today" show. Bush chose the Republican moderate to chair the 10-member National Commission on Terrorist Attacks after Henry Kissinger resigned. The panel of five Republicans and five Democrats is due begin work next month.

Storms off the Pacific Ocean that have brought record rains, snow, flooding, and winds of up to 100 m.p.h. to West Coast states since the weekend are blamed for at least nine deaths in California, Oregon, and Nevada. A National Weather Service forecaster said the "seriously unstable pattern" of weather is expected to continue through New Year's Day.

After an outbreak of bacteria linked to the death of one recruit and the illness of more than 100 others, the Marine Corps suspended all strenuous activity for 3,000 trainees at its San Diego facility for at least three days. The death of Pvt. Miguel Zavala was the third at the training center in as many weeks, but officials there said the previous fatalities were unrelated.

All 50 states and Washington, D.C., OK'd a $484 million settlement with Household International. The nation's second-largest consumer-finance firm had been accused of predatory lending to low-income homebuyers. Some consumer groups criticized the agreement as insufficient.

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