President Bush is being advised to pronounce Iraq's weapons declaration inadequate, but not to take immediate military action, administration officials said. The president is expected to make a public statement Friday, they said. The recommendations by Bush's national security team reportedly call for the US to raise pressure on UN weapons inspectors to interview expatriate Iraqi scientists. If they provide evidence against Saddam Hussein, or if the Iraqi leader resists such efforts, the US could proclaim Iraq in "material breach" of the UN disarmament resolution. That, officials said, could justify US-led military action.

Conseco Inc. filed for bankruptcy, the third-largest such filing in US history after WorldCom and Enron. The insurance and finance company based in Carmel, Ind., took the widely anticipated step after reaching tentative agreements with two of three groups of creditors to whom it owes $6.5 billion. Much of the debt stemmed from failed acquisitions in the 1990s, chief among them the 1998 purchase of Green Tree Financial, the nation's top mobile-home lender.

The US's trade deficit fell to $35.07 billion in October, the lowest level since March and the second straight monthly decline, the Commerce Department reported. Economists said the drop was probably temporary, due mainly to reduced imports from the 10-day lockout at major West Coast ports.

Three indicted relatives of a Yemeni- American accused of belonging to an Al Qaeda cell faced a bail hearing in Buffalo, N.Y. Mohammed Albanna, a prominent activist in the Yemeni community, along with his brother and a cousin are charged with running an unlicensed money-transfer business. They allegedly sent more than $480,000 to Yemen since October, although prosecutors said there is no evidence the funds went to terrorists.

Four men were arrested and a fifth was being sought by federal antiterrorism agents in Dallas, authorities said. The detainees, who are wanted for money-laundering, reportedly worked at Infocom, a computer company that did business in the Middle East. Some company officers also were leaders in the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, an Islamic charity shut down after the Treasury Department accused it of serving as funding conduit for the Islamic militant group Hamas.

A pair of tornadoes killed two people, one of them a newlywed, injured 20 others, and leveled 30 trailers in a mobile-home park in southwestern Missouri early Wednesday. "Debris is teetering and it's not a place for people to be wandering about," said Sheriff Doug Seneker of Chesapeake, Mo.

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