The possibility of war with Iraq and terrorist threats were the key topics, as Bush administration officials testified before various Senate panels.

• Secretary of State Powell told the Budget Committee a new statement by Osama bin Laden avowing "partnership" with Iraq shows that their ties "can no longer be ... ignored."

• In a joint appearance before the Intelligence Committee, the CIA and FBI directors said Al Qaeda remains a persistent threat, although their agencies are far better prepared to detect and prevent attacks since Sept. 11, 2001. The recent upgrade of the national terrorist threat level was prompted by concerns of a possible attack this week, CIA chief George Tenet said. • Uncertainties about war pose "formidable barriers" to business spending and are holding back economic recovery, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told the Banking Committee. Still, he said, the Fed anticipates the economy will grow by as much as 3.5 percent this year.

A federal judge suspended Washington State regulations that bar phone companies from selling information about customers, while she considers whether they're constitutional. Verizon Communications is suing over the privacy protections, which are among the toughest in the US, claiming they infringe on its right to serve customers.

The Labor Department accused Whirlpool Corp. of discrimination for rejecting 650 minority applicants for jobs at its Tulsa, Okla., plant. The department said a multiple-choice test screened out a higher proportion of minorities than whites. The appliancemaker said it no longer uses the test but stands by its hiring practices.

Ron Ziegler, who died in Coronado, Calif., served as President Nixon's press secretary and was known for his fierce loyalty to the administration and a combative style with the press. As the Watergate scandal unfolded, he famously dismissed the break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters as a "third-rate burglary." It eventually forced Nixon to resign.

"Chicago" won 13 Academy Award nominations, more than any other film. That includes a Best Actress nod for Renee Zellweger. The industry's top honors will be presented March 23.

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