An Iraqi scientist known as "Dr. Germ" is in custody after surrendering to coalition forces over the weekend, the US Central Command announced. Rihab Taha, wife of the former oil minister, is considered the Saddam Hussein regime's leading expert on weapons-grade anthrax and thus may have key information. The Bush administration insisted that war was the only way to disarm Iraq of its huge stockpiles of banned weapons, but US search teams have yet to find any.

Recent talks between the US and Iran concern "practical matters" related to Iraq and Afghanistan - not a possible resumption of diplomatic ties - National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said, countering a report in USA Today. American diplomats discussed reestablishing relations with the Shiite Islamic theocracy at three secret meetings in Geneva this year, according to the paper. Publicly, the Bush administration has warned Iran against fostering a similar regime in Iraq. The US severed relations after Americans were taken hostage during the 1979 revolution, and the president named Iran as part of his "axis of evil," with Iraq and North Korea.

The most comprehensive test of homeland security preparedness to date was beginning in Seattle Monday. The $16 million weeklong exercise known as "Topoff 2" is simulating the explosion of a radiological "dirty bomb" in that city, followed by a simulated biological outbreak Tuesday in Chicago that will spread to Vancouver, British Columbia, to assess the disaster-response, coordination, and communications skills of federal, state, and local agencies.

Federal Communications Chairman (FCC) Michael Powell was expected to propose relaxing the limits on ownership of print, radio, and television outlets Monday. The changes reportedly include allowing a single owner to control 45 percent of national television broadcasts, up from the current 35 percent, and to own as many as three TV stations and one newspaper in major markets. Large entertainment companies, such as News Corp. and Viacom, contend that the rules are outdated and hurt business. The FCC is due to make decision by early next month.

Suspecting a connection to the 2001 anthrax mailings, the FBI may drain a pond in Frederick, Md., to look for evidence, Mayor Jennifer Dougherty confirmed Sunday. The Washington Post earlier reported that a clear plastic box, plastic-wrapped vials, and other items were recovered from the pond over the winter by federal agents. Some reportedly theorize that those responsible for the attacks may have assembled tainted letters under water to guard against both infection and detection. The anthrax mailings killed five people and sickened 13 others.

Nominations for the 2003 Tony Awards, Broadway's top honor, were announced in New York. Brian Dennehy and Vanessa Redgrave are among the contenders for best actor and actress in a play, for Eugene O'Neill's "Long Day's Journey Into Night." In all, the revival is up for seven Tonys. The rock musical "Hairspray" drew the most nominations, with 13. The awards will be presented June 8 at Radio City Music Hall.

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