President Bush reportedly is seeking UN approval for a multinational force in Iraq - led by an American commander - after meeting Tuesday with Secretary of State Powell. The change would encourage foreign contributions to the postwar effort, administration officials said. It comes amid rising domestic concern about US casualties and the high cost of the military operation. State Department officials said a draft resolution is ready for the UN Security Council and expressed hope for its passage by the end of the month, when Bush is due to address the UN.

A "narrowly focused" US-Canadian inquiry will find the cause of the power blackout in eight states and parts of Ontario last month, Energy Secretary Abraham testified at a House committee hearing. The joint task force will "determine precisely what happened," why it wasn't contained, and recommend ways to prevent future outages, Abraham said.

Barring a last-minute stay, anti-abortion extremist Paul Hill was to be executed Wednesday for the 1994 killings of a doctor and his bodyguard outside a women's clinic in Pensacola, Fla. Hill, a former Presbyterian minister, told a press conference Tuesday, "I expect a great reward in heaven.... I don't feel remorse." Abortion-rights groups have voiced concern the execution could prompt violence by Hill's supporters.

A federal appeals court in San Francisco overturned 100 death sentences in Arizona, Montana, and Idaho Tuesday because they were imposed by judges, not juries. The panel cited a 2002 US Supreme Court ruling in commuting the sentences to life in prison. At the time, the High Court didn't specify whether its decision applied to inmates already on death row, and Arizona's attorney general says his state will ask for a review.

In their first televised debate, the nine declared Democratic presidential contenders for their party's 2004 nomination will try to attract voters and differentiate themselves from rivals Thursday in Albuquerque, N.M. Bush, Iraq, the economy, tax cuts, and health insurance are expected to be the main topics.

Police are investigating vandalism to 20 sport utility vehicles and two other cars at a dealership in Humble, Texas, that its managers say may be the work of radical environmentalists, The Houston Chronicle reported. SUVs have been targets of sporadic attacks by environmental activists in other states, notably California late last month.

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