Three Senate office buildings were closed following the discovery of ricin, a deadly poison, in a mailroom Monday by staffers of majority leader Bill Frist (R) of Tennessee. The white powder is undergoing further tests to confirm initial results. "This is a criminal action," said Frist, who added that no one appeared injured. Sixteen people at the Dirksen office building, where the substance was found, underwent decontamination as a precaution. Above, workers carry out mail and other materials in trash bags for additional checks.

Postal officials in Connecticut, meanwhile, were investigating a suspicious powder found leaking from an envelope at the Wallingford sorting center. The letter was addressed to the Republican National Committee, inspectors said, and was believed to have originated within the state.

If he'd had accurate intelligence on Iraq, Secretary of State Powell doesn't know if he'd have recommended a US invasion, he told The Washington Post. The absence of a stockpile of banned weapons "changes the political calculus" Powell said, while insisting that history will determine that the war "was the right thing to do." President Bush is to appoint a nine member panel to investigate the intelligence lapse and others that failed to accurately gauge nuclear programs in Iran, Libya, and North Korea.

Virginia's ban on a controversial abortion procedure is unconstitutional, a federal court ruled Monday. US District Judge Richard Williams said the law violates privacy rights and fails to make an exception for a woman's health. The state's attorney general said he will appeal the decision. The wording of the measure closely mirrors a federal ban on the procedure, called "partial birth abortion" by opponents, which Bush signed last year.

Police were searching for a teenage suspect in a shooting at Ballou High School in Washington Monday that killed one student and injured another. Many parents were angry at the most serious in a series of recent security scares at the school. Mayor Anthony Williams (D) pledged support for efforts to improve security and called on parents and students to help provide a "safe learning environment."

One million fans were expected at a parade in Boston honoring the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots as the Monitor went to press. The Federal Communications Commission, meanwhile, is investigating whether singer Janet Jackson's halftime performance at Sunday night's game violated decency standards. FCC chief Michael Powell called her partial nudity at the end of a song with Justin Timberlake "a classless, crass, and deplorable stunt."

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