USA

Appearing on CBS's "60 Minutes" Sunday night, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice asserted again that she'll refuse to testify publicly under oath before the special commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But she told the program, "Nothing would be better" from a personal point of view than doing so. She has met behind closed doors with the commission, but has been criticized by, among others, some relatives of 9/11 victims, for citing precedents that sitting national security advisers do not testify before Congress.

Legal challenges to a ban of "partial birth" or late-term abortions were to come before courts in New York; San Francisco; and Lincoln, Neb., Monday. The lawsuits are being brought by the National Abortion Federation, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and a handful of doctors, who contend that legislation passed by Congress last November is unconstitutional since it puts the health of expectant mothers at risk. Of 1.3 million abortions performed annually in the US, an estimated 2,200 to 5,000 are "late-term."

Citing reports of a quarreling jury, defense lawyers for former Tyco International executives Dennis Kozlowski and Mark Schwartz asked for - and were granted - a recess by the judge while he considers whether to declare a mistrial. Meanwhile, in Denver, a federal judge refused to acquit four former Qwest executives accused of artificially boosting company revenues by $34 million, saying there was enough evidence to support guilty verdicts.

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader said Sunday he will meet next month with John Kerry, the presumed Democratic Party nominee, to discuss their joint interest in defeating President Bush in the November election.

The four-month investigation into a string of Ohio highway sniper shootings - one of them fatal - cost city, state, and federal agencies $3 million in overtime pay, aircraft surveillance, and secuity equipment, The Columbus Dispatch reported Sunday. The pursuit finally led to suspected shooter Charles McCoy Jr., who was arrested March 17 in Las Vegas.

Two Atlantic Coast Conference schools, Duke and Georgia Tech, advanced in men's basketball to next weekend's NCAA Final Four matchups in San Antonio, Texas. Duke defeated Xavier of Ohio; Georgia Tech topped Kansas in overtime. Filling out the Final Four are Connecticut, which beat Alabama, and Oklahoma State, which defeated St. Joseph's.

Massachusetts lawmakers were to debate a constitutional amendment on same-sex marriage for the third time Monday. Thus far they have failed to agree on a proposed amendment that would ban such marriages but make Massachusetts the second state, after Vermont, to grant civil-union benefits. Spurring the deliberations is a state Supreme Court ruling that will legalize same-sex marriages beginning in mid-May.

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