USA

George Bush took the oath of office Thursday as the 16th president to win a second full term - an accomplishment denied his father, George H. W. Bush in 1992. A crowd of 100,000 spectators was expected for the pageantry outside the Capitol, as rooftop sharpshooters and bomb-sniffing dogs served as a reminder of extensive security measures for the first post 9/11 inauguration. In an address dedicated to the theme of freedom, Bush said, "In a world moving toward liberty, we are determined to show the meaning and promise of liberty."

Bush's fledgling missile defense system has achieved a "limited capability" in defending against the possibility of attack by North Korea, the Pentagon said Tuesday in an annual report to Congress on major US weapons programs.

Based on an uncorroborated threat, authorities launched a manhunt Wednesday across the Northeast for four Chinese nationals and two Iraqis described by the FBI as potential terrorist suspects who may be heading for Boston with plans to detonate a "dirty bomb." According to The Boston Globe, police in California were tipped off about the six by an informant in Mexico who said he'd help to smuggle them into the US. A lawenforcement official stressed that the tip is one of many that routinely are forwarded to local task forces for further action.

Despite earlier efforts to say his comments were misconstrued, Harvard University President Lawrence Summers apologized Wednesday for gender-sensitive remarks he made at an economics conference last week. In a letter to the university's standing committee on women he said he was wrong to suggest that women do not have the same natural abilities in mathematics and the sciences as men.

Minnesota, the first state to report medical mistakes using new national standards, said Wednesday that 99 serious errors, among them 20 that proved fatal, were made in its hospitals during a 15-month period, beginning July 1, 2003. New Jersey and Connecticut are other states that have adopted the standards developed by the nonprofit National Quality Forum, which are being considered elsewhere.

Global warming and not a giant asteroid may have nearly wiped out life on Earth 250 million years ago, according to a team of scientists from the University of Washington and Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Australia. In findings released Thursday, they said that too much heat and too little oxygen may have caused the mass extinction.

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