BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, police deployed around key western Baghdad installations Wednesday in their first major drill of wartime defense. Saddam Hussein ordered every Iraqi to dig a trench for protection during war.
Shuttle Disaster: Shuttle 'what-ifs' hauntingly accurate
A wing breach, overheated wheel wells and sensor failures were debated at NASA.
Pope permits lay people on abuse tribunals
Pope John Paul II approved changes in Vatican policy that will expedite dismissal of some clergy accused of sex abuse and give lay people a greater role at the church trials of alleged molesters, a Vatican official said Wednesday.
Nursing home fire kills 10
HARTFORD, Conn. -- A suspicious fire ripped through a nursing home before daybreak Wednesday, killing 10 people and forcing 100 residents -- some of them bedridden, elderly and confused -- into the freezing cold. Police said they wanted to question a resident about the blaze.
Grand jury begins; 4 bodies unknown
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- A grand jury opened an investigation Wednesday into the nightclub inferno that killed 97 people, and members of the heavy metal group whose pyrotechnics are suspected of starting the fire could testify as early as today.
Court lifts ban on protests at abortion clinics
WASHINGTON -- In a victory for abortion foes, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that federal racketeering and extortion laws were wrongly used to try to stop blockades, harassment and violent protests outside clinics.
WTC site design reportedly chosen
NEW YORK -- A cluster of sloping, angular buildings with a 1,776-foot spire that would be the tallest in the world was chosen Wednesday as the blueprint to redevelop the World Trade Center site, the Associated Press has learned.
Brothel tax could help fulfill Nevada's financial fantasies
PAHRUMP, Nev. -- The manager of one of Nevada's finest brothels proudly walks the 297 acres that surround the Resort at Sheri's Ranch, pointing to the $7-million expansion that opened last year. She glows when talking about the sports bar, the themed bungalows, the Jacuzzi rooms.
Blix delivers update, criticizes Iraq
UNITED NATIONS -- As fresh signs emerged that the United States is making headway in winning support for military action against Iraq, chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix provided the Bush administration with new ammunition Wednesday, saying Baghdad has not provided evidence of "a fundamental decision" to disarm.
Four charged with sending cash to Iraq
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Four men of Arab descent were indicted Wednesday on federal charges that they illegally sent at least $4-million to Iraq through a Syracuse-area charity.
'Virtual march' clogs phone lines, e-mail
WASHINGTON -- Antiwar protesters traded marching shoes for phones, fax machines and computers Wednesday as part of a "virtual march" on the nation's capital.
Venezuela peace talks delayed by protests
CARACAS, Venezuela -- A march by thousands of antigovernment protesters forced the suspension of talks aimed at ending Venezuela's political turmoil Wednesday, while the U.S. Embassy beefed up security because of "credible" threats.
Iran's justice system criticized
TEHRAN, Iran -- A visiting team of U.N. human rights experts Wednesday criticized Iran for a judicial system that allowed significant numbers of political prisoners to be arbitrarily detained.
World in brief: Serbian leader enters no plea in war crimes
THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- The Serbian ultranationalist leader Vojislav Seselj refused to plead Wednesday to war crimes charges stemming from ethnically motivated killings committed by troops under his command during the Balkan wars.
Obituaries of note
ROBERT K. MERTON, 92, a sociologist who coined well-known terms like "self-fulfilling prophecy" and "role models," died Sunday in New York City. He also was responsible for popularizing the concept of a "focus group," when he used interviews to elicit the responses of groups to films, texts and radio programs. He was the first sociologist to win a National Medal of Science, in 1994, and studied the anatomy of racism, the behavior of scientists and the workings of the mass media, among many other subjects, during a career that stretched over seven decades.