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News Briefs

Protesters Take to Streets In 500 U.S. Cities

THE WASHINGTON POST -- SAN FRANCISCO

The day after war began, anti-war protesters here and across the country took their anger and dismay to the streets, from rallying and marching to blocking intersections, paralyzing traffic and getting arrested.

Peace vigils and rallies took place in approximately 500 cities nationwide and in hundreds of cities worldwide. There were marches and demonstrations from Palm Springs, Calif., to Palm Beach, Fla., from Iceland to Indonesia. Thousands of protesters in scores of cities throughout this nation also made good on their promise to engage in mass civil disobedience and disrupt business as usual the morning after President Bush ordered the attack on Iraq to begin.

In Philadelphia, 100 protesters were arrested Thursday after blocking the entrances to the downtown federal building. In New York, more than 300 protesters converged on Times Square at the Thursday afternoon rush hour, blocking traffic.

Everywhere, dissenters made their presence known. In Cambridge, Mass., students and faculty members at MIT, Harvard, and other area schools walked out to protest the start of war, as they did in universities and high schools in dozens of cities. About 200 students at the University of California at Berkeley staged a sit-in Thursday afternoon after a protest of more than 1,500 and teachers.

Researchers Make Progress On Mysterious Virus

THE WASHINGTON POST

The World Health Organization Thursday said researchers were close to identifying the cause of a new, mysterious and sometimes fatal respiratory disease that surfaced in Asia.

“WHO is increasingly optimistic that conclusive identification of the causative agent can be announced soon,” the Geneva-based United Nations agency said in an update. “Highly specialized testing of specimens from patients ... continues at top speed in top labs.”

The leading suspect is a microbe in a family of viruses known as paramyxoviruses. Several labs have found evidence of a paramyxovirus in samples from patients stricken by the disease, known as severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS.

Paramyxoviruses are a large family of viruses that includes those that cause measles and mumps, as well as the Nipah and Hendra viruses, animal-borne viruses that can cause dangerous respiratory illnesses.

GOP Ahead of Democrats In Fundraising with New Rules

THE WASHINGTON POST -- WASHINGTON

The major Republican Party campaign committees have surged ahead of their Democratic counterparts, raising four times as much money in a clear sign that the GOP is thriving under the new campaign finance law known as McCain-Feingold.

In January and February, the Republican national, senatorial and House campaign committees raised a combined $38.5 million, according to disclosure reports. The Democratic committees raised $9 million.

“This is a big advantage,” said Michael Malbin, head of the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute. “The question now is whether the (Democrats) will have the time (to narrow the gap) now that the public’s attention is not focused on politics, but on the war.”

In recent years, the national party committees have played important roles in presidential and congressional elections. They help recruit candidates, poll voters, conduct opposition research, run ads and provide staff.