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News Briefs

U.S. Army Begins Its Plan For A Lower Profile In Baghdad

The New York Times -- BAGHDAD, Iraq

U.S. commanders on Monday outlined new plans for patrolling the streets of Baghdad and said their number one goal was to be less conspicuous.

The Army is closing most of its bases in central Baghdad, withdrawing to the outskirts of the city, exchanging Humvees for tanks and using fewer soldiers, said Brig. Gen. Mark Hertling, the 1st Armored Division’s deputy commander. This comes as the division prepares to hand authority for the Iraqi capital to the 1st Cavalry Division, part of a larger replenishing of occupation troops throughout the country.

“We’re going to be less intrusive,” said Col. Mike Formica, of the 1st Calvary. “We won’t have 70-ton tanks running through neighborhoods, destroying infrastructure we’re trying so hard to rebuild.”

The 1st Armored’s commander, Brig. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, announced the shift on Feb. 1, saying the troops would pull back to the edge of the city, leaving its policing largely to local forces.

Mystery Deepens Surrounding Russian Presidential Candidate

The New York Times -- MOSCOW

The mystery over the disappearance of a presidential candidate deepened Monday.

The Moscow’s prosecutor’s office announced that it had opened a murder investigation in the case of the candidate, Ivan Rybkin, only to have federal prosecutors overrule them and close the case within an hour, saying there was no evidence yet to suggest foul play in his disappearance.

Rybkin, one of five challengers to President Vladimir Putin in the election on March 14, has not been seen or heard from since Thursday night, the police and campaign advisers said. On Sunday, the police began a search for him, interviewing his wife and others who knew him and searching places he was known to frequent.

By Monday night, a spokesman for the Moscow police, Kirill Mazurin, said investigators had made no progress, despite a statement by a member of Parliament, Gennady Gudkov, that Rybkin was hiding in a spa outside Moscow. Gudkov’s remark proved unfounded, Mazurin said.

Plan To Destroy U.S. And Russian Nuclear Weapons Delayed

The New York Times -- WASHINGTON

A project to destroy the plutonium from thousands of retired Russian and U.S. nuclear weapons has been delayed, and some experts say they fear that the work may never be done.

The plan was to have both countries build factories that could mix uranium with plutonium, the material at the heart of nuclear bombs, to be burned as fuel for civilian reactors. It was conceived in the mid-1990s at a time of intense concern over the security of weapons materials in the former Soviet Union; Russia agreed to it in 2000.

The point was to ensure that weapons being disassembled by mutual agreement would never be rebuilt, and that the weapons plutonium, the hardest part of a nuclear bomb to make, could not be sold or stolen.

But the Bush administration’s budget plan for the Energy Department, released last week, said groundbreaking for a conversion factory planned for South Carolina had been delayed from July of this year until May 2005.