U.S. to bolster forces in Afghanistan




WASHINGTON &

The Pentagon is preparing to send at least 3,000 Marines to Afghanistan in April to bolster efforts to hold off another expected Taliban offensive in the spring, military officials said Wednesday.




The move represents a shift in Pentagon thinking that has been slowly developing after months of repeated insistence that the U.S. was not inclined to fill the need for as many as 7,500 more troops that commanders have asked for there. Instead, Defense Secretary Robert Gates pressed NATO allies to contribute the extra forces.




Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said Wednesday that a proposal will go before Gates on Friday that would send a ground and air Marine contingent as well as a Marine battalion &

together totaling more than 3,000 forces &

to southern Afghanistan for a "one-time, seven-month deployment."




Gates, he said, will want to review the request, and is not likely to make a final decision on Friday.




"He will take it and consider it thoroughly before approving it," said Morrell. "I just want to get people away from the idea that this is going to be imminently approved by the secretary."




Gov. Richardson to drop out of race




New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is shelving his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination after back-to-back fourth-place finishes in the first two contests in Iowa and New Hampshire.




Richardson, 60, planned to announce his plans today, according to two people close to the governor with knowledge of the decision. They spoke late Wednesday condition of anonymity in advance of the governor's remarks.




Richardson campaign officials declined to comment on the governor's decision, reached after a meeting with his top advisers Wednesday in New Mexico. The governor was believed to have remained in New Mexico after Wednesday's meeting, but neither his campaign office nor his gubernatorial office issued a public schedule for him today.




With the New Mexico Legislature convening for its annual one-month regular session next Tuesday, there was speculation the two-term governor might announce was "suspending" his campaign for the time being &

rather than formally withdrawing from the race.




Richardson had one of the most wide-ranging resumes of any candidate ever to run for the presidency, bringing experience from his time in Congress, President Clinton's Cabinet, in the New Mexico Statehouse as well as his unique role as a freelance diplomat.




"" The Associated Press




""""As a Hispanic, he added to the unprecedented diversity in the Democratic field that also included a black man and a woman.




US Marshals delivering eviction notice find bodies of 4 young people in D.C. home




WASHINGTON &

The decomposing bodies of four young people were found Wednesday by U.S. marshals delivering an eviction notice, and a woman who answered the door was taken into custody for questioning.




Investigators were trying to determine whether the woman was related to the four victims, who had been dead at least two weeks, authorities said. Her name was not released.




"She was apparently calm throughout," U.S. Marshals Service spokesman Cole Barnhart said.




Mayor Adrian Fenty said the condition of the bodies made it difficult to identify them. "It is going to take scientific tests run by the chief medical examiner's office," he said.




Police Chief Cathy Lanier said the bodies appeared to be of females ranging in age from 5 to 18. Authorities were investigating how and when they died.