USA

While the Bush administration was crafting its energy policy, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham had at least eight meetings with industry executives and lobbyists, newly released documents show. He did not consult with environmentalists. Some 11,000 pages were made public by the Energy Department and the Environmental Protection Agency Monday under a federal court order. Critics of the energy task force headed by Vice President Cheney (l.) allege that energy companies, among them the bankrupt Enron, had disproportionate influence on it. Abraham said in a statement that his agency "not only sought, but included, all viewpoints."

Public-housing officials may evict tenants for the illegal drug activity of members of their households or guests, even if the tenants don't know about it, the Supreme Court ruled. The unanimous decision upheld a "one strike and you're out" Department of Housing and Urban Development policy. Several elderly public-housing residents in California had challenged evictions resulting from drug use by younger relatives and, in one case, by a caregiver. (Story, page 2.)

In another positive sign for the economy, durable-goods orders rose 1.5 percent to $1.74 billion in February, the Commerce Department reported. The third straight monthly increase for durables – costly, manufactured items meant to last three or more years – was 0.5 percent higher than economists had anticipated, and was due chiefly to a surge in demand for aircraft, transportation equipment, and household appliances.

Nuclear power plant operators have been ordered to check reactor vessels after severe corrosion was discovered at an Ohio facility, The New York Times reported. The directive from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission affects 68 such plants with pressurized-water reactors. Acid in cooling water ate through 5-1/2 inches of a 6-inch stainless steel lid at the Davis-Besse plant near Toledo, Ohio, posing the risk of core damage or a possible a meltdown, the newspaper said.

Afghanistan was the most dangerous place to be a reporter last year, with eight killed covering the war there according to an annual report by the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based group. Worldwide, 37 journalists were killed in 2001, up from 24 the previous year. Among the casualties were a New York photographer who died in the Sept. 11 attacks and a Florida photo editor exposed to anthrax-laced mail. In addition, the report said the number of imprisoned journalists rose to 118 last year from 81 in 2000. China has the most detentions, with 35. The US has one.

Boston's Roman Catholic Archbishop, Bernard Law, defended his predecessor, calling allegations that the late Cardinal Humberto Medeiros fondled a teenager more than two decades ago "unsubstantiated" and implausible. A lawyer for Garry Garland, who is suing for alleged sexual abuse by another priest, said Sunday that his client would amend the lawsuit to include the claim against Medeiros.

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