USA

President Bush asked Congress to approve $74.7 billion in emergency funding for the war in Iraq, saying that while it wasn't clear how long the conflict would last, "We will prevail." The president also praised US troops during his speech at the Pentagon. "The people of our military and their families are showing great courage, and some have suffered great loss," Bush said, in reference to the 20 soldiers killed and 14 missing or captured. The funding proposal covers six months of military, humanitarian, and reconstruction operations in Iraq as well as improved homeland security.

The war in Iraq, the UN's postwar role there, and fence-mending with European states opposed to the conflict are among issues British Prime Minister Tony Blair said he'll discuss with Bush at a two-day summit starting today at the Camp David retreat in Maryland. Blair is also expected to meet with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan during the visit.

Consumer confidence fell in March for a fourth consecutive month, the Conference Board reported, citing concerns about the economy and war with Iraq. The business research group's index, closely watched as a gauge of future activity, dipped to 62.5 - half a point less than many economists had anticipated. Its release came a day after the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended a two-week rally by losing 307 points, the steepest one-day drop since September.

The US Supreme Court hears arguments today in a challenge by gay-rights advocates to a Texas law banning consensual acts between same-sex couples. The case was filed on behalf of two men arrested in 1998 for violating the state's Homosexual Conduct law, which opponents say violates privacy rights. Texas, one of 13 states with such statutes on the books, argues that it has the right to pass legislation that promotes community moral standards.

The New York Stock Exchange revoked credentials for two reporters with Al Jazeera, the Arab TV network heavily criticized by US officials for airing Iraqi footage of dead and captive US soldiers. Qatar-based Al Jazeera claimed it was being singled out for its Iraq war coverage. But a spokesman for the exchange denied that, saying it was limiting broadcast staff for "security reasons."

At least five suspected illegal immigrants died in a fire in a sugar cane field outside Raymondville, Texas, near the Mexican border. A sixth was critically injured. It's believed the group was sleeping in the field, the county sheriff said, adding that farmers had issued warnings in English and Spanish, as required.

A Michigan teenager missing for almost three weeks was found by police in California, after a delivery truck driver reported seeing Lindsey Ryan and her alleged abductor, Terry Drake. Drake, a convicted murderer, reportedly befriended the girl at a church function. "It is a horrible situation that has a happy ending," Ryan's father said.

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