USA

"We will not stop until Iraq is free," President Bush told Marines at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Thursday, praising the sacrifices of US-led coalition forces. "By defending our own security, we are freeing the people of Iraq from one of the cruelest regimes on earth," Bush said. The president and first lady Laura Bush also met privately with families of Marines killed in the conflict. The visit came as US military officials warned of possible heavy resistance, or even Iraq's use of chemical weapons, once troops enter the capital, Baghdad.

The US military is investigating three possible "friendly fire" incidents involving downed aircraft in Iraq. Media reports said a Patriot missile may have hit a Navy fighter jet near Karbala Wednesday. A Black Hawk helicopter crashed in the same area. And the US Central Command was looking into whether a clash with ground troops had brought down an F-15E aircraft.

In a possibly unprecedented legal action, the Roman Catholic diocese of San Bernardino, Calif., sued its Boston counterpart, saying it should pay damages in a sex-abuse case. Boston church leaders recommended the Rev. Paul Shanley when he transferred to San Bernardino in 1990, the diocese said, making no mention of abuse complaints against him.

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Claims for unemployment benefits jumped to the highest level in almost a year last week, the Labor Department reported. The rise in jobless claims to 445,000 increased expectations that a separate report, due out Friday, will show the nation's unemployment rate edged up in March to 5.9 percent, from 5.8 percent in February.

Saying it could be used against antiwar protesters, opponents of antiterrorism legislation in Oregon were demanding changes. The measure was drafted by state Sen. John Minnis (R) and would impose sentences of at least 25 years for those convicted. It defines a terrorist as anyone who plans or participates in acts that disrupt business, transportation, or government.

Critics of a New Jersey town's ban on yellow-ribbon displays in support of US troops on municipal property plan a rally Saturday. Fieldsboro Mayor Edward Tyler (D) defends the ban as an effort to keep public areas free of political messages. Below, two women add to ribbons and flags decorating the town sign.

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