USA

Amid intense security, President Bush was arriving in Belfast, Northern Ireland, for his third summit in a month with British Prime Minister Tony Blair as the Monitor went to press. A steel barricade was set up around the meeting site, Hillsborough Castle south of the city, as police responded to a series of bomb threats. Blair is expected to press Bush for a greater UN role in the reconstruction of Iraq once Saddam Hussein's regime topples. Administration officials reportedly favor limiting the UN to humanitarian work.

Virginia's ban on cross-burning was upheld by a divided US Supreme Court. In a split 5-4 decision, the justices ruled that the symbolic act, with roots in lynchings of African-Americans by the Ku Klux Klan, is not constitutionally protected free speech. Justice Clarence Thomas, the court's only black member, wrote: "Just as one cannot burn down someone's house to make a political point ... those who hate cannot terrorize and intimidate to make their point."

The University of Connecticut will face perennial rival Tennessee in the finals of the NCAA women's college basketball tournament tonight. The teams have met in two previous title matchups, in 1995 and 2000, with Connecticut winning both. Above, UConn forward Diana Taurasi gestures to the crowd following the team's 71-69 semifinal victory over Texas Sunday. The men's final between Kansas and Syracuse was to be played Monday night in New Orleans.

A vast spring storm system was moving east after leaving up to a foot of snow in Nebraska, with one fatality reported. Schools canceled or delayed classes in that state and in Iowa. In New York, which forecasters said could receive up to six inches, the Yankees postponed their first home game of the baseball season, as did the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians. To the South, severe thunderstorms and a possible tornado damaged 35 dwellings at a mobile-home park Sunday in Tatum, Texas.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained more than 160 points during morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Analysts attributed the brisk activity to investor hopes that the war in Iraq may end soon.

Reputed mafia boss Vincent Gigante pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in New York, admitting that he misled doctors evaluating his mental competency in the 1990s. Federal authorities have accused Gigante, known as "the oddfather," of feigning mental illness for decades to avoid prosecution while leading the Genovese crime family, once considered the nation's most powerful organized crime group. Gigante is midway through a 12-year sentence on other charges.

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