USA

The furor over same-sex marriages, which began in San Francisco, spread to still more cities and towns. In New York, where Green Party Mayor Jason West of New Paltz faces criminal charges for officiating at 25 such weddings. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer warned that ceremonies already performed may be illegal. But town officials in Ithaca and Nyack vowed to begin officiating at same-sex weddings or accepted applications for licenses. In Oregon, scores of homosexual couples tied the knot in Portland after Multnomah County began issuing marriage licenses.

In a plea bargain, two defendants admitted in San Diego to planning to sell 5 tons of hashish and heroin to the Taliban and Al Qaeda in exchange for four shoulder-fired Stinger antiaircraft missiles. Ilyas Ali, a naturalized US citizen, and Muhamed Abid Afridi, a Pakistani, pled guilty and will be sentenced June 29, with a five-year prison term recommended. In related developments:

• The government said it will allow "dirty bomb" suspect José Padilla, in a Navy brig since 2002, to meet with his lawyers for the first time.

• The Pentagon proposed that a three-member panel annually review the case of each prisoner held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigation of the second-worst air disaster in US history was presented with two versions of the cause. American Airlines blamed the Nov. 12, 2001, crash that killed 265 people in New York on faulty control equipment. However, European-based Airbus, which made the plane that lost its tail fin in flight, said the American Airlines pilot was improperly trained and mishandled the rudder when he encountered air turbulence on takeoff.

To speed up medical research, Harvard University scientists said they'll create and make available 17 new stem-cell lines for use in studying the treatment of a variety of ailments. White House policy limits government funding to research on already-existing stem cells.

The government announced a criminal probe into the nation's first and only case of mad cow disease to determine if records of the Washington State Holstein cow slaughtered Dec. 9 were falsified.

Citing declining health, US Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R) of Colorado said he would not seek a third term this fall. His decision was seen by political analysts as a setback to GOP hopes of widening its 48-41 majority in the November election.

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