USA

The Bush administration is willing to look at possible short-term solutions to record-high gasoline prices, Kyle McSlarrow, deputy secretary of Energy, said. Meanwhile, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the administration believes oil prices should be set by market forces and does not object to OPEC's decision to forge ahead with tighter supply curbs. Prices at the pump - $1.76 a gallon for unleaded regular and climbing - have become a hot topic on the presidential campaign trail, where Democratic contender John Kerry has advocated pressuring OPEC to open its taps and pressuring the administration to store less crude in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Charles Duelfer, the new chief US weapons inspector in Iraq, told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday he is refocusing the hunt to determine what the intentions of Saddam Hussein's regime had been. Duelfer said he couldn't say how long the so far unsuccessful hunt for weapons of mass destruction might continue. Almost a year after the war, he said, many Iraqi scientists and engineers are still afraid to speak with US inspectors about anything having to do their nation's weapons program.

The cause of a fire at the nation's third largest oil refinery is yet to be determined, a spokesman for the owner of the Texas City, Texas, complex said. But it did not appear to have been started intentionally. No injuries were reported in the fire at the BP facility, which began with an explosion. An "all clear" was issued Wednesday morning. BP has maintained high security at the plant since a March 25 FBI warning of an unsubstantiated threat of terrorist attack.

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that federal agents, on a hunch, may stop cars and trucks after they have crossed the US border and disassemble their gas tanks and fuel lines, even if there is no reason to believe the vehicles carry drugs or other illegal items.

The Justice Department filed a complaint on behalf of a Muslim sixth-grader who was twice suspended from the Benjamin Franklin Science Academy in Muskogee, Okla., for wearing a religious headscarf. School officials argue that federal Department of Education guidelines state a person does not have the right to wear religious attire to a public school.

Factory orders rose 0.3 percent in February, the Commerce Department reported. But that was well below the 1.5 percent growth some economists had forecast. February also was the 43rd straight month that manufacturing jobs were cut.

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