USA

The Bush administration asked the Supreme Court to let it keep Vice President Cheney's work on a national energy strategy private, arguing that forced disclosure intrudes on a president's ability to get honest advice. By July, the court will have the last word in a dispute that began in 2001 when a watchdog group sued over Cheney's private meetings. A federal judge ordered the White House to turn over records two years ago; if the court upholds the order, Cheney could have to reveal potentially embarrassing records just before the November election.

Terrorist threats to US nuclear weapons labs are more serious than the Energy Department has factored into its security planning, the General Accounting Office is expected to report Wednesday. Based on Energy Department recommendations, the US already is considering major steps to improve security at weapons laboratories, including consolidating stockpiles of plutonium and enriched uranium - the elements essential to a nuclear bomb - away from densely populated areas. The GAO report, based on estimates by intelligence agencies, is expected to call for more drastic changes.

White supremacist Matthew Hale was convicted Monday of soliciting the murder of US District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow of Chicago after she ordered him to rename the "church" through which he has called for "holy war" against minorities. Hale's lawyer called no witnesses during the trial, saying his client was being targeted because his "White Man's Bible" was linked to a follower's deadly shooting spree five years ago. Hale faces up to 50 years in prison; Judge Humphrey was not attacked.

Hundreds of people packed a public meeting in Houston Monday night aimed at calming the city's illegal immigrant community. In recent days, rumors that immigration agents have begun raids to capture and deport illegal migrants have emptied construction sites, cut attendance at some schools by 20 percent, and prompted a midnight exodus from an apartment complex. US Rep. Gene Green (D), who organized the meeting, said the campaign is focusing on capturing immigrants suspected of crimes or terrorist activities.

California's prison system has declared a state of emergency as its inmate population nears a historic high. In a memo obtained by The Los Angeles Times, the Department of Corrections said 1,200 unexpected inmates are streaming in from financially strapped counties whose jails can't house them. The declaration took effect April 1 but wasn't made public.

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