USA

The Senate unanimously approved the $447 billion defense spending bill Thursday, while the House OK'd record funding for intelligence agencies. Sources said the intelligence spending will be about $40 billion, exceeding previous funds by hundreds of millions of dollars. The Senate's defense bill is 5.7 percent larger than the 2004 budget and includes $25 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Supreme Court refused to order the Bush administration to make public the details of Vice President Cheney's energy task force. But by a 7-to-2 vote, the justices kept the case alive, sending it back to a lower court to decide whether federal open- government laws can be used to pry documents loose from the task force. The high court's consideration of the issue had been overshadowed by conflict-of-interest questions about Justice Antonin Scalia's friendship with Cheney.

By a 5-to-4 vote, the Supreme Court also refused to overturn the death sentences of more than 100 prison inmates who claimed that judges - rather than juries - had improperly determined their fates. Legal analysts said the ruling spares at least four states - Arizona, Idaho, Montana, and Nebraska - from having to decide whether to hold new sentencing hearings for the convicts.

President Bush appealed to NATO to help quell violence in Iraq that has escalated as the transfer of sovereignty to Iraqis nears. Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi wrote to allied governments asking for training and technical assistance. Bush is expected to discuss that request with allied leaders at the US-European Union summit in Ireland this weekend and the NATO summit next week in Istanbul, Turkey.

Orders for so-called big-ticket goods from US factories fell for the second straight month in May, the Commerce Department reported. Orders for durable goods (those expected to last at least three years) dropped by 1.6 percent, disappointing economists who'd predicted a 1.5 percent rebound.

Backing Bush, Senate Republicans defeated a bid late Wednesday to force the administration to release documents on the treatment of enemy combatants. Justice Department lawyers will spend several weeks revising several key 2002 documents, especially a 50-page memo to the White House on Aug. 1, 2002, that critics have characterized as setting the tone for the mistreatment of detainees in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

A gunman fired into a crowd gathered for Detroit's annual fireworks display Wednesday night, wounding nine people and scattering hundreds of others. Police Chief Ella Bully- Cummings said the incident apparently followed an argument and that innocent people were caught in the crossfire. Police recovered a handgun from the scene and questioned several people, but made no arrests.

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