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The White House scored a major victory Wednesday when, in a closely divided Senate vote, drilling for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was approved - an outcome that environmentalists had long sought to prevent. Access to the possible billions of barrels of crude oil there is a key part of President Bush's energy agenda. The vote put a drilling provision into next year's budget, depriving opponents from using a filibuster to try to block it. The House has not put such a provision in its budget, a difference that must be worked out in future negotiations.

Convicted murderer Scott Peterson was sentenced to be executed and then was transferred under heavy security from California's San Mateo County jail to San Quentin Prison. The prison overlooks the bay where the body of Peterson's pregnant wife, Laci, and their unborn son were found. He becomes the 644th person awaiting lethal injection in the state, where it often takes many years to carry out executions.

Jurors deliberated nine days before acquitting actor Robert Blake Wednesday in Los Angeles of killing his wife. Blake, whose career has included playing a detective in the 1970s TV series "Baretta," was charged with shooting Bonny Lee Bakley in their car in 2001.

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The case of Terri Schiavo, the Florida woman whose parents dispute her husband's contention that she is in a persistent vegetative state, took a new twist Wednesday when the US House approved legislation that would give federal courts a role in deciding her future. The action came after a Florida appeals court refused to intervene to extend her life. Whether the House and Senate, which has taken up similar legislation, can reconcile their differences before a feeding tube is removed from Schiavo Friday was unclear.

Disclosure that a scientist working on plans to bury the nation's nuclear waste under Nevada's Yucca Mountain may have falsified documents could further delay the controversial project, an Energy Department official told Congress Wednesday.

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