USA

By a 5-to-4 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that local governments may seize homes and businesses against their owners' will, for private development. At issue was the scope of the Fifth Amendment, which allows governments to take private property through eminent domain if the land is for "public use." The decision, which addressed a Connecticut case in which residents were trying to save their homes from an office project, provides local officials, not federal judges, more authority in approving shopping malls and other commercial development that generates tax revenue.

Gen. John Abizaid, the top US commander in the Persian Gulf, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he believes more foreign fighters are entering Iraq than was the case six months ago - an assessment at variance with Vice President Cheney's contention that the insurgency is in its "last throes." Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told the same committee that setting a timetable for withdrawal of US forces from Iraq, as some lawmakers suggest, would be a mistake.

Military officials said Wednesday that the U-2 spy plane that crashed on a mission over Afghanistan and came down in the United Arab Emirates was not shot down, The Washington Post reported.

Former Ku Klux Klansman Edgar Ray Killen was sentenced in Philadelphia, Miss., to 60 years in prison for the 1964 killing of three civil rights workers.

Evangelist Billy Graham plans to preach at three rallies this weekend in New York in what he says will be the last revival meetings in the United States of his long career. The events, scheduled for Corona Park in Flushing Meadows, return him to the city of his famous 1957 crusade, which - at 16 weeks in Madison Square Garden - remains his longest.

More than 300 firefighters battled to contain the season's first major California wildfire, which skipped past most residential properties and moved into a sparsely populated area 100 miles east of Los Angeles. In Arizona, meanwhile, lightning sparked a fire that blackened 12,500 acres, but no injuries were reported.

Southern Baptists voted to end an eight-year boycott of Walt Disney Co. theme parks and products at their annual convention. The gathering was held in Nashville, Tenn. The moratorium was passed mostly to protest Disney's decision to give benefits to companions of homosexual employees.

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