USA

In its most anticipated day in recent memory, the Supreme Court handed down rulings in several cases before adjourning for the summer. But two justices considered as possibilities to announce their retirements had yet to do so as the Monitor went to press. In the rulings:

• By a 5-to-4 vote, the justices struck down displays of the Ten Commandments in courthouses, saying - in a Kentucky case - that they went too far in endorsing religion. But they did not prohibit all such displays, ruling that those honoring the nation's legal history would be permissible if portrayed "neutrally."

• The court rejected appeals by two journalists who've refused to testify before a grand jury on the matter of leaking CIA official Valerie Plame's identity. The decision means that Matthew Cooper of Time magazine and Judith Miller of The New York Times may be sentenced to 18 months in jail each for their unwillingness to reveal their confidential sources.

• The justices said Internet file-sharing services can be sued if they intend their software to be used by subscribers to swap movies and songs illegally. The decision was unanimous.

• In a 6-to-3 ruling, cable companies were cleared to keep rival Internet providers from using their lines.

Chief justice Rehnquist was keeping court-watchers guessing about his possible retirement due to age and ill-health. But analysts said he may yet announce it via a news release or in a letter to Bush that the White House would make public. Sandra Day O'Connor also did not say whether she is leaving the bench.

The Bush administration has drafted a new plan aimed at curbing the spread of nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction, The Washington Post reported. Citing an internal administration memo, it said the strategy calls for "blocking or freezing" the assets of anyone doing business with North Korean, Iranian, and Syrian companies suspected of working on weapons programs. Its success would rely heavily on US intelligence, the Post said.

Onetime church elder Dennis Rader told a court in Wichita, Kan., he is guilty of murdering 10 people in the area between 1974 and 1981. The so-called BTK (bind, torture, kill) suspect, who taunted police for years with cryptic messages before being caught last February, will be sentenced at a later date. He cannot be executed because the murders occurred before Kansas adopted its capital punishment law.

Dozens of fire crewmen were sent home from the scene of blazes in the California desert because of gentler-than- expected winds that slowed their spread. The cluster of fires, which began last week when lightning ignited dry brush, was 65 percent contained and was expected to be totally under control by Monday night.

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