USA

President Bush welcomed Colombian leader Alvaro Uribe to his Texas ranch in what was seen as a way to bolster a key Southern Hemisphere ally and his nation as it fights terrorists and drug lords. The meeting occurred days after the State Department announced that Colombia's government and armed forces had met human rights standards required to continue receiving a full quota of US aid (more than $3 billion during the past five years). Amnesty International USA has challenged that finding.

The crew of the shuttle Discovery planned to pay tribute Thursday to the seven astronauts who died in 2003 as Columbia broke apart on reentering Earth's atmosphere. Discovery commander Eileen Collins said she is confident of a safe return of her own crew after repairs made while the shuttle is docked with the International Space Station. NASA, however, may schedule another spacewalk Saturday to repair torn insulation under one of the cockpit windows.

Citizens of Brook Park, Ohio, reacted with a mix of sorrow and anger to the deaths of 14 Marine reservists from a battalion based there from a roadside bomb attack in Iraq. It was one of the heaviest blows absorbed by a single US military unit in the war and occurred two days after five others from the battalion were killed while on sniper duty.

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Members of Congress said they've decided to investigate whether Baltimore Orioles slugger Rafael Palmeiro committed perjury in his testimony under oath in an antidoping hearing in March, when he denied using steroids. On Monday, Major League Baseball suspended Palmeiro for a positive drug test, but he says he doesn't know what caused the result.

Geologists studying the physics of earthquakes in Parkfield, Calif., said they've drilled into an active section of the San Andreas Fault for the first time. The area, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, is one of the most seismically active in the world. Instruments will be installed in the two-mile-deep borehole to measure future temblors.

For undisclosed reasons, Martha Stewart's five-month home confinement in White Plains, N.Y., following a five-month prison term for lying about a stock sale was extended three weeks.

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