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Confessed Al Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui took the witness stand in his death-penalty trial Thursday in Alexandria, Va., and immediately verbally attacked his defense team. He accused them of putting their interests in the case above his own. It was the first day of defense testimony and followed the playing Wednesday of a previously withheld 9/11 cockpit recording of United Airlines Flight 93. The tape captured the cockpit struggle between passengers and hijackers for control of the plane, which crashed in Pennsylvania.

The Environmental Protection Agency's annual toxics report card produced mixed results. Overall, chemical pollution released into the environment fell 4 percent in 2004, the latest year for which figures are available, according to the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory. Toxics released into US waterways, however, rose 10 percent. Industries making the most progress were metal mining, electric utility, and hazardous waste.

After years of trying, Alabama passed a law that will lift the burden on poor tax-paying families. The bill, signed into law Wednesday, raises the threshold at which a family of four must pay income taxes from $4,600 a year to $12,500. Alabama has been the lone state levying income taxes on families making less than $10,000.

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The Rev. William Sloane Coffin, who died Wednesday in Strafford, Vt., was best known as Yale University's peace-activist chaplain during the turbulent 1960s. He was an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War and was arrested several times at demonstrations against segregation.

Storms that dumped 6 inches of rain in the San Francisco Bay area during a 24-hour period and caused flooding and mudslides were expected to move down the coast and reach Southern California Friday. A second storm could arrive Sunday, according to the National Weather Service, which said the wet-weather pattern is expected to end thereafter.

Foreign consortium Cintra-Macquaire signed a $3.8 billion, 75-year deal to lease the Indiana Toll Road for 75 years. Under the terms of the largest such highway privatization in US history, the Spanish-Australian company will be able to keep toll revenues in exchange for operating and maintaining the road.The firm signed a similar deal with Chicago last year.

Retail sales rebounded in March, rising 0.6 percent, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

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