USA

Consumer prices climbed 0.4 percent in March, quadruple the pace in February, the Labor Department said Wednesday. Higher gasoline, clothing, and hotel lodging costs were seen as key factors. Core inflation, which excludes food and energy, rose 0.3 percent in March, while overall inflation over the first three months was up 4.3 percent.

Prosecutors said a possible third suspect in the Duke University lacrosse/rape case had not been "identified with certainty," but that investigators were still gathering evidence. Defense attorneys for team members charged with violating a stripper at a March 13 off- campus party claim their clients weren't at the scene.

Freddie Mac, the government-chartered mortgage company, agreed to pay a record $3.8 million fine to settle civil charges brought by the Federal Election Commission. The FEC said the company held lavish fundraisers and distributed cash from them to more than 50 politicians who were considered supportive.

Police safely rescued all 69 passengers trapped for hours in a pair of cable cars that lost power while suspended over New York's East River. A gondola and crane completed the rescue early Wednesday.

En route to taking some "down time" in Napa County, Calif., President Bush is to meet with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) in San Jose Thursday. Aides said they expect brief discussions about immigration issues and the state's fragile levee system.

Wildfires have already burned 2.15 million acres this spring, five times the national average, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

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