USA

A series of separate economic reports released Monday painted a bright picture, despite rising interest rates and oil prices. April saw a surge in the manufacturing sector, according to the Institute of Supply Management. The Commerce Department, meanwhile, reported record-breaking construction spending during March. Both numbers may have been buoyed by a 0.6 percent increase in consumer spending in March. The good news was tempered by the core inflation rate, which increased by 2 percent during February and March - the upper bound of the Federal Reserve's comfort level for inflation.

Sami Al Arian will spend another year and a half in prison for helping the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group. A federal judge in Tampa, Fla., sentenced the former University of South Florida professor to the maximum of 57 months in jail, but allowed for his 38 months of time served. Arian, a Kuwaiti-born Palestinian, agreed to a plea deal last month on one count of conspiracy in exchange for the federal government dropping the remaining charges.

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that former Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith can continue to pursue part of her late husband's oil wealth. Smith was contesting the decision of a Texas state probate court, which had ruled that she was entitled to nothing of J. Howard Marshall II's estimated $1.6 billion estate.

Failing to reach a last-minute budget agreement, the government of Puerto Rico shut down Monday, putting about 100,000 public employees temporarily out of work. Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila says essential services will continue while lawmakers try to resolve the impasse.

More than three years after a killing spree terrorized the Washington, D.C.-area, John Allen Muhammed saw his day in a Maryland court on Monday. Muhammed is already on death row in Virginia, where his young accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, faces life in prison. Six of the 10 people killed during the three-week sniper rampage were shot in Maryland's Montgomery County.

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