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Suspected Al Qaeda recruit Jose Padilla lost a bid Monday to have all charges against him dropped because of alleged outrageous government conduct, including torture, during his 3-1/2 years of imprisonment and interrogation in a military brig. US District Judge Marcia Cooke said that for Padilla to prevail he needed to show that the government entrapped him into becoming a jihadist soldier. The ruling clears the way for Padilla's trial next week on charges that he willingly planned to engage in violence against the US.

President Bush will invite Democrats to the White House to discuss their standoff over a war-funding bill, but he will not budge from his opposition to deadlines for withdrawing troops, the administration said Tuesday.

Three former college students who set fire to a series of rural Alabama churches last year in a rampage that began as a drunken prank were sentenced Monday in Birmingham to seven to eight years in prison. The men were also ordered to pay about $8 million in restitution and perform hundreds of hours of community service.

In announcing two new trade cases against China, US Trade Representative Susan Schwab said that the pirating of American movies, music, and books remains "unacceptably high." One of the cases filed Tuesday with the World Trade Organization claims that Beijing has been lax in its enforcement of copyright and trademark protections. The other argues that China has created illegal barriers to the sale of US-produced products in China.

Only about 6 percent of US physicians believe that a patient's spiritualilty changes medical outcomes, according to the results of a survey in this week's Archives of Internal Medicine. However, University of Chicago researcher Farr Curlin found that about 75 percent of the doctors said that spirituality helps patients cope with their conditions.

In what some educators described as a breakthrough in creating national education standards, nine states announced Tuesday that they have developed a common high school math test for Algebra II students. The alliance is considering making the scores available to colleges. States participating are Arkansas, Kentucky, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, and Rhode Island.

A California state panel effectively killed plans Monday for a floating liquefied-natural-gas terminal northwest of Los Angeles. Opponents said the terminal wouldn't meet clean-air requirements and would be a possible terrorist target.

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