While denying it signified a rift with Saudi Arabia, the US announced the removal of almost all troops and military operations in the longtime Persian Gulf ally, which refused to allow airstrikes from its soil during the war against Iraq. The presence of American troops in the nation that is home to Islam's holiest sites irritates many Muslims and has been a rallying point for terrorist groups. The announcement came as Defense Secretary Rumsfeld was in Saudi Arabia on a regional tour. He praised the Riyadh government for being "enormously hospitable" and said the Bush administration wanted a "continuing and healthy relationship with the Saudis."

In a 5-to-4 ruling, the US Supreme Court upheld a federal law under which legal immigrants convicted of certain crimes can be jailed while authorities attempt to deport them. Civil liberties groups challenged the 1996 law as a violation of due-process rights and warned it could have implications in the counterterrorism war. The case involved a South Korean immigrant convicted of burglary and theft who was detained by immigration officials after serving his sentence.

A Fairfax County, Va., court was hearing a second day of testimony on sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo, as defense lawyers sought to have the teen's confession to police barred from use at his trial. At Monday's hearing, a police detective said Malvo initially asked to see attorneys, but later spoke freely - even jokingly - of the shootings that killed 10 people and wounded three others in the Washington area. Malvo and codefendant John Muhammad could face the death penalty if convicted.

Consumer confidence rose sharply in April according to the Conference Board, the New York-based business research group. Its closely watched index jumped to 81 this month - far higher than analysts anticipated - from a 61.4 reading in March. In a separate economic report, the Labor Department said wages and benefits rose 1.3 percent over the first three months of this year, the biggest increase since 1990.

A rare earthquake rattled residents across seven Southern states at dawn Tuesday, cracking some building foundations and knocking pictures off walls. The tremor had a preliminary magnitude of 4.9 and was centered near Fort Payne, Ala., the US Geological Survey said.

A fast-moving marsh fire swept across 400 acres of a state nature preserve in Mentor, Ohio, Monday, sending plumes of thick smoke hundreds of feet into the air. Firefighters were able to keep the blaze away from nearby homes, and no injuries were reported.

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