Severe storms and tornadoes killed at least 28 people in Missouri, Kansas, and Tennessee, and left behind a swath of destruction a quarter-mile wide in some areas. The casualty count was expected to rise as emergency crews searched demolished buildings in several cities and towns in the Midwest and South. Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) declared disaster areas in seven counties. Twisters generated by the vast storm system also were reported in Arkansas, South Dakota, and Nebraska, where tornado warnings briefly interrupted the annual meeting of Omaha-based Berkshire Hathaway, billionaire investor Warren Buffett's holding company.

President Bush was expected to renew pressure on Congress to approve the biggest tax cut possible during a speech in Little Rock, Ark., as the Monitor went to press. Bush traveled to ex-President Clinton's home state to meet with small-business owners and their employees. While the House has approved a $550 billion tax cut package, some GOP senators are balking at any figure above $350 billion, citing concern about the mounting federal deficit.

Jury selection got under way in Miami for the trial of alleged Colombian drug kingpin Fabio Ochoa Sanchez, amid intense security. Potential jurors were ferried to the courthouse in cars with tinted windows to shield their identities. Ochoa served a five-year sentence in Colombia for his leading role in the former Medéllin cartel, but he has denied returning to cocaine trafficking. He was extradited in September 2001 on charges of operating a ring that smuggled 30 tons of narcotics to the US per month.

A preliminary hearing opened in Oklahoma City on whether convicted bombing conspirator Terry Nichols will face new capital charges. State prosecutors want to try him on 160 counts of murder for the 1995 bombing of a federal building. Nichols received a life sentence at his federal trial five years ago. Timothy McVeigh, who was found guilty of carrying out the blast, was executed in 2001.

By a unanimous vote, the US Supreme Court ruled that telemarketers or other charity fund-raisers who deceive donors may be prosecuted for doing so. "Like other forms of public deception, fraudulent charitable solicitation is unprotected [by the constitutional right to free speech]," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote. The decision means that Illinois may proceed with a case against Telemarketing Associates Inc., for allegedly failing to disclose its 85 percent fee while raising $8 million for the veterans' aid group VietNow.

The US Senate unsealed 4,000 pages of transcripts from the McCarthy hearings Monday, a half-century after the controversial proceedings. The hearings, under Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R) of Wisconsin, were designed to root out communist sympathizers, but were widely denounced as a witch-hunt by critics. The released documents included testimony by noted composer Aaron Copland and the wife of singer-actor Paul Robeson.

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