While publicly standing by his defense secretary, President Bush chastised Donald Rumsfeld for not informing him about the unfolding scandal involving the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners, White House aides disclosed Wednesday. Rumsfeld also was scheduled to face lawmakers Friday on Capitol Hill, some of whom have called for his resignation and have discussed a resolution to condemn the abuses. Meanwhile, the administration asked Congress for an additional $25 billion for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan while acknowledging that at least a dozen deaths of detention camp prisoners were under scrutiny by criminal investigators. The Washington Post reported receiving more potentially damaging photos of prisoner abuse.

The number of Americans filing initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 315,000 last week, the Labor Department reported, as nonfarm productivity rose at a 3.5 percent rate in the first quarter. The jobless claims were the lowest in more than three years.

As part of a broader effort to toughen US policy toward Cuba, Bush has decided to deploy military aircraft to break the communist government's practice of jamming broadcast signals of Radio Martí and TV Martí in Miami, a senior official said.

John Kerry, the presumed Democratic presidential candidate, was viewed as a moderate in FBI files kept on a Vietnam veterans group that turned radical only after Kerry left it in the early 1970s, the Associated Press said it learned. At its request, the bureau's records on the group were made public Wednesday with the release of more than 9,000 pages of a four-year investigation of Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

In a pitch to appeal to younger fans and boost revenue, Major League Baseball announced Wednesday that it will allow ads for the new motion picture

"Spider-Man 2" atop bases (but not home plate) in 15 stadiums June 11-13. Baseball will receive $3.6 million in the deal with Marvel Studios and

Columbia Pictures, which releases the film June 30.

Pablo Picasso's 1905 "Boy With Pipe" sold for a record $104 million Wednesday at Sotheby's in New York, breaking the old mark of $82.5 million for an auctioned painting. The buyer's identity was not disclosed. The work had a presale estimate of $70 million.

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