Attorney General Ashcroft said it's almost certain that the Justice Department will appeal a federal district court ruling that declared parts of the USA Patriot Act unconstitutional. The act is a package of prosecution and surveillance tools passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. In New York Wednesday, Judge Victor Marrero struck down the provision allowing the FBI to gather phone and website customer records and then to bar the service providers from disclosing that the search took place.

The White House released a 1974 document signed a year after President Bush, then a Harvard graduate student, left the Texas Air National Guard, saying he'd decided not to continue as a member of the service. Democrats have sought to make Bush's service record and uneven documentation of certain aspects of it a hot-button issue in the presidential campaign. The White House said the document, found by the Pentagon in Bush's personnel file in connection with a lawsuit brought by the Associated Press, indicates he was resigning because of "inadequate time to fulfill possible future commitments."

About 1,400 workers employed at four major San Francisco hotels began a targeted two-week strike Wednesday to protest stalled contract negotiations. Another 2,600 union members at 10 other hotels are expected to be locked out of their jobs beginning Friday, a union leader said. Similar disputes in Los Angeles and Washington also are threatening to boil over soon.

Style icon Martha Stewart will serve her five-month prison sentence for lying in a stock-buying scandal at the Federal Correctional Institute in Alderson, W.Va., rather than in Connecticut, her home state, she said Wednesday.

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake near Arvin, Calif., 80 miles north of Los Angeles, triggered a rock slide, but caused no major damage or injuries Wednesday. Seismologists said the quake was not an aftershock from Tuesday's 6.0 quake about 150 miles to the northwest. Meanwhile, an intensifying flurry of magnitude 2.0 to 2.8 earthquakes at or near Mount St. Helens in Washington State led scientists Thursday to warn that a small or moderate eruption could occur from its crater in the next few days.

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