The US Central Intelligence Agency has flown some 1,000 secret flights over Europe since 2001, according to an investigation released by the European Parliament Wednesday. Italian lawmaker Giovanni Claudio Fava said his report reveals that America's "violation of human and fundamental rights was not isolated or an excessive measure ... but rather a widespread regular practice in which the majority of European countries were involved."

Fox News commentator Tony Snow accepted the position of White House press secretary on Wednesday, despite having called President Bush "something of an embarrassment," among other on-air jabs. Snow, who wrote speeches for the president's father more than a decade ago, will replace Scott McClellan.

In a show of support for Iraq's new government, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made surprise, separate trips to Baghdad to meet with US military brass and Iraqi leaders, including the newly selected Prime Minister Jawad al-Maliki.

Orders for big-ticket manufacturing goods in March far surpassed Wall Street's expectations, according to a Commerce Department report released Wednesday. Economists credited a 71.1 percent surge in demand for commercial aircraft for the bulk of last month's manufacturing growth. Machinery, computers, and electronic products also saw strong sales.

President Bush threatened Wednesday to veto a large Senate spending bill if lawmakers refuse to cut what he called "unrelated" add-ons. Bush wants the bill pared down to the $92.2 billion he originally requested to fund the war in Iraq and hurricane relief. The bill has swelled to $106.5 billion to accommodate funding for farm aid, highway repairs, and the Gulf Coast fishing industry.

Hamid Hayat and his lawyers were considering an appeal on Wednesday after a federal jury in California convicted the US citizen of attending an Al Qaeda training camp in Pakistan. Prosecutors said Hayat was planning to attack grocery stores, banks, and hospitals. Hayat claims he took the trip to find direction in life, search for a wife, and care for his mother. A separate trial, hearing charges against Hayat's father for lying to the FBI about his son's terrorist training, resulted in a mistrial.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was planning to seek approval at their board meeting Wednesday for a revision to developer Larry Silverstein's 99-year lease of the World Trade Center towers. The new lease would allow the Port Authority to control two of the five planned office towers, including the "Freedom Tower" centerpiece. Silverstein agreed to the deal Tuesday, after four months of stalled negotiations.

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