Evidence collected on the deaths of 24 Iraqis in Haditha supports accusations that US Marines deliberately shot civilians, including unarmed women and children, a Pentagon official said Wednesday. Investigators have completed their initial work on the Nov. 19 deaths, but may be asked to probe further. The decision on whether to press criminal charges ultimately will be made by the commander of the accused Marines' parent unit.

The Bush administration has backed away from its initial proposal that Congress pass legislation authorizing its secret military tribunals to prosecute terror suspects and is considering a plan similar to the military's court-martial process, which grants detainees more legal rights, says Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina. The White House has declined to discuss the proposal while it still is being developed.

Ten Middle Eastern and Asian immigrants sued the government Tuesday, alleging officials let their US citizenship applications linger indefinitely by delaying background checks. The lawsuit seeks class-action status to include all immigrants who have been waiting at least six months for naturalization after filing applications in Los Angeles.

The Senate passed a bill opening 8.3 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas development. Many Senate Republicans called Tuesday's 71-25 vote a breakthrough that could lower the price of oil and unlock more of the Gulf for development in the future. The House passed legislation in June that would allow drilling in a far wider area, but threats of a filibuster stopped Senate sponsors from pushing for more.

Former President Bill Clinton and the mayors of Los Angeles, Rome, Mexico City, London, and other major cities announced an initiative Tuesday to combat climate change by pooling resources to spur the development of low-emission products and to increase energy efficiency in everything from streetlights to building materials.

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