Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday that former President Jimmy Carter had been explicitly warned against meeting with members of Hamas in Damascus over the weekend in order not to confuse the message that the US government will not deal with the Palestinian faction. It's officially labeled a terror group.

Former Environmental Protection Agency chief Christine Todd Whitman cannot be held liable for telling residents near the World Trade Center site that the air was safe to breathe after the 2001 terrorist attacks, a federal appeals court said Tuesday.

President Bush affirmed the benefits of the North American Free Trade Agreement during a two-day summit with Mexican President Felipe Calderón and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper that ended Tuesday in New Orleans.

Despite the upward trend in the general US population, the life expectancy for women in 180 poor counties declined 1.3 years between 1983 and 1999, according to a study released Tuesday using US Census Bureau data. Most of the counties are in the deep South and Appalachia, where diseases linked to obesity and smoking were cited as factors causing the drop-off.

California's state Senate passed legislation Monday that serves to favor trees over solar energy. If the law receives Assembly approval, it would overturn a 1978 state law that protects a person's right to sunlight, even at the expense of cutting down redwoods, which is the crux of a current neighborhood dispute in Sunnyvale, Calif.

A Metropolitan Opera audience gave Juan Diego Florez a standing ovation midperformance Monday in New York. The crowd was awed when the Peruvian tenor easily hit nine high C's in an aria from the Met's new production of Donizetti's comic gem "La Fille du Regiment" ("The Daughter of the Regiment").

Ethiopia's Dire Tune outsprinted Russia's Alevtina Biktimirova to the finish line of the Boston Marathon Monday to win by two seconds, the closest finish in history of the women's race. Kenya's Robert Cheruiyot easily won his third straight men's title and fourth overall.

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