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WASHINGTON: 2 justices' role questioned

A government watchdog group alleges that Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas had a conflict of interest when they considered a controversial case last year that permitted corporate funds to be used directly in political campaigns. The justices are the subject of an unusual letter delivered by Common Cause asking the Justice Department to look into whether the jurists should have disqualified themselves from the case if they had attended a private meeting sponsored by Charles and David Koch, billionaire philanthropists who fund conservative causes. A court representative said Thursday that the justices did not participate in the Koch brothers' meetings, though Thomas did "drop by."

Trials for Gitmo inmates

The Obama administration will soon increase the use of military trials for prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, an official said. And it will set up a parole-type system to review the cases of prisoners who are not expected to get such trials. The official said Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to soon lift a 2-year-old order that blocked any new cases from being started against terrorism suspects at Guantánamo.

FLORIDA: 2 cops, suspect shot dead

A shootout erupted Thursday in a crime-ridden section of Miami as law officers tried to serve a murder warrant, leaving two officers and a suspect dead, Miami-Dade Police said. Roger Castillo, a 21-year veteran, was shot once and died at the scene. Amanda Haworth, a 23-year veteran, died later in a hospital of several gunshot wounds. Officer Oscar Placencia shot and killed the suspect, Johnny Simms, 22, who had a handgun, police said.

CALIFORNIA: Woman gets to talk again

A woman whose voice could have been silenced forever because of vocal cord damage is able to talk again after undergoing a voice box transplant, only the second surgery of its kind performed in the United States. Brenda Charett Jensen, 52, reunited Thursday in Sacramento with surgeons who operated on her last fall. "It's just been amazing. And I'm still in shock," she said in a raspy voice at a news conference.

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