Clinton ready to pack it in?

WASHINGTON - Barack Obama crept close to victory in the marathon Democratic presidential race yesterday on the eve of the final primaries amid signs that Hillary Clinton was preparing to acknowledge defeat once he gained the final delegates needed.

Said a confident-sounding Obama: "I told her that once the dust settled I'm looking forward to meeting with her at a time and place of her choosing." He was disclosing the contents of a conversation the two rivals had on Sunday night but did not describe her response.

The former first lady has given no hint of quitting the race, and she has said repeatedly she may continue her candidacy even beyond the end of the primaries.

But her husband, former President Clinton, strongly suggested otherwise. "This may be the last day I'm ever involved in a campaign of this kind," he said as he worked for his wife in South Dakota. Today, that state and Montana hold the final primaries of the campaign.

FEMA may use trailers again

WASHINGTON - The government may house disaster victims in trailers this hurricane season as a last resort, despite promises never to use them again because of high levels of formaldehyde found in trailers used after the Katrina catastrophe.

Only the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency could approve the use of such trailers, and they would have to meet the agency's standard for low formaldehyde levels, according to a draft of the agency's five-page 2008 hurricane-season plan, obtained by the Associated Press. Also, disaster victims could stay in the trailers for only six months.

Hurricane season started June 1 and will last through November.

Forecasters predict the 2008 Atlantic season will be busier than average, with a good chance of six to nine hurricanes forming, including two to five major ones.

GI records breached

WASHINGTON - Sensitive information on about 1,000 patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and other military hospitals was exposed in a security breach, sparking identity-theft concerns and an investigation by the Army.

Names, Social Security numbers, birth dates and other information were released, hospital officials said yesterday. The computer file that was breached did not include information such as medical records, or the diagnosis or prognosis for patients, they said.

Shuttle brings welcome relief

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - Space shuttle Discovery performed a slow backflip and then docked at the International Space Station yesterday.

Commander Mark Kelly pulled up to the space station and parked as the two spacecraft soared 210 miles above the South Pacific.

Discovery carried Japan's prized Kibo lab, a 37-foot-long, 16-ton scientific workshop. The seven shuttle astronauts and three station residents were to combine forces to install the bus-size lab today.

The shuttle crew also brought a spare toilet pump for the orbiting outpost. The space station's Russian-built toilet broke nearly two weeks ago - forcing the crew to perform manual flushes with extra water several times a day - and engineers hope the new pump will take care of the problem.

Mexico mayor slain

MEXICO CITY - The mayor of a small town in western Mexico was forced from his car and shot dead, officials said yesterday.

Marcelo Ibarra was traveling with his wife and two children late Sunday when the men stopped their car, forced Ibarra to get out and shot him in the head, said Magdalena Guzman, the spokeswoman for the Michoacan state Attorney General's Office.

Ibarra died on the way to the hospital, but his wife and children were unharmed.

Officials believe that the killing was an attempted robbery, although they haven't ruled out other motives.

Limits on feds' tactic

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that federal prosecutors have gone too far in their use of money-laundering charges to combat drug traffickers and organized crime.

In two decisions - one a 5-4 split, the other unanimous - the justices found that money-laundering charges apply only to profits of an illegal gambling ring and cannot be used when the only evidence of a possible crime is when someone hides large amounts of cash in his car when heading for the border.

The government brings money-laundering cases against more than 1,300 people annually and the justices appeared to agree with defense lawyers who said government prosecutors have been stretching the bounds of the law. *

-Associated Press