News In Brief

The White House has stepped back to reassess its strategy in pushing for opening government programs to religious groups. The issue heated up when an internal report by the Salvation Army suggested the administration had cut a deal with the charity in exchange for its lobbying support. The report said the administration would back a regulation to allow charities like the Salvation Army to receive federal funds, even if they won't hire gays and lesbians. Accepting taxpayer monies, some argue, would require compliance with local antidiscrimination laws.

Police gathered evidence during an early morning search of California Rep. Gary Condit's Washington apartment, an action the Democratic congressman consented to as the investigation into the disappearance of Washington intern Chandra Levy, with whom Condit had an affair, continues. Levy has been missing 11 weeks and her parents have urged that Condit, though not officially a suspect, take a lie-detector test, which the police say they want to conduct.

More than 60 Cubans arrived on Florida's shore near Miami Beach and Key Biscayne. According to the Border Patrol, the Cubans reportedly paid $450 to $500 apiece to smugglers, who ferried them from Cuba's northern coast. By law, Cubans who reach the US may apply for American residency.

The US Postal Service announced it will not drop Saturday deliveries, as contemplated. The move was considered in addressing its projected annual losses this year of $1.6 billion to $2.4 billion.

Washington Gov. Gary Locke has asked the US Department of Agriculture to declare 19 eastern counties as federal disaster areas. Drought conditions and a hail storm could cut wheat, barley, and hay production by 30 to 50 percent.

Four firefighters were killed while battling a wildfire in Washington's North Cascades, where a blaze of less than 10 acres grew to 2,500 acres in a matter of hours. Last year, 7.5 million acres were scorched during the worst wildfire season in 50 years. Similar dry conditions exist this summer.

The military brass said it supported President Bush's call for closing excess bases. Previous closures have saved the military $4 billion to $5 billion annually.

Cal Ripken, who will retire after this season, stole the show at major-league baseball's 72nd annual All-Star Game in Seattle, where he was named the Most Valuable Player in sparking the American League's 4-to-1 victory. Playing in his 18th and last All-Star Game, the Baltimore infielder belted a home run on the first pitch in the bottom of the third inning to start the scoring. Later, the game was stopped to present Ripken and San Diego's Tony Gwynn with historic achievement awards.

In a move aimed at regaining momentum on health-care reform, President Bush proposed issuing discount pharmacy cards to older Americans by the end of next year.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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