USA

For the second time in a week, US warplanes bombed a radar site in southern Iraq, a further attempt to disable the air defenses increasingly used against allied pilots patrolling "no-fly" zones. Pentagon officials said the strike was smaller than an attack by British and US planes on sites last week.

Retail sales were flat in July for the second straight month, the Commerce Department reported. Economists said layoffs and stock-market volatility caused shoppers to be more selective. Much of the lackluster performance came from a drop in gas station receipts, reflecting lower prices at the pump. Purchases at auto dealerships also fell.

Former nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee was singled out in a four-year Chinese espionage investigation because the Energy Department gave misleading information to the FBI, a newly released Justice Department report said. It criticized the FBI for accepting - without proper investigation - an assertion that Lee alone had the motivation and access to nuclear-weapons data, believed to have been leaked to China. Lee was imprisoned for nine months following allegations he transferred nuclear-weapons data to computer tapes, although he was never convicted of spying.

President Bush signed a $5.5 billion emergency farm-aid bill that will compensate for low commodities prices. The measure boosts net farm income to $47.9 billion, the highest since 1997, and is the fourth such bailout by Congress in as many years. But grain and cotton growers, who will receive most of the assistance, will get smaller checks than under last year's bailout.

California's Supreme Court unanimously ruled that school officials don't need reasonable suspicion to stop, question, or search students. But the court said officials can't exercise authority in a manner that's "arbitrary, capricious, or harassing." The ruling stems from a 1999 incident at a Los Angeles high school in which a security officer thought a student acted suspicious, searched him, and found a knife. The boy claimed the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to conduct a search.

A third businessman pleaded guilty to attempting to bribe US Rep. James Traficant (D) of Ohio, who was indicted in May on charges of accepting cash for favors. James Sabatine of Youngstown, Ohio, said he gave $2,400 to Traficant, who has denied wrongdoing.

NASA's giant propeller-driven Helios aircraft landed safely in Hawaii after setting altitude records for a nonrocket-powered vehicle. The remote-control prototype (above) reached 96,500 feet, three times higher than the normal altitude for commercial jets and just shy of its 100,000-foot goal. Helios gets electricity from 65,000 solar cells covering its wing. Designers hope it may eventually be used to fly to Mars or as a surrogate satellite.

Compiled from wire service reports by Robert Kilborn, Stephanie Cook, and Matthew MacLean

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