USA

President Bush was pressing European Union leaders to cut off support for the Palestinian militant group Hamas, and to drop opposition to American-grown, genetically modified foods at a summit in Washington, US officials said. Bush, European Commission President Romano Prodi, and Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis also were to sign agreements easing rules on extradition and sharing bank information on suspected terrorists and other criminals.

NASA space shuttles, grounded after the Columbia disaster, may fly again in six to nine months, the head of a commission investigating the Feb. 1 accident said Tuesday. Harold Gehman said the panel will present a variety of recommendations to improve safety and management in its final report next month. Other panel members said they're fairly convinced that a broken piece of foam insulation was to blame for the Columbia disaster.

House lawmakers approved $29.4 billion in funding for the Homeland Security Department Tuesday, winning praise from Bush for their quick action even though it's $1 billion more than he requested. It is the first of 13 federal spending bills for the next fiscal year. The Senate is debating its version this week.

At least a dozen teens were sexually abused by police in the past year while participating in the Law Enforcement Explorers, a program affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), according to a new research report. And there were at least 25 such incidents over the past five years, it found, citing cases in Tennessee, Texas, and California. The BSA has promised reforms of the program, in which 43,000 boys and girls took part last year. "One child, 12 children: It's always too many," said Gregg Shields, the group's national spokesman.

Rapper 50 Cent and actress Queen Latifah were among winners at the BET Awards Tuesday night in Los Angeles. Other honorees included tennis star Serena Williams and the rhythm and blues group B2K. The awards are sponsored by cable channel Black Entertainment Television for achievements in music, film, and sports. Michael Jackson made a rare public appearance to present "godfather of soul" James Brown (above) with a lifetime achievement award.

Former Georgia Gov. Lester Maddox (D), who died Wednesday in Atlanta, gained notoriety in the 1960s as a staunch segregationist for closing his Pickrick restaurant rather than serve black customers. Later, during his 1967-'71 term, he pursued what many regarded as a moderate stance on racial issues.

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