USA

US Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, John Kerry's new running mate, is scheduled to fly to Ohio Wednesday with the presumed Democratic presidential nominee for their first joint campaign appearance. Kerry, who kept his choice secret until Tuesday, announced in Pittsburgh that Edwards, a populist and former trial lawyer, would join him on the Democratic ticket. Edwards did not attend the rally, at which Kerry called him a man "who understands and defends the values of America" and champions the middle class. The New York Post, in a Page One banner headline, said it had learned that Kerry's choice would be US Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri.

Using information gathered by its Threat Task Force, the FBI will expand efforts in the weeks ahead to conduct interviews in communities aimed at finding Al Qaeda operatives before they strike, an unnamed official said. At this time, The Washington Post reported Tuesday, US government officials say they have no specific information about the time or place of any attacks.

Firefighters widened a defensive ring around the Mount Graham International Observatory in southeastern Arizona, where a lightning-sparked blaze grew to 8,500 acres Monday. A sprinkler system will be turned on if the fire reaches within a quarter mile of the $200 million complex, but a fire official said that smoke and heat still could damage the observatory's instruments. The US Forest Service has sent tanker planes to fight the fire near Safford, Ariz. Meanwhile, efforts continued to control wildfires north of Fairbanks, Alaska, and near Lake Chelan in central Washington State.

A Lebanese-born US Marine translator missing in Iraq since June 20 is being held at an undisclosed location by a group calling itself "Islamic Response," according to a statement sent to Al-Jazeera, the Arabic-language news network. The report contradicted an earlier one that indicated Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun had been executed and provided new hope for Hassoun's family in West Jordan, Utah.

The number of commercial flights that are 15 or more minutes late to their destinations, has jumped 34 percent since last year, according to The New York Times, citing data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Besides weather, increased passenger traffic and a shift toward smaller planes account for the delays, aviation officials said.

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