USA

By a 7-to-1 vote, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission approved the controversial Pentagon proposal to phase out such Army installations as Fort Monmouth, N.J., Fort Monroe, Va., and Fort McPherson, Ga. One member of the panel abstained. In May, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld recommended that 837 installations be phased out or cut back, resulting in a net loss of more than 26,000 jobs but a projected savings of $48.8 billion. But the plan has triggered vehement opposition from governors of the states that would be affected as well as from local business interests. The plan is due to be submitted to President Bush by Sept. 8. He and Congress can accept or reject the closure list in its entirety but may not make changes to it.

Eight thousand jobs were spared at the Navy's submarine base in Groton, Conn., as the commission rejected a proposal to close it following a fierce lobbying effort by state legislators. The base, which has been in operation since 1868, also survived a closure attempt 12 years ago. Another big winner in Wednesday's voting: Maryland, which stands to inherit more than 6,000 jobs for the Aberdeen Proving Ground, at Fort Meade, and at the National Naval Medical Center from other facilities slated to close.

Tighter enforcement of security will be imposed in areas along the US-Mexican border that are experiencing high levels of illegal immigration, Homeland Security Department chief Michael Chertoff pledged Tuesday. In a letter to Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D), he spelled out measures that would allow federal officers to cooperate closely with state and local police in dealing with infiltration routes, the smuggling of aliens, and other concerns. Napolitano and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) both declared states of emergency along the border earlier this month. Arizona officials alone have arrested more 500,000 illegal immi- grants since last October.

Another record for new-home sales was set in July, the Commerce Department reported. It said buyers signed purchase agreements for a seasonally adjusted 1.41 million units, a 6.5 percent increase over the June total, which was the previous record. Sales were strongest in the West and Northeast. But the Commerce Department said factory orders for costly durable goods fell in July by 4.9 percent from the previous month. A strong demand for new cars failed to offset declines in computers, appliances, heavy machinery, and airplanes, it said.

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