USA

On the second day of voting on the Pentagon's proposed base closures, the federal commission assigned to review the list decided to close the Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, long a jewel among Army hospitals. The plan calls for joining the Army facility with an expanded and modernized naval medical center in nearby Bethesda, Md. The commission, which could finish voting Friday, must send its final report to President Bush by Sept. 8.

New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and the six New England states are working on a first-in-the-nation plan to force businesses to trim greenhouse gas emissions under set limits, Reuters reported. The plan is similar to one being considered by California, Washington State, and Oregon. If adopted, the measures would break with the Bush administration, which wants cuts to be voluntary and has refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol that limits global carbon dioxide emissions.

The Forest Service admitted Wednesday to making a "serious" environmental mistake when it mismarked 17 acres inside a rare tree reserve in 2002. The service permitted logging in the protected botanical area after a wildfire ravished the site near Grants Pass, Ore., where removing dead Brewer spruce trees and other rare plant species could change the ecology in the area.

The Rev. Pat Robertson, the controversial evangelical broadcaster, apologized Wednesday for suggesting earlier in the week that the US assassinate leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Cyclist Lance Armstrong, who retired from the Tour de France in July after winning the race for a record seventh straight time, fired back Wednesday after the race director insinuated that 1999 test samples showed evidence of illegal doping. The Texas racer called the the comments "preposterous" and questioned the validity of testing urine samples frozen seven years ago.

Hawaii will begin capping the wholesale price of gasoline next week, making it the first state to institute such a measure. Hawaii has the highest prices at the pump in the nation. Legislators want to force local refiners to set wholesale prices closer to those on the US mainland.

Florida's southeast coast could be in for up to 15 inches of rain Friday from tropical storm Katrina, which forecasters expect to become a hurricane and move across the state toward the Gulf of Mexico.

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