USA

Damage from hurricane Rita along the Gulf of Mexico coast appeared relatively minor compared with the devastation of Katrina less than a month before. Rita had weakened sufficiently to be rated a Category 3 hurricane by the time it made landfall. It spared major cities a direct hit, instead causing mostly flooding, downed trees, and loss of electricity for more than 1 million people. But only one oil refinery reported damage significant enough to cause a shutdown of up to a month for repairs.

An all-day antiwar protest on the National Mall in Washington Saturday was called by its organizers the largest since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Police did not issue an official crowd estimate, but said it probably reached 100,000 people. Similar, but smaller, protests were held in other cities. In Washington, the marathon of speeches and music was designed to send a message to the White House. But President Bush was in Texas and Colorado, monitoring hurricane recovery efforts. On Sunday, military families and other defenders of the war in Iraq were to hold a counterrally.

Amid increasing criticism of his agency, Lester Crawford quit Friday as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) two months after being confirmed by the US Senate. Bush designated Andrew von Eschenbach, director of the National Cancer Institute, as acting replacement for Crawford. Critics have complained that under Crawford the FDA was becoming more interested in politics than in protecting the interests of consumers.

Whether "intelligent design" - an alternative to evolution that acknowledges a divine being - may be part of the curriculum in public schools goes on trial Monday in perhaps the biggest battle over the teachings about man's origins in decades. With the backing of the American Civil Liberties Union, 11 parents of ninth-graders in the Dover (Pa.) Area School District are challenging administrators to show that they are not in violation of the separation of church and state by making biology classes aware of alternatives to the theory of evolution.

In a shoot out, FBI agents killed a fugitive Puerto Rican nationalist who was resisting arrest for the $7.2 million robbery of an armored truck. Filberto Ojeda Rios had been on the run since cutting off the electronic monitoring bracelet he wore while awaiting trial in 1990s for the theft in West Hartford, Conn. Most of the take is believed to have been used to fund activities by Rios's group, the Macheteros. Rios was wearing a bulletproof vest at the time of the incident Friday near Hormigueros, Puerto Rico. An FBI agent was hurt in the clash.

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