USA

Astronauts aboard the space shuttle Endeavour installed a new beam to the international space station on Saturday. Meanwhile, plans were made to use laser equipment on Sunday to conduct an inspection of a 3-inch gash in the shuttle's heat shield to determine if repairs are necessary. The gouge occurred during last week's liftoff when a piece of foam broke off the craft's external fuel tank. The area will be exposed to intense heat during re-entry.

President Bush and new French President Nikolas Sarkozy took time out from their separate vacations Saturday to have a "heart-to-heart" talk on world issues during an informal working lunch at the Bush family retreat in Kennebunkport, Me. (Sarkozy has been vacationing in New Hampshire.) "We have had good disagreements – on Iraq, in particular," Bush said. "But I've never allowed disagreements to not find other ways to work together."

Illegal immigration across the US-Mexican border appears to have dropped sharply during the past nine months, based on figures kept by US border agents. The number of illegals caught fell 38 percent (to 55,545) compared with the same period a year before. US officials say they believe that increased border security has helped stem the tide.

The 4.8-million-member Evangel-ical Lutheran Church in America said Saturday that clergy in "committed same-gender relationships" will be able to serve as pastors. Before a vote in Chicago at the church's annual assembly, gays were allowed to serve as pastors only if they abstained from sexual relations.

Conservators have begun rehanging the mammoth, circular Civil War painting housed in the old Gettysburg, Pa., cyclorama for 40 years, according to The Washington Post. It's taken four years and $1.2 million to restore the 1884 painting, which stretches 360 feet. The work, which depicts the Battle of Gettysburg, originally was displayed in a department store, then moved to the cyclorama in the 1960s. It will be the centerpiece of a new building to open in 2008.

Fifteen states have passed laws this year requiring that cigarettes be self-extinguishing in order to combat smoking-related fires, the No. 1 cause of home-fire deaths, according to a report by Stateline.org.

At a memorial service Saturday in Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker (D) said "Enough is enough!" as he and community members vowed to use the execution-style slayings of three college students on Aug. 4 as motivation to curb the city's violent crime rate. The murders, during an apparent robbery attempt, brought the total to 60 for the year. Three people have been arrested.

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