News In Brief

US military forces in the Persian Gulf were on the highest state of alert because of a State Department warning that American citizens overseas may be the target of an "imminent" terrorist threat. The threat, picked up by US intelligence agencies was not specific to an intended target, but reportedly concerned extremist groups linked to Saudi dissident and suspected terrorism-financier Osama bin Laden. In Afghanistan, where bin Laden is believed to be living, Taliban leaders rejected the US concerns, saying all of his activities are under their control.

Hundreds of AIDS activists marched in the pouring rain in New York Saturday, calling for increased support for victims worldwide. The protest and rally was timed to coincide with the UN General Assembly's first special session on the disease. Representatives of dozens of nations begin meeting today to adopt new targets for a global campaign to halt and start reversing the epidemic.

President Bush said he wants to outlaw discrimination based on genetic testing. Many members of Congress also support criminalizing such discrimination, by which prospective employers or insurers could use knowledge of a person's risk of contracting a disease to reject applicants. But Bush parts company with Democrats over whether to give those harmed by such discrimination the right to sue for damages.

The first California condor born in the wild in 17 years hatched days after biologists rushed its egg, which had been laid in captivity, to the Los Padres National Forest. California condors, among the largest and rarest birds in North America, have been making a comeback in recent years through an extensive captive-breeding program. Eventually, scientists hope wild condors will be able to successfully raise offspring without human intervention.

The Bush administration is expected to ask Congress this week to boost next year's military budget by an additional $18.4 billion, following a review of Pentagon spending needs by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The figure, provided by senior administration and Pentagon officials, would bring the total 2002 defense request to $343.5 billion -10.3 percent more than the amount provided so far for this year.

Some 300 city leaders have gathered in Detroit for the US Conference of Mayors. Cooperation between federal government and local leaders is a major issue for discussion, with House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D) calling for an "active and constructive partnership" to rejuvenate cities. Bush is scheduled to speak today about his plan to give federal funds to faith-based charities.

The ocean off the coast of central California is off limits to oil and gas drilling until the federal government studies potential environmental impacts and the state OKs the plan, a federal court in San Francisco ruled. The decision was a blow to oil companies watching import prices approach all-time highs. Environmentalists lauded the ruling, which affects some of the state's most scenic coastline.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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