Senate majority leader Tom Daschle attacked President Bush's foreign policy in a speech yesterday, accusing Bush of abdicating American leadership by walking away from agreements embraced by US allies. He cited the Kyoto global-warming pact, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

Illinois Gov. George Ryan has decided not to run for reelection, setting off a scramble among potential candidates for the seat he will vacate next year. Ryan said he wanted to govern free of campaign stress; he never mentioned the driver's license scandal that drove his approval ratings down. Attorney General Jim Ryan announced his candidacy yesterday.

After a three-week decline, new unemployment claims rose last week, the Labor Department reported, suggesting some workers are having trouble holding onto their jobs. A retail report also issued yesterday showed mixed results for the nation's biggest merchants, though discounting and tax-rebate spending helped retail sales in July.

The Justice Department should begin a federal probe into claims that the 2000 elections were unfair and violated civil rights, said a report issued yesterday by a nonpartisan task force sponsored by the Election Center. The report focused on findings by the US Commission on Civil Rights that black voters' ballots were disproportionately tossed out.

In an effort to curb racial profiling, a new policy will require New Jersey state troopers to ask their supervisors to come to the scene before they ask drivers for permission to search their vehicles. The policy will take effect within a month, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. "Consent searches" have been central to the New Jersey's racial-profiling debate, since studies found that not only are minority motorists pulled over disproportionately, but their cars are searched more often.

The Army Corps of Engineers wants to ease rules for wetland developing, prompting an outcry from environmentalists, who say the plan would let developers destroy important ecosystems without public notice. The plan would give the agency more discretion to grant developers expedited permits by relaxing several year-old rules.

The number of beach closings and advisories nationwide nearly doubled last year to at least 11,270, according to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council. The environmental group, which has conducted beach surveys for the past 11 years, said the numbers rose largely because many states are monitoring beaches more closely and because rain sent more polluted runoff in some coastal areas. Above, lifeguard Pat Carney of Medford, Mass., displays warning flags.

An investigation will examine whether the FBI harassed three agents who criticized the agency's actions in the 1992 Ruby Ridge standoff, the Justice Department announced. The probe will look into whether one agent's career was derailed and another was threatened after they cited flaws in the Idaho siege in which two civilians and a federal marshal were killed.

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