President Bush marked Independence Day at a parade in Ripley, W.Va., underscoring his administration's call for Americans to enjoy the holiday despite tight security to deter possible terrorist attacks. Bush announced he'd signed an executive order to allow noncitizens in the military to apply immediately for naturalization – instead of the usual three-year wait. The order affects about 15,000 enlisted personnel. The president was scheduled to return to Washington in time for the traditional fireworks display.

Security measures including fighter-jet patrols above some cities didn't appear to put a damper on Fourth of July enthusiasm, with millions of Americans expected to attend parades and other festivities nationwide.

A stepson of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was detained on immigration charges in Miami, after enrolling for flight training at a school that one of the Sept. 11 hijackers reportedly attended. An FBI spokeswoman said although no evidence linked Mohammad Saffi to terrorist groups, he had failed to obtain a student visa. Saffi, a citizen of New Zealand who works in the airline industry, was expected to be deported.

Cynthia Cooper, the internal auditor who uncovered $3.8 billion in hidden expenses at WorldCom, and the troubled company's new president, John Sidgmore, are among those slated to testify Monday before the House Financial Services Committee. Cooper also has agreed to assist the Justice Department in its investigation of WorldCom, which has been charged with fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The UN peacekeeping mission in Bosnia will continue at least through July 15, under a second temporary extension approved by the Security Council as the US and its fellow members try to end a dispute. The US demands immunity from prosecution by the new international war-crimes tribunal for Americans serving in UN missions. In a letter to Secretary of State Powell, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan noted that no UN peacekeeper has been accused of war crimes and said the US position put "the whole system of UN peacekeeping operations" at risk.

All 42,000 state employees in Tennessee are to return to work today, after half their number were furloughed Monday due to a budget stalemate. The legislature OKd a compromise version late Wednesday and Gov. Don Sundquist (R) said he would sign it. The measure gives Tennessee one of the highest sales-tax rates in the country – above 9 percent in most counties.

For a third time, a Texas jury returned a death sentence for convicted murderer Johnny Paul Penry after dismissing defense arguments that he's mentally retarded. Two previous sentences were overturned by the US Supreme Court for that reason. Penry's lawyers said they would appeal.

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