The Labor Department said Thursday that the number of newly laid-off workers filing for jobless benefits rose modestly last week, by a seasonally adjusted 2,000 to 318,000. The increase, however, was not viewed as threatening to the mostly healthy national employment climate. Job losses have affected scattered industries, including construction, which is in the middle of a house-building slump.

Brenda Lee, the third Los Angeles firefighter to win a discrimination suit against the city's fire department in a string of recent settlements, was awarded $6.2 million by a jury. Lee, who is black and a lesbian, received the largest payout for what she claimed was harassment by colleagues. A city councilman said new leadership of the department is expected to prevent future lawsuits.

While some of his fellow presidential candidates campaigned in Iowa during the Fourth of July holiday, Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona traveled instead to Iraq and told US troops that Americans are undivided in their admiration for them.

Bishop International Airport in Flint, Mich., was back to normal Wednesday night after security personnel checked out nine bomb threats. The FBI did not indicate whether bombs were found or any suspects arrested.

Speaking on NBC's "Today" show Thursday, former Vice President Al Gore said he's "fallen out of love with politics," never expects to run for president again, and will consider where current candidates stand on climate change before endorsing anyone. He appeared in connection with Saturday's Live Earth concerts to raise awareness of climate change.

Firefighters battling a wildfire that has burned about 66 square miles 100 miles east of Salt Lake City had the blaze about 50 percent contained by late Wednesday. Human activity is believed to have caused the fire, which has killed three people and destroyed a dozen homes. Above, some of the 700 firefighters enlisted in the containment effort head into the Wasatch Mountains.

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