About half as many immigrants have applied for US citizenship during the first six months of this year compared with last year, according to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. The drop-off to 281,000 applicants, some observers believe, is the result of the increase in citizenship fees, from $400 to $675.

People in Texas with special medical needs were bused inland from the Gulf Coast Wednesday as officials considered a possible mandatory evacuation of a 250-mile stretch in the projected path of hurricane Ike, which is expected to hit this weekend.

Erosion has shrunk sandbars crucial to Grand Canyon wildlife to about the same size they were before a costly effort in March to build them up, canyon park officials say. The project involved releasing a torrent of water from the Glen Canyon Dam on the Arizona-Utah line to mimic natural flooding.

The Iowa attorney general's office charged a Postville meatpacking plant where 400 illegal immigrants were arrested in May with numerous child-labor violations on Tuesday.

Bicycle racer Lance Armstrong will end a three-year retirement to pursue an eighth Tour de France crown in 2009, he said Tuesday in Austin, Texas. The winner of the Tour a record seven times, Armstrong said his comeback would help raise awareness of "the global cancer burden."

Actor Morgan Freeman and Barbra Streisand will be among the stars saluted during the 31st annual Kennedy Center awards on Dec. 7, organizers announced. The others to be feted in Washington for their contributions to American arts and culture are country music singer George Jones, dancer-choreographer Twyla Tharp, and British rockers Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of The Who.

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