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July 03, 2005

MONDAY

President Bush will travel to Ripley, W.Va., to mark the country's birthday with a speech at West Virginia University in Morgantown. It's the third time Bush will have celebrated July Fourth in the Mountain State in four years. Last year, Bush spoke for 25 minutes at the state capitol on Iraq, Afghanistan and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Bush's Charleston speech made international news when Secret Service agents ordered police to arrest Jeff and Nicole Rank for trespassing after the pair wore T-shirts with the message "Love America, Hate Bush." The charges were later dropped, and the couple received an apology from the city.

The Deep Impact spacecraft is set to slam an 820-pound washing machine-size projectile into a comet to reveal what's inside. The main spacecraft will release its "impactor" into the path of Comet Tempel 1 to create an expected collision Monday morning. Its mission will be short-lived, but is almost certain to be spectacular. Spacecraft instruments and ground-based telescopes will record the collision, which should blast a hole in the comet the size of a football stadium.

TUESDAY

President Bush will travel to Denmark for meetings and then goes to Scotland for the annual summit meeting of the Group of Eight industrialized nations. The meeting is expected to focus on aid to Africa and climate change. Bush said his administration has a "great record" on Africa and is ready to do more for the continent. "We'll make some more commitments," Bush told The Times of London last week, without specifying what pledges he would make. But Bush also made it clear that the United States was only willing to help governments it believed were spending money wisely. After the G-8 meeting, first lady Laura Bush will tour Africa.

WEDNESDAY

The International Olympic Committee will meet in Singapore to pick the 2012 Summer Olympics host. Committee president Jacques Rogge has said that he expects a winning margin of as few as five votes to determine the host city. Rogge said that the candidate cities of Paris, London, Madrid, Moscow and New York make up the most impressive list of prospective host cities the committee has ever had to choose from at this point in the selection process. He added that they are all very capable of hosting the games. Some insiders said Paris has a slight edge.

FRIDAY

Sandy Berger, former President Bill Clinton's top national security aide who pleaded guilty in April to taking classified documents from the National Archives and cutting them up with scissors, will be sentenced in federal court in Washington.

SATURDAY

The NAACP will hold its 96th annual convention in Milwaukee through July 15. More than 8,000 members, delegates and visitors are expected to attend. Speakers are expected to include U.S. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and incoming NAACP President and Chief Executive Officer Bruce S. Gordon.

The World

Sixteen people were confirmed killed when their U.S. Army Chinook helicopter was shot down, apparently by a rocket-propelled grenade, in the eastern mountains of Afghanistan. Army officials said they were looking for the team of soldiers deployed in those mountains awaiting support from the helicopter. The incident was one of many in Afghanistan, which is troubled by escalating violence from a re-energized Taliban.

Gunmen killed an aide to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's most influential Shiite cleric, and two bodyguards in a drive-by shooting outside a Baghdad mosque as the aide was leaving after leading prayers. Another attack killed a Shiite member of Parliament, and suicide bombers killed at least two U.S. soldiers.

The Bush administration said it would look into claims by former hostages that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president-elect of Iran, took part in the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, holding embassy personnel hostage for more than a year. A spokesman for Ahmadinejad denied the charge.

An international consortium chose France as site of the world's first fusion reactor, a $13 billion project designed to harness atomic power in a new and powerful way. Construction is expected to take at least 10 years, though critics say that many technological problems might never be solved.

The Nation

Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman on the Supreme Court and considered a swing vote on many contentious issues, announced her retirement. "It has been a great privilege indeed to have served as a member of the court for 24 terms," the 75-year-old justice wrote President Bush in a one-paragraph resignation letter.

Bank of America Corp. annouced that it will acquire credit card giant MBNA Corp. in a $35 billion cash and stock deal that will result in 6,000 job cuts.

The Army's top general told Congress that the Army is at "serious risk" of not making its recruiting goals for the year. The Army is about 7,800 recruits short now, with three months left in the recruiting year. The last time the service failed to meet its recruiting number was in 1999.

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