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Lightning kills Scout leader; boy brain-dead

California

FRESNO -- Lightning struck a group of Boy Scouts taking shelter from a storm, killing the troop leader and leaving a 13-year-old boy brain-dead in the latest tragedy to befall the organization this week, authorities said. Six others were injured when the lightning bolt made a direct strike on a tarp the Scouts had set up in a meadow in Sequoia National Park on Thursday. Ryan Collins, 13, was being kept on a ventilator so that his organs could be donated, the boy's grandfather said yesterday. Collins was listed in critical condition at University Medical Center in Fresno, but his family said they had given up hope. (AP)

Illinois

Third major union leaving AFL-CIO

CHICAGO -- The 1.4-million-member United Food and Commercial Workers broke away from the AFL-CIO yesterday, the third major union to leave the labor organization this week because of differences over how to address declining membership. The 1.8- million-member Service Workers International Union and the 1.4- million-member International Teamsters Union left the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations, or AFL-CIO, at the start of its convention in Chicago on Monday. The three departures mean the labor federation has lost 4.6 million of its 13 million members. (Reuters)

Washington, D.C.

Hearings on Roberts will begin Sept. 6

WASHINGTON -- Confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee John Roberts will begin the day after Labor Day, but Senate Democrats say the White House must release more documents to ensure he is wearing a justice's black robes before the new term begins in October. ''There is no reason why the date cannot be met, but we need the full cooperation of the administration," Senator Patrick Leahy, the Judiciary Committee's top Democrat, said yesterday. (AP)

Bush adviser Hughes confirmed by Senate

The Senate yesterday confirmed Karen Hughes, President Bush's longtime adviser, to head the State Department's efforts to improve the United States's image abroad. On a voice vote, the Senate unanimously approved Hughes, 48, as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. (Reuters)

Dutch citizen charged in Iraq slaying plot

The United States has charged a Dutch citizen with conspiring to kill Americans in Iraq, the first US criminal case connected to terrorist activities there, the Justice Department said yesterday. Iraqi-born Wasem al Delaema, 32, was arrested in May at his home in the Dutch city of Amersfoort. On Wednesday, US authorities filed a criminal complaint in US District Court in Washington and asked the Dutch government to extradite him. (AP)

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