Translator charged with spying released from jail

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- An airman accused of spying while he worked at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba was ordered released from military jail Wednesday. The judge, Air Force Col. Barbara Brand, said Senior Airman Ahmad Al Halabi was not a flight risk and that "lesser forms of restraint are available." His civilian attorney, Donald G. Rehkopf, said he most likely will be restricted to Travis Air Force Base until his court-martial begins there. Al Halabi, 25, had been locked up since he was arrested in July, shortly before he was to leave for Syria, where he planned to marry his girlfriend. He faces 17 criminal counts including espionage, lying and misconduct.

House panel OKs bill to reform Postal Service

WASHINGTON -- A House committee on Wednesday approved what would be the first overhaul of the U.S. Postal Service in 34 years, giving it the flexibility it needs to survive in the 21st century. The legislation, 10 years in the making, is aimed at making the USPS more competitive in a new business environment where e-mail has reduced mail volume and private companies have taken away business. As reflected in the 40-0 vote, the legislation had strong bipartisan backing.

Flexible spending account fund rollover gets boost

WASHINGTON -- People who set aside salary in tax-free accounts for health bills could shift unused funds into the next year or long-term health savings accounts under legislation approved Wednesday by the House. The legislation, approved 273-152, is one of three measures that Republicans are pushing during a week of increased focus on health care and the uninsured. All three have passed the Republican-led House before, but have been blocked in the Senate, leading House Democrats to assert that the new round of votes is merely political theater.

Bush solidifies choice for AIDS office chief

WASHINGTON -- President Bush on Wednesday named his acting AIDS adviser, Carol J. Thompson, as head of the Office of National AIDS Policy. Bush's first two AIDS advisers, Scott Evertz and Joseph O'Neill, were both male doctors who were openly gay. Thompson, a woman, is not a physician and is heterosexual.The appointments of Evertz and O'Neill to the job was applauded by gay groups and AIDS activists. Evertz was the first openly gay person nominated to an executive branch office by a Republican president, but his association with gay groups and his support of condom use rankled some conservatives. Thompson has held the post on an interim basis since August. Before that, she was a White House domestic policy adviser and worked at the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

-- From wire reports

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