Nation briefs 7/6/04

Tuesday, July 6, 2004

Education union endorses Kerry for president

WASHINGTON -- The National Education Association, the nation's largest union, endorsed Democrat John Kerry for president Monday, the final touch in its campaign to drive up school spending and reshape the biggest education law in decades. The NEA, a 2.7-million member group composed mainly of teachers, is out to advance its agenda on everything from testing students to halting private-school vouchers. The union is mobilizing its money and forces for Kerry -- targeting political staff in 15 swing states, going into schools to rally its members and joining liberal groups to organize a massive night of political house parties.

Bill brings 61,000 slot machines to Pa.

BENSALEM, Pa. -- Gov. Ed Rendell signed laws on Monday authorizing 61,000 slot machines in Pennsylvania -- more than any other state except Nevada -- and using most of the state's share to pay for a $1 billion cut in property taxes a year. Revenue from the slot machines, which would be located at 14 sites, including seven horse tracks, would be used to cut property taxes by an average 20 percent.

Arizona fire threatens observatory, homes

SAFFORD, Ariz. -- Two wildfires on a mountain in the southeast corner of Arizona threatened an observatory that houses the $120 million Large Binocular Telescope, one of the world's most powerful optical instruments. One of the fires had grown to 6,215 acres by Monday morning, barely larger than it was Sunday, and it was less than a mile southeast of the $200 million-plus Mount Graham International Observatory. That lightning-started wildfire prompted evacuation of the observatory and 85 cabins on the mountain Friday.

-- From wire reports

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