U.S. seeks to drop

surveillance case

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration sought yesterday to drop its appeal of a federal court ruling that concluded that the government's domestic spying program was unconstitutional, saying the issue was moot since the surveillance was now monitored by a secret court.

Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union said they would keep pushing for their day in court because President Bush retained authority to continue warrantless spying.

The Justice Department's request had been expected since last week, when Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales disclosed that the secret panel of judges who oversee the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act had begun reviewing and approving applications to spy on people believed to be linked to al-Qaeda. - AP

Congratulations!

Oh, never mind

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - An admissions department e-mail sent from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill congratulated 2,700 prospective freshmen this week on their acceptance - except none had yet been admitted. Students won't start finding out until March whether they have made the cut.

Stephen Farmer, director of undergraduate admissions, said two employees accidentally sent the e-mail Tuesday. It began, "Congratulations again on your admission to the University." The e-mail was intended to request midyear grades from high school students who had already been accepted to the school under an earlier application deadline.

Officials sent a follow-up e-mail apologizing for the error, and e-mailed admissions counselors around the nation to explain the mistake. - AP

Calif. lawmaker

enters GOP race

WASHINGTON - California Rep. Duncan Hunter yesterday entered the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

Hunter, 58, a House member since 1981 who calls himself "the most conservative candidate" in the race, made the announcement in Spartanburg, S.C., after having set up an exploratory committee Jan. 12. At least six other Republicans have announced or indicated that they planned to run for the White House.

Hunter introduced legislation Monday stating that life begins at conception. He led the Armed Services Committee until the Democrats took over the House in January. - AP

Elsewhere:

NASA has pushed up by a day, to March 15, its first shuttle launch attempt of the year, by Atlantis and a crew of six. The astronauts will deliver another solar array and truss segment to the space station.

California regulators yesterday enacted the nation's first statewide ban on the most common chemical used by dry cleaners. By 2023, no dry-cleaning machines that use perchloroethylene, a potential carcinogen, will be permitted in the state.

The family of a woman who died after drinking nearly two gallons of water in a Sacramento, Calif., radio station's on-air contest filed a wrongful-death lawsuit yesterday against KDND-FM and dozens of employees.