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News Briefs

Seven Renominated to Be Judges On Federal Appeals Benches

President Bush on Monday formally renominated seven federal appeals court candidates who were blocked by Senate Democrats in his first term, in a move that sets the stage for a test of the strength of the expanded Republican majority.

In a batch of nominations, Bush without comment also sent back the names of five other choices for federal appeals courts whose nominations were slowed by Democratic resistance over their backgrounds and records.

With their added numbers in the Senate, Republicans are optimistic that they will be able to confirm the choices this year. “I’m hopeful that Democrats will work with me to get up or down votes on each nominee,” said Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., who is majority leader.

Frist called the candidates excellent choices. He is threatening to force a change in Senate rules should Democrats continue to block votes on the nominations.

Democrats did not appear to give much ground. “The president is at it again with the extremist judges,” said Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., who is the minority leader.

Fire Kills 59 and Injures 200 In Crowded Mosque in Tehran

Fire broke out Monday evening in a crowded mosque in central Tehran, killing 59 people and injuring more than 200, the news agency ISNA reported.

The fire was ignited by an oil heater that had been taken to the women’s section of the mosque to combat the bitingly cold weather that has gripped Iran for more than a week.

Among the dead were 20 women and 15 men. Television news showed torn clothes, jackets and shoes scattered on the street. It took nearly two hours to bring the fire under control. The five hospitals treating casualties called for blood donations.

Shiite worshippers have flocked to the mosque this week to prepare for the annual ritual commemorating the martyrdom of Hussein, the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, who was killed in 680 A.D. Shiite Muslims believe Hussein and his father were rightful successors of the prophet. His death is played out every year as crowds hold mourning ceremonies around the country.

Scientists Find Deeper Meaning For Moon Rumblings

In the category of “good research takes time,” scientists have just discovered more than 100 quakes that occurred on the moon three decades ago.

In work that seems part archaeology and part modern computer science, several groups of researchers have exhumed data from the Apollo landings and taken a closer look at them to improve their understanding of what the moon is made of and why its inside trembles.

“It’s a very exciting data set,” said Dr. Yosio Nakamura, a geophysicist at the University of Texas who was among the scientists who analyzed the seismographs in the 1970s and continues to work on them today.

The lunar landers for Apollo 11 through 16 carried seismometers, the same type of instruments that measure earthquakes on Earth, designed to be left behind and to continue to radio back data after the astronauts left.