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AROUND THE NATION

MILITARY TO BE WARNED AGAINST BACKING SCOUTS

CHICAGO (AP) -- The Pentagon has agreed to warn military bases worldwide that they should not directly sponsor Boy Scout troops, partially resolving claims that the government has improperly supported a group that requires members to believe in God.

The settlement, announced Monday, came in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, which says military units have sponsored hundreds of Boy Scout troops.

The Pentagon said it has long had a rule against sponsorship of nonfederal organizations and denied the rule had been violated. But it agreed to send a message to posts worldwide warning them not to sponsor Boy Scout troops or other such groups.

The rule does not prevent service members from leading Scout troops on their own time, and Scouts will still be able to hold meetings on areas of military bases where civilian organizations are allowed to hold events.

BIRTH RATE AMONG GIRLS IS LOWEST SINCE 1946

The birth rate among American girls ages 10 to 14 has fallen to its lowest level since 1946, the government reported Monday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the number of births among girls in this age group dropped 38 percent from 1994 to 2002 alone, even though the number of girls 10 to 14 climbed 16 percent.

CDC researchers attributed the decline to sex education.

The birth rate among girls this young has been declining since 1994, when 12,901 babies were born to mothers ages 10 to 14.

In 2002, the most recent year with complete data, 7,315 babies were born to this age group, about the same rate as nearly 60 years ago.

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