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AROUND THE NATION

BOMB THREAT FORCES EVACUATION OF PLANE

FARGO, N.D. (AP) -- A Northwest Airlink commuter plane was evacuated before takeoff Monday morning after two passengers claimed to have overheard someone mention a bomb while talking on a cell phone, police said.

Sgt. Steve Lynk said the plane's crew was alerted and passengers were told to leave the plane at about 5:30 a.m.

The plane was at Hector International Airport ready to leave for Minneapolis-St. Paul with 57 passengers. As they were waiting to board, two passengers overheard another passenger talking on a cell phone, making a reference to "bombs away" and the flight.

"They overheard the man say that into the phone," Lynk said.

Passengers were taken to a secure area where they were questioned. Police Sgt. Kevin Volrath said no one was arrested and authorities found nothing suspicious.

Passengers were allowed to reboard, and the plane took off after a 4 1/2 -hour delay.

The plane is operated by Mesaba Airlines for Northwest Airlines' commuter service.

U.S. DENIES REQUEST FOR ISLAMIC CHARITIES LIST

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- The U.S. government rejected a request Monday from Muslim groups to draw up a list of Islamic charities to which they could donate without being suspected of terrorist ties.

Muslim groups said they fear giving to a charity that might make them look suspicious to the FBI. The holy month of Ramadan begins this week, and Muslims are required to give to the poor during that period.

"If the government knows there are charities that are misleading the American Muslim community, it's their obligation to help protect these innocent Americans," said Sohail Mohammed, a lawyer for the New Jersey-based American Muslim Union.

The request was rejected by the Justice Department, which called it impossible to fulfill.

"Our role is to prosecute violations of criminal law," said spokesman Bryan Sierra. "We're not in a position to put out lists of any kind, particularly of any organizations that are good or bad."

STUDY TO FOCUS ON SISTERS OF BREAST CANCER VICTIMS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A new national study will investigate genetic and environmental causes of breast cancer by enrolling 50,000 sisters of women already diagnosed with the disease.

The Sister Study, conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the government's National Institutes of Health, is the largest study of its kind.

"By studying sisters who share the same genes, often had similar experiences and environments and are at twice the risk of developing breast cancer, we have a better chance of learning what causes this disease," Dr. Dale Sandler, the study's principal investigator, said in a statement Monday.

The sisters who volunteer will donate blood, urine, toenails -- even household dust -- to help uncover how daily rituals and routines, as well as genetics, factor into breast cancer risk.

DOZENS HURT AS TOUR BUS HITS GUARDRAIL, OVERTURNS

MARION, ILL. (AP) -- A tour bus taking people home from a charity event ran off a highway in southern Illinois and overturned, injuring dozens of passengers, authorities said.

The bus was en route from Chicago to Holly Springs, Miss., with at least 43 people on board Sunday night when it struck a guardrail on Interstate 57, slid nearly 70 feet down an embankment and landed on its side, said Robert Ventura, an accident reconstructionist with the State Police.

Ventura said investigators would examine the bus to determine if mechanical problems contributed to the crash. They were also questioning passengers to see if the bus driver was fatigued.

Authorities said the passengers were residents of Tennessee and Mississippi who were returning home after participating in a prostate cancer fund-raiser in Chicago organized by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

Authorities said the bus was operated by Mary's Travel & Tour Service of Rossville, Tenn.

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