Firefighters gain ground on blaze

CALIMESA, Calif. - Crews battling a 6,000-acre wildfire scrambled to burn off heavy brush near homes Thursday before an expected resurgence of the hot, dry Santa Ana winds.

By morning, the day-old blaze was 25 percent contained, up from 5 percent the night before, and flames had retreated from a freeway's edge, said Rick Griggs, spokesman for the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The blaze had threatened about 100 homes in a sparsely populated area about 60 miles east of Los Angeles, and residents of about 20 homes had been encouraged to evacuate, but those residents were told they could return, officials said.

Search for girl's mom turns up body

NEW YORK - Police said they believe a body recovered at a Pennsylvania landfill Thursday is that of the mother of a 4-year-old girl who was found abandoned on a city street.

Authorities have been searching for Monica Lozada-Rivadineira since Sept. 24, when her daughter was found wandering barefoot after dark in Queens. A body wrapped in black plastic bags was found Thursday in a Vintondale, Pa., landfill, said police spokesman Paul Browne.

Terrorism suspects topic of Senate bill

WASHINGTON - The Senate faces a confrontation with the House over a $440 billion military spending bill that would impose restrictions on the treatment of terrorism suspects. The Senate voted

90-9 on Wednesday to back an amendment that would prohibit the use of ''cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment'' against anyone in U.S. government custody, regardless of where they are held.

Former officer faces conspiracy charge

WASHINGTON - A former Filipino police official was indicted Thursday on charges of passing classified information from an FBI analyst to current and former officials in the Philippines.

The FBI is investigating whether the analyst, a former Marine, also provided classified information taken from the White House when he worked in the vice president's office, government officials say. Michael Ray Aquino, 39, was charged with conspiracy and acting as an unregistered foreign agent.

Jewish father sues Air Force Academy

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A Jewish father of two Air Force Academy cadets sued the Air Force on Thursday, claiming senior officers and cadets illegally imposed Christianity on others at the school.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court by Mikey Weinstein, an academy graduate. Over the past decade or more, the lawsuit claims, academy leaders have fostered an environment of religious intolerance at the Colorado school, in violation of the First Amendment.

NYC subways brace for possible threat

NEW YORK - Authorities stepped up mass transit security Thursday after receiving a credible threat that the city's subway system could be the target of a terrorist attack in coming days.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said at a news conference the threat originated overseas. Bloomberg said it was the most specific threat New York officials had received to date.

U.S. makes plans to contain bird flu

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration's top health official said Thursday that ''no one in the world is ready'' for a potentially catastrophic outbreak of bird flu as President Bush summoned vaccine manufacturers to the White House to discuss the situation. Outlining the pandemic plan in an interview Wednesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said U.S. health officials would rush overseas to wherever a bird flu outbreak occurred and work with local officials to try to contain it.

Study: Vaccine prevents cervical cancer in short term

TRENTON, N.J. - The first large study of an experimental cervical cancer vaccine found it was 100 percent effective, in the short term, at blocking the most common cause of the disease, the vaccine's maker said Thursday.

Merck's genetically engineered vaccine prevents cervical cancer by blocking infection from the human papilloma virus strains that cause 70 percent of cervical cancers.

FEMA pledges to reassess contracts

WASHINGTON - Millions of dollars in federal contracts for Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts that were handed out with little or no competition will be rebid to prevent any waste or abuse, FEMA chief R. David Paulison said Thursday.

''All of those no-bid contracts, we are going to go back and rebid,'' he said.

- From wire reports