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In brief: Bush to address NAACP – finally

President Bush plans to speak to the NAACP for the first time since he was a candidate, with the White House announcing the appearance days after the chairman of the civil rights group publicly urged him to attend.

The president had declined invitations to the NAACP’s annual meeting for five years in a row, and has often been criticized in speeches by the group’s leaders. But under new NAACP President Bruce S. Gordon relations have improved.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is holding its 97th annual gathering at a convention center a mile from the White House.

Presidential spokesman Tony Snow said Bush decided to speak to the group Thursday because of “a moment of opportunity” for the president to tout his civil rights record and mend fences.


Tropical storm threatens N.C.

Tropical Storm Beryl, the second named storm of the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season, formed off the North Carolina coast Tuesday and a tropical storm watch was issued for the eastern part of the state.

A hurricane reconnaissance aircraft reported that the storm’s maximum sustained winds were at least 40 mph, the National Hurricane Center said. At 8 p.m. PDT, Beryl was centered about 130 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras and was moving north at about 7 mph.

The storm was expected to make its closest approach to North Carolina on Wednesday and it was forecast to remain a tropical storm, said hurricane specialist Eric Blake.


Reed concedes defeat in primary

Former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed, unable to overcome his ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, conceded defeat Tuesday in Georgia’s Republican race for lieutenant governor.

Reed was making his first bid for elective office after working for years as a behind-the-scenes campaign strategist and leading the Christian Coalition and the state Republican Party.

He vied with state Sen. Casey Cagle for the GOP nomination in a primary race that appeared closer than expected in recent months because of Reed’s work with Abramoff, who pleaded guilty to fraud and corruption earlier this year.

An upbeat Reed told a crowd of a few dozen cheering supporters that, although his candidacy had ended, his message lives on.

“Stay in the fight. Don’t retreat. And our values will win in November,” he said.

With 69 percent of precincts reporting, Cagle had 148,456 votes, or 56 percent, and Reed had 115,125, or 44 percent.


Illigal immigrants found in desert

About 75 illegal immigrants were found Tuesday in the desert about 50 miles west of Phoenix, many suffering from dehydration and exhaustion from triple-digit heat, authorities said.

Seven immigrants and three sheriff’s deputies were taken to hospitals for treatment, said Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Officers used a helicopter, canine units, and all-terrain vehicles, and conducted foot patrols to search for others believed to be in the area.

Lt. Chuck Siemens, who was in charge of the search, estimated late Tuesday that fewer than 20 people were still in the desert.

The immigrants told authorities that three people had died in the desert, but the search hasn’t turned up any bodies, authorities said.