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Scouts can't ban boys who won't swear to God

Boys who won't swear duty to God can't be banned from the Boy Scouts of America, a California court has ruled.

The 4th District Court of Appeal on Monday allowed twins Michael and William Randall of Anaheim, both 12, to remain Boy Scouts. They had been kicked out for refusing to say "God" in the Scouts' oath.

Judge Thomas Crosby cited California's anti-discrimination act that bars businesses from excluding people because of their religious beliefs.

The twins were kicked out in 1991 and reinstated by a lower court in 1992. The Boy Scouts appealed the lower court ruling, which was upheld by the 4th District Court.

"When the word God comes up they just keep their mouths shut," said Jon Davidson, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union. He said the twins each received $250 in statutory damages.

Last year, the Girl Scouts of America changed their oath to allow members to substitute "God" with another word or words they deem appropriate.

Baltimore to ban tobacco billboards

BALTIMORE _ The City Council has voted unanimously to ban tobacco advertising on billboards in nearly all neighborhoods.

Mayor Kurt Schmoke plans to sign the measure, thought to be the first of its kind in the nation.

"We're proud to be the first . . . in trying to protect our children from the glamorizing of addictive habits," council president Mary Pat Clarke said Monday.

Baltimore already has banned alcohol billboard advertising except in highly industrialized areas and near stadiums and sports parks. The tobacco bill is almost identical.

Supporters said the bans send an important message to young people, especially those in poorer neighborhoods where many of the tobacco and liquor billboards are placed.

Walker Merryman, vice president of the Tobacco Institute in Washington, said the bill violates free speech.

Bad weather threatens shuttle launch

CAPE CANAVERAL _ NASA braced for a storm that threatened to delay Thursday's planned launch of space shuttle Columbia on a two-week science mission.

A squall was expected to pass through Kennedy Space Center today and leave high wind in its wake, said launch weather officer Ed Priselac. He said there was only a 30 percent chance of good weather for Columbia's scheduled 8:54 a.m. Thursday liftoff.

The storm was expected to cause rough seas, which could be dangerous for NASA's two booster recovery ships and their crews. The ships are supposed to be stationed about 180 miles offshore at liftoff to retrieve the shuttle's two solid rocket boosters, which drop away two minutes into flight and land in the Atlantic Ocean.

Keebler recalls cookies

ELMHURST, Ill. _ Keebler Co. is recalling some of its Fudge Shoppe brand Fudge'n Caramel Cookies because the ingredients fail to list peanut butter.

Cookies in packages marked with date codes including "L261" may contain peanut butter, even though it is not shown on the ingredient list. The company said Tuesday it is recalling the cookies only because of the risk of allergic reaction, but no allergic reactions have been reported.

The product can be returned to the store where they were purchased for reimbursement or replacement.

For more information, call Keebler at 1-800-554-5676.