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Tubman finally gets pension

The U.S. government is finally settling up with abolitionist Harriet Tubman for her service as a scout, nurse and spy during the Civil War. An appropriations bill headed to President Bush

includes $11,750 to preserve and maintain the Harriet Tubman Home in Auburn, N.Y. _ an amount equal to the pension Tubman should have received from 1899 to 1913 if calculated in today's values. Tubman requested the pension for her wartime service but never received it. Tubman, a former slave, led more than 300 runaway slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad, a string of safe houses and hiding places from the South to the North.

Italian premier writes love songs

Italian premier and one-time cruise ship crooner Silvio Berlusconi has co-written an album of love songs that will be released soon

by Universal Music. Berlusconi, 67, wrote half the tunes on Better With a Song (Meglio Una Canzone), 14 ballads in the romantic Neapolitan style. Berlusconi does not sing on the CD. The songs are performed by Mariano Apicella, whom he met at a Naples restaurant in 2001.

Reagan miniseries draws criticism

Media Research Center president Brent Bozell said his conservative watchdog organization has sent a letter to the "top 100 corporate advertisers" claiming the upcoming CBS miniseries The Reagans has "blatantly distorted the history and is nothing

more than a partisan political attack against one of America's most beloved presidents." No one outside of CBS has seen the film, which will air Nov. 16 and 18, but some people have acquired leaked portions of the script. Ad agency executives say it's highly unlikely that protests are going to prompt sponsors to bail out.

Conservationist guilty of smuggling wildlife

Michael Linley, an award-winning British film producer and conservationist, pleaded guilty Thursday to 33 charges of trying to smuggle 187 frogs and reptiles out of Australia

but said he would fight a charge of subjecting them to cruelty. He was arrested at Perth International Airport on Oct. 20, after customs officials found 187 frogs, lizards and snakes, 26 reptile eggs and some insects in his suitcases. Linley, producer of a British wildlife program, Survival, pleaded guilty to 31 state offenses for which he could be fined up to $87,000.

UPDATE: SOLAR FLARE

The powerful geomagnetic storm that struck Earth Wednesday apparently didn't trigger big power blackouts or other major problems, but a new ejection, whipping toward Earth at perhaps 4-million to 5-million miles an

hour, was expected to arrive Thursday with effects lingering into this morning or longer. It appeared comparable in strength to the prior one.

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