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The Mormon Church has declared its support for the Boy Scouts of America's proposal to end a longstanding ban on openly gay youths, while continuing to bar gay adult leaders. The endorsement Thursday by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the country's largest sponsor of scout troops, is a strong indication that the proposed change will be adopted by delegates to the group's annual meeting, to start in Texas on May 22. The ban on gay youths and leaders has come under growing scrutiny, with some cities and charities saying they cannot support an organization that discriminates. But the Boy Scouts also feared losing partnerships with conservative churches that call homosexual acts a sin. The Mormon Church sponsors 25 percent of all local Cub Scout and Boy Scout groups, accounting for 15 percent of a total membership of 2.7 million.


White House eases on cybersecurity

The White House has backed away from its push for mandatory cybersecurity standards in favor of an approach that would combine voluntary measures with incentives for companies to comply. That approach reflects recognition of the political reality of a divided Congress that makes mandated standards difficult to push through, and a belief that an executive order President Barack Obama signed in February could improve companies' cybersecurity, officials said.

Billings, Mont.

Rule would end wolf protections

Federal wildlife officials have drafted plans to lift protections for gray wolves across the Lower 48 states, a move that could end a decades-long recovery effort that has restored the animals but only in parts of their historic range. The draft U.S. Department of Interior rule obtained by the Associated Press says the 6,000 wolves living in the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes are enough to prevent the species' extinction. The Fish and Wildlife Service said Friday the rule would be published in the Federal Register and opened to comment before a final decision is made.


Washington: Air Force Secretary Michael Donley will step down after a five-year tenure and return to private life, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Friday.

Russia: A fire raged through a wood-and-brick psychiatric hospital outside Moscow early Friday, killing 38 people, as firefighters made the hourlong journey from the nearest station, safety officials said.

Russia: A Russian court on Friday rejected a plea for early release from prison by a member of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot, whose provocative songs and prosecution have made them a symbol of the country's opposition movement.

Uganda: The fugitive African warlord Joseph Kony recently found haven in territory controlled by Sudan, the U.S.-based watchdog group Resolve said Friday.

Times wires