National Briefs / Hunger strike wanes at Gitmo

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WASHINGTON -- A U.S. military spokesman said Sunday that 15 detainees at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who had been listed as having gone on hunger strike had quit participating in the protest, accelerating an apparent downward trend since the start of Ramadan last week.

The spokesman, Lt. Col. Samuel House, said in an email that as of Sunday, 81 of the 166 prisoners were still listed as taking part in the hunger strike. That figure was down from 96 on Saturday, 102 on Friday, 104 on Thursday and 106 on Wednesday, the number at which participation in the protest had peaked and plateaued.

Last week, at the start of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month in which Muslims fast during daylight hours, the military began moving compliant detainees who were not participating in the hunger strike back into communal living conditions, where they could pray together. The bulk of the detainees in communal conditions had been forced into individual-cell lockdown in a raid in April.

The drop in hunger strike participants began soon afterward. On Friday, the military said that 99 of the 102 detainees then tracked as participants had voluntarily eaten a meal within the last 24 hours, and that about 100 detainees were "living in some sort of communal setting at the various camps."

Senate rule changes spat

WASHINGTON -- Proposed changes to Senate rules would either ease the way for President Barack Obama to assemble his second-term team or permanently threaten the body's deliberative style, the chamber's top Democratic and Republican lawmakers said Sunday.

Democratic Leader Harry Reid and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell once again strongly disagreed during separate television segments on the eve of a rare closed-door summit that could reduce the Senate's reputation as deliberative to the point of inaction.

Mr. Reid said the changes were not about the appointment of judges or passing legislation. "This is allowing the people of America to have a president who can have his team," he said.

Mr. McConnell called Democrats' proposed changes contrary to Senate tradition, which typically requires 60 votes to end debate and move forward on nominations or legislation.

Food stamp funding

WASHINGTON -- Congress will "absolutely" fund the federal food stamp program even after passing a farm-policy bill this month without including money for food aid for the poor, a Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Butler, said Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation."

The farm policy legislation that passed the House last week didn't include language to renew food-aid programs for the poor. No Democrats supported the measure, which benefits crop buyers such as Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. and insurers including Wells Fargo & Co.

Bogus pilot names offend

SEOUL, South Korea -- Asiana Airlines said Sunday its reputation was damaged by a report on a San Francisco TV station that used bogus and racially offensive names for four pilots on its plane that crashed earlier this month and is considering legal action.

An anchor for KTVU-TV read the names on the air Friday and then apologized after a break. The report was accompanied by a graphic with the phony names listed alongside a photo of the burned out plane. Video of the report has spread widely across the Internet since it was broadcast.

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