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A day after the Episcopal Church voted into office its first openly gay bishop, the Rev. V. Gene Robinson said he prayed his appointment would not lead to a split in the church and that other denominations would now be more open to gays and lesbians. Episcopal leaders Tuesday took the final vote to approve Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire, risking a possible exodus of conservatives and a division in the worldwide Anglican faith.

President Bush authorized a small contingent of US troops to enter Liberia to provide logistical support for West African peacekeeping forces there, officials said. The team, sized between six and 10, would report to the US commander aboard a three-ship amphibious group deployed in the waters off the war-torn country, a defense official said.

National Basketball Association star Kobe Bryant was expected in a Colorado courtroom as the Monitor went to press to hear sexual assault charges against him. The advisement hearing under the state's law is similar to an arraignment, and was expected to last about 10 minutes. Bryant's attorneys Tuesday asked Eagle County Judge Frederick Gannett to schedule another hearing in which law enforcement officers could be questioned under oath about any information leaks they may have made, and to punish any that violated an order prohibiting such comments.

University of Massachusetts president William Bulger, under fire for his relationship with his fugitive mobster brother, is considering stepping down, his spokesman said. The school's board of trustees was meeting with him Wednesday morning. The Boston Globe said Bulger and UMass trustee chairwoman Grace Fey were negotiating details of Bulger's departure late Tuesday.

Sen. Diane Feinstein ruled out running for governor in California's Oct. 7 recall election, giving a boost to embattled Gov. Gray Davis (D) but complicating the plans of some California Democrats who wanted a replacement candidate on the ballot. "After thinking a great deal about this recall, its implications for the future, and its misguided nature, I have decided that I will not place my name on the ballot," Feinstein said.

The nine Democrats vying to challenge Bush in 2004 went through a pre-primary before organized labor Tuesday night. Standing in a row they played to labor leaders in the AFL-CIO's presidential forum in Chicago, offering ambitious plans for health care coverage and restrictions on trade agreements, and criticizing the Bush administration's plans to change overtime pay rules.

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