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Eye on Washington

Fireworks light up the night sky, justice softens in a tobacco suit, high court nixes medical marijuana

July in Washington really does start with a bang-and did again this year-as the Glorious Fourth is celebrated on the National Mall by marching bands, mobs of tourists, and fireworks arching across the sky. Congress-wisely-leaves town until festivities are over. But the Fourth of July recess is a short one, and Congress returned to confront the difficult task of appropriating funds that keep vital programs running without busting the budget. Last month's brouhaha over Senate filibustering is largely over, at least for now, but that bitter partisan dispute will resurface whenever the long-expected retirement of Chief Justice William Rehnquist from the Supreme Court is announced and the Senate takes up the Bush administration's choice of a nominee to replace him.