Sorry to cover the same two stories as yesterday, but they're the big stories again …

German newspaper: Shelter Now workers released
In an article scheduled to be published tomorrow (it's like an episode of Early Edition), German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau reports that the eight foreign aid workers held by the Taliban have been freed and are returning to Kabul. The paper says the news passed from foreign intelligence agencies to the German government, but German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer told a news conference today he hasn't heard anything. "I'm afraid we have no new information regarding the Shelter Now prisoners. We are doing all we can to get the prisoners back," he said. Shelter Now officials are also in the dark. "We must unfortunately say that we cannot confirm the report," deputy director Joachim Jaeger said. "We don't know if our workers are free or where they are. We can only wait and just hope that it's true." Readers can bet that officials in Germany, Australia, and the U.S. are desperately trying to find out what has happened to the prisoners since the Taliban fled Kabul. Meanwhile, the son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi says that if the Taliban hasn't released the prisoners yet, it will soon. He has reportedly been working for their release for the past two months.

Salvation Army's Western Territory upset with benefits policy override
The mainstream media are being slow to pick up the Salvation Army's decision not to extend health benefits beyond spouses and children. Most of the newspapers that have picked up the story haven't done original reporting: they're just picking up the Associated Press report. One of the only papers that did put a reporter on the story is, predictably, the San Francisco Chronicle. What's less predictable is that the Chronicle didn't get any quotes from gay activist groups. The Associated Press, for example, sought comment from Human Rights Campaign. "[The policy] establishes the organization as anti-gay, and in a country that's yearning to come together and heal, this was an extremely divisive move that I don't think will be looked on kindly,'' David Smith said. Instead, the Chronicle quotes city official Chris Daly, who says, "It's a mean-spirited and divisive move to curry favor with right-wingers." Daly, the Chronicle says, "worked with the Western office to see the domestic partner benefits provided." There's apparently enough dissent within the Army to make for a juicy story. Capt. Robert Rudd, community relations and development secretary for the Western Territory, seems to be upset that the area's policy was overruled by the church's commissioners. "Both the right and the left have both spun this story to their own advantage," he told the AP. "While everyone's fighting, the hurting masses of our society, the ones that are easily rejected and forgotten, will be the ones that carry the brunt of this decision."

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