2A -- The Michigan Daily - Thursday, January 31, 2002
GAO suing for energy records
NEWS IN BRIEF
HEADLIN S.O AONDTE O
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Gen-
eral Accounting Office has decided to
sue the White House for access to
documents from President Bush's
energy task force, a congressional
source told The Associated Press yes-
The GAO's plan to take the White
House to court sets up a political
battle over executive privilege. Bush
on Monday flatly refused to hand
over the documents, saying to do so
would encroach on his ability to
freely seek outside views.
A decision had been expected all
week from Comptroller General
David Walker, leader.,of GAO, Con-
gress' investigative arm. The GAO
wants to force Vice President Dick
Cheney, who ran the task force, to
turn over documents on the meet-
ings held last year with business
executives as the Bush administra-
tion crafted a national energy poli-
Some of the meetings included offi-
cials from the now-collapsed Enron
Corp., a Houston-based energy trader
with deep ties to Bush.
"We have been notified that they
will be announcing their decision
today and that their decision is that
they will be moving forward," said
the Senate source, speaking on con-
dition on anonymity.
It would be the, first time in the
GAO's 80-year existence that it sued
the executive branch. The lawsuit
would be filed in the U.S. District
Court in Washington.
The White House said it had not
received notification of the GAO law-
suit. "The president will stand on prin-
ciple and for the right of presidents
and this president to receive candid
advice without it being turned into a
news release," said White House
spokesman Ari Fleischer.
White House officials, fearing polit-
ical fallout from the legal action,
scrambled to raise questions about the
GAO officials were calling congres-
sional leaders yesterday to tell them of
the decision. An official announce-
ment was expected later in the day.
s interest rates unchanged
WASHINGTON (AP) - Amid signs meeting.
the worst of the recession may be over, "Signs that weakness in demand is
the Federal Reserve left a key interest abating and economic activity is begin-
rate unchanged yesterday, ending a year- ning to firm have become more preva-,
long stretch of uninterrupted credit eas- lent," the Fed said in a statement
ing. explaining its decision. "With the forces
After 11 consecutive rate reductions restraining the economy starting to
last year, Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan diminish ... the outlook for economic
and his colleagues opted to keep the recovery has become more promising."
federal funds rate - the interest that On Wall Street, stocks rallied. The
banks charge each other on overnight Dow Jones industrial average, based on
loans -at 1.75 percent, the lowest level preliminary calculations, closed up
in 40 years. The decision was 144.62 points at 9,762.86, with the
announced after a two-day closed-door index gaining back part of Tuesday's big
U.S. s Iuppli1es mon
WASHINGTON (AP) - The State Department In the meantime, the in
reached a stopgap agreement yesterday to give $2.4 the Congress' accounti
million over three months to the leading Iraqi group Greenberg said.
working against President Saddam Hussein. The Iraqis had been sc
The agreement was based on "a good-faith cial support today unles
effort" by the Iraqi National Congress to deal with State Department that th
weaknesses found by the department's inspector tracking its funds adequ
geheral in an audit of the INC's accounting system help the London-based
for money it has received from the United States, activities.
said State Department spokeswoman Brenda The aid program for t
Greenberg. suspended in early Janua
The opposition group shares a longtime and unful- tem to account for its spen
filled U.S. hope to weaken Saddam's rule. The agree- Leaders of the oppos
ment, reached at the end of daylong negotiations, with Undersecretary of S
also specifies new negotiations for U.S. money for ward, Iraqi National Con
next year. told reporters: "We de
Commercial banks' prime lending
rate, the benchmark for millions of con-
sumer and business loans, has dropped
in lockstep with the Fed moves and con-
tinues at 4.75 percent, a level last seen
in November 1965.
The Fed began cutting rates on Jan. 3,
2001, and ordered its last rate reduction
on Dec. 11, its final meeting of the year..j
Those rate reductions were designed tol
revive the economy, which was ailing
even before it slid into recession in
iey to Iraq.
"There's no use tossing more coal
onto a fire that has been exhibiting a
warmer glow," said economist Richard
Yamarone of Argus Research Corp.
Even though the Fed opted to hold
rates steady yesterday, it left the door
open to further rate reductions if neces-
"The degree of any strength in busi-
ness capital and household spending,
however, is still uncertain," the Fed said.
Still, many economists, believing the
economy is on the mend, are not fore-
casting additional rate reductions.
Kidnappers threaten to kill reporter
An e-mail purportedly sent yesterday by kidnappers holding Wall Street
Journal reporter Daniel Pearl threatened to kill him within 24 hours. It
also warned American journalists to leave the country within three days.
There was no way to authenticate the e-mail, which was sent to both
Western and Pakistani news organizations.
The e-mail claimed that Pearl, the Journal's South Asian bureau chief
who disappeared a week ago in Karachi, was an agent for the Israeli intel-
ligence service, the Mossad.
"Therefore we will execute him within 24 hours unless Amreeka
(America) fulfills our demands," said the e-mail. The message also criti-
cized the United States for not providing lawyers and trials for Pakistanis
detained on terrorism-related charges.
The e-mail accused U.S. journalists of working for intelligence agencies
and warned "all Amreekan journalists" working in Pakistan to leave the
country within three days.
"Anyone remaining after that will be targeted," it said.
The message was unsigned, but had similar phrases as e-mails sent over
the weekend by the group claiming to hold Pearl.
Airport evacuated after passenger flees
Thousands of passengers were evacuated from San Francisco Interna-
tional Airport for more than two hours yesterday after security guards
detected explosives residue on the shoes of a man who then disappeared
into the crowd.
A search of the United Airlines terminal failed to find the man, and the
terminal was reopened mid-morning, with all passengers being rescreened,
said airport spokesman Ron Wilson.
"We've searched the terminal. It's safe and secure," Wilson said. "It's
unfortunate that one individual can cause this madness."
About a quarter of the airport was evacuated around 7 a.m., the peak of
the morning travel rush, after the residue was detected on the man's shoes
at a checkpoint, said airport spokesman Mike McCarron. "When they went
to stop him, he didn't stop," McCarron said.
The explosive material could be anything from fireworks residue to nitro-
glycerin tablets, McCarron said. It was detected after a gauze-like material was
wiped across the man's shoes, then put through a machine. -
nspector general's review of
ng system will continue,
heduled to -lose their finan-
s they could convince the
heir accounting system was
ately. The payments are to
group in its anti-Saddam
he anti-Saddam group was
ary in a dispute over a sys-
ition group met yesterday
tate Marc Grossman. After-
gress spokesman Sharif Ali
veloped some very good
Additional meetings were planned with Assistant
Secretary of State William Burns.
Organization leaders also met yesterday with offi-
cials at the Pentagon. Asked by reporters whether the
session indicated an acceleration of military plan-
ning' against Saddam, Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld said he was not involved in the meeting,
and it carried no special meaning.
At the State Department, spokesman Richard
Boucher said: "The inspector general raised several
questions that needed to be addressed." He said care
was necessary when "dealing with taxpayers'
Ali said his session with Grossman "was a very
Reno 'doing very
well' after collapse
Former Attorney General Janet
Reno collapsed yesterday night during
a speech and was taken to a hospital.
Reno, 63, was conscious when taken
to Strong Memorial Hospital in
Rochester, according to the Democrat
and Chronicle of Rochester.
Darrell Grigg, a spokesman for
Rural/Metro Medical Services, told
the newspaper Reno's signs were "very
"She is doing very well right now,"
Messages left by The Associated
Press with a hospital representative
were not immediately returned.
Reno had been speaking for about
45 minutes at the University of
Rochester when she told the audience,
"You're going to have to excuse me for
a minute. I'm going to have to sit
down," the newspaper said. She then
Post office seeks to
ease mail concerns
The Postal Service sought to reas-
sure the public - and mailroom work-
ers - that irradiated mail is not
"We have had the mail tested by a
number of agencies and they have
determined that there is not a level of
carbon monoxide or any other toxic
substances that should cause anyone to
become ill," postal executive Deborah
Wilhite said yesterday.
In an effort to negate any future
anthrax attack, the post office is
radiating mail addressed to Wash-
ington ZIP codes where federal
agencies are located. It is treating
about 350,000 items a day
addressed to ZIP codes 20200
There have been complaints of
fumes, and people have reported feel-
ing ill after opening the radiated mail,
and experiencing skin reactions.
NYU grad students
allowed to unionize
New York University and the union
representing its graduate students
have agreed on a contract believed to
be the first of its kind involving a pri-
The agreement was reached Mon-
day and the students were scheduled
to vote on it yesterday. The four-year
deal would increase health benefits
"We were really pleased with the
outcome, that we were able to resolve
this in an amicable fashion," said
Maida Rosenstein, president of UAW
NYU's graduate students were
the first to unionize at a private
U.S. school after they received the
go-ahead from the National Labor
Relations Board in 2000. The local
represents more than 1,000 gradu-
ate students, many of them teaching
- Compiled from Daily wire reports.
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