News In Brief
Emergency orders that keep power flowing to California were extended by the Bush administration for two weeks, but federal officials vowed they would not do so again. The directives, first issued by the Clinton administration, require power generators and natural-gas companies to continue selling to California's two major utilities even though they are teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. President Bush has taken the stance that a long-term solution to California's power crisis is the domain of state lawmakers, not the federal government.
One of the most intensive manhunts in decades came to a close as the last two members of the "Texas Seven" prison escapees surrendered peacefully. The pair, who were tracked down at a hotel in Colorado Springs, Colo, are to be arraigned there. Four of their cohorts, who were taken into custody Monday, are to be arraigned about 30 miles away in Cripple Creek. The seventh escapee killed himself. Each of the surviving six is expected to face capital murder charges in Texas for the shooting death of a policeman on Christmas Eve.
A Senate panel vote on the nomination of John Ashcroft for attorney general was delayed by some Democrats. They submitted scores of questions - 126 alone from Patrick Leahy of Vermont - for the nominee to answer in writing. Ashcroft's confirmation has been hotly contested because of his firm conservatives views. Three other cabinet nominees, however, were confirmed: Mel Martinez as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Anthony Principi for head of Veterans Affairs, and former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson at the Department of Health and Human Services.
After meeting with officials at the Federal Reserve, top US bankers said they don't expect the economy to fall into recession this year. But the American Bankers Association committee cited concerns including high energy prices, continued declines in consumer confidence, and cutbacks in business investment. To try to keep the economy on track, the Fed is expected to cut interest rates at its Jan. 31 meeting. (Related story, page 2.)
The white supremacist accused of killing a mail carrier and wounding five people at a Jewish community center in California's San Fernando Valley agreed to a plea bargain. Buford Furrow, pleading guilty to murder and hate crime charges, will be imprisoned for life but will avoid the death penalty.
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