USA

President Bush urged support for the $100 billion economic stimulus package assembled by House Republicans but recognizes that he'll have to compromise with Democrats on a final plan, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said. The plan approved by the House Ways and Means Committee is heavy on business tax cuts opposed by Democrats and exceeds the $60 billion to $75 billion Bush requested. It also would provide a new round of rebate checks for lower-income workers. The House is expected to take up the measure tomorrow.

The Federal Aviation Administration was to begin reviewing records at every US airport to ensure security screeners received proper background checks before they were hired. They'll start with Boston, Newark, N.J., and Washington's Dulles, where planes used in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks took off.

Industrial activity plummeted in September, the 12th straight month of decline, as the attacks dealt a new blow to the manufacturing sector. The last time the US experienced 12 consecutive declines in industrial output was from November 1944 through October 1945. Output at factories, utilities, and mines fell 1 percent last month, the worst showing since June, the Federal Reserve reported.

Authorities closed an entire wing of a Senate office building in Washington and were testing or treating hundreds of people for possible exposure to anthrax after receiving confirmation that the bacterium was in mail opened in Majority Leader Tom Daschle's office. The closure in the Hart building involves offices of 11 senators. Police said the only "positive" identification of anthrax spores had come on the mail itself. Mail delivery has been suspended in the Capitol complex.

No new traces of anthrax bacteria were found after New York health authorities searched all major media companies based there, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (R) said. Giuliani ordered the searches after an infant son of an ABC News producer became the latest person found to have anthrax. The child is expected to recover. At least 13 people have been exposed to anthrax in letters arriving at offices in New York, Washington, and Reno, Nev. Below, Giuliani opens mail in New York's municipal building to ease public fears.

The Bush administration lost a court battle to block testimony against Iran by ex-US hostages who said they should receive compensation because they were "America's first victims of terrorism." With Iran condemning the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, government lawyers had asked for dismissal of a lawsuit by the ex-hostages held captive for 444 days in 1979-80 when Iranians overran the US Embassy in Tehran.

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