USA

The House approved 357 to 66 a compromise antiterrorism bill that gives police new powers to secretly search homes of terrorism suspects, tap their telephones, and track their use of the Internet. The Senate was expected to approve the measure and send it to President Bush for his signature Friday. Attorney General Ashcroft has been calling for new laws since the Sept. 11 attacks, but debate over civil liberties and privacy concerns delayed their passage. The House Tuesday passed legislation authorizing the Treasury Department to issue the first war bonds since World War II.

The House was to vote on a GOP-backed stimulus plan that would put $100 billion into the economy in the next year through business tax breaks and rebate checks to people who didn't receive them earlier. The plan has been called too generous by the White House and has been criticized by congressional Democrats as not supporting workers who lose their jobs. The bill would remove a five-year holding rule on the capital gains tax, meaning most capital gains would be taxed at 18 percent instead of the current 20 percent.

Preliminary tests on 120 White House workers showed no sign of exposure to anthrax, after traces of the bacteria were found on a machine that opens White House mail at a facility six miles away, officials said. President Bush also said he's confident White House workers are in no danger, and health officials reportedly have found no traces of anthrax in the executive mansion.

Postmaster General John Potter warned Americans that "mail should be handled carefully." But in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America" he stressed that the risks of anthrax exposure are "very, very slim." Meanwhile, Bush announced the Postal Service will be given $175 million in federal funds to help protect its workers. Health officials were testing and treating thousands of postal employees in New York and Washington for possible anthrax exposure, after tainted letters were mailed to the Capitol and various news media organizations. Twelve people currently have been diagnosed with anthrax, half of whom have the easily treatable skin form.

Vice President Cheney said the US has prevented some potential terrorist attacks by disrupting some operations of Osama bin Laden's network, adding: "Terrorists and their supporters are, for the first time, beginning to worry about their own safety." Meanwhile, Attorney General Ashcroft said a terrorist cell operating in Hamburg, Germany, and the US since at least 1999 included three of the hijackers and three accomplices who helped them plan and carry out the Sept. 11 attacks. German authorities have issued international arrest warrants for three fugitives suspected planning the attacks. (Story, page 1.)

About 20 families of Japanese men and teenage boys who died when a US submarine sank the fishing vessel Ehime Maru visited the area where Navy divers are working to recover their remains. Six victims have been recovered so far. Five men and four boys from Uwajima Fisheries High School were killed Feb. 9 when the Ehime Maru was hit by the USS Greeneville during an emergency surfacing drill off Hawaii.

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