USA

President Bush chose ex-Montana Gov. Marc Racicot to chair the Republican National Committee as the GOP heads into midterm elections next year. Party leaders are expected to endorse Racicot, a staunch ally of Bush, next month. He would replace Gov. Jim Gilmore of Virginia, who resigned last week amid friction with the White House. Bush reportedly turned to Racicot as part of a broader overhaul of the RNC to prepare for 2002 elections, with control of Congress and three dozen statehouses at stake.

Technology shares led the stock market higher for a second straight day this week, helping to propel the Dow Jones Industrial Average above 10,000 and enabling the Nasdaq to pierce 2,000 in early trading. The Dow hasn't closed above 10,000 since Sept. 5. The Nasdaq hasn't finished above 2,000 since Aug. 7.

Contract talks between a striking teachers' union and the Middletown Township, N.J., public schools were at a standstill, with 47 instructors spending time in jail for defying a court's back-to-work order. More than 700 teachers in Monmouth County's largest school district walked out last week, unwilling to work without a new contract. At issue is a board-of-education proposal requiring teachers to contribute more of their pay for health insurance. Above, some teachers are taken from the courthouse to jail in handcuffs.

Federal environmental officials ordered General Electric to remove tons of poisonous polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), from the bed of a 40-mile stretch of the upper Hudson River in New York state. The dredging operation, one of history's largest, is expected to cost least $500 million. If GE refuses, the Environmental Protection Agency could start work on its own and charge the company triple the cost. GE plants dumped 1.3 million pounds of the pollutants into the river before the government banned them in 1977. The decision follows decades of conflicting studies over PCBs.

Congress approved legislation to allow Mexican trucks wider access to US roads and to fund major transportation programs. Included in the measure was $1.25 billion in spending for tighter aviation security, such as federal screening at airports. The Senate approved 97 to 2 the $60 billion transportation appropriations bill for 2002. It clears the way for Mexican trucks to access all US roads after numerous safety, inspection, and licensing checks are performed. The House approved the legislation last week after negotiators agreed on a compromise with Bush. The new safety standards are not expected to be in place for several months.

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