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Federal emergency aid to help New York recover from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was the focus of a White House meeting between President Bush and a delegation that included the state's governor, the city's new mayor, and congressional representatives. Bush has pledged $20 billion and, almost six months after the disaster, the city has received a bit more than half that. In addition, the manager of the government's compensation fund for families of those killed Sept. 11 was expected to increase amounts and make more people eligible, when he released final guidelines.

In the fourth such effort, a $94 billion economic stimulus plan was on track for approval in the House. The legislation would extend the usual 26-week jobless benefits by 13 weeks and cut business taxes, with special tax breaks for a "liberty zone" in the section of New York hardest hit on Sept. 11. Three other measures passed by the Republican-controlled House all failed in the Senate, where Democrats have a one-vote majority.

Bush's choice for a federal appeals court post won a one-week reprieve when the Senate Judiciary Committee put off its vote on US District Judge Charles Pickering. Requesting the delay, Sen. Orrin Hatch, (R) of Utah, accused "extreme left Washington special-interest groups" of trying to derail the nomination. All 10 Democrats on the panel have said they'll vote against Pickering.

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Amtrak announced the surprise resignation of president George Warrington. An Amtrak source said he accepted a job in charge of NJ Transit, New Jersey's bus and commuter rail agency. Congress has given Amtrak until December to become self-sufficient. But the passenger rail service isn't expected to make it, and an advisory panel has suggested a breakup.

Tennessee officials plan to file charges against the operator of Georgia crematory accused of failing to dispose of human remains, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported. Ray Brent Marsh already faces 174 counts in his home state. Authorities have recovered 339 bodies.

The El Niño event, associated with wetter or drier-than-normal weather, may be back. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said it found two signs of El Niño last month: higher surface temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific, and increased rainfall.

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