USA

A month before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, President Bush was warned that Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network might try to hijack US aircraft, administration officials said, in their first such disclosure. But the information was not specific and there were no indications the hijackers planned to target buildings, officials said. Still, the acknowledgement drew criticism from congressional investigators already looking into whether federal agencies missed advance warnings of the attacks. Richard Shelby (R) of Alabama, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told NBC, "If [various information] had been acted on properly, we may have had a different situation on Sept. 11." (Editorial, page 10.)

The House was expected to vote on its version of an update to 1996 welfare reforms, after the Monitor went to press. Congress is contemplating several changes as it renews the legislation. The Republican-backed bill is largely what Bush has requested. It requires more welfare recipients to work, and for longer hours, and funds programs designed to promote marriage. Democrats want more money for child care, education, and job training, and to restore benefits to legal immigrants barred by the current measure. (Story, page 2.)

Legislation that makes it a felony to falsify records of children, the elderly, or disabled in state care was signed by Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) Wednesday. The measure comes in response to the case of a young Miami girl whose disappearance went unnoticed for 15 months in part because her caseworker filed false reports of checkup visits. Bush (right, beside state Rep. Sandra Murman) said, "to falsify records, which is a part of the case of Rilya Wilson, won't happen again without penalties."

The use of "round trip" electricity trades artificially inflated its trading volume by more than $4.4 billion between May 2000 and January 2002, CMS Energy Corp. said Wednesday. The Dearborn, Mich.-based firm revised its 2001 revenues from $13 billion to $9.6 billion. In the wake of the Enron collapse, CMS and others have come under federal scrutiny for such trades, which involve buying electricity from another company and then selling it back for the same price.

Bush was to honor former President Reagan – whom his father served as vice-president – and former first lady Nancy Reagan at a Capitol Hill ceremony as the Monitor went to press. The Reagans were to receive Congressional Gold Medals, with Mrs. Reagan accepting both due to her husband's health problems.

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