USA

President Bush signed corporate accountability legislation, warning executives who defraud investors: "You'll be exposed and punished." The measure toughens penalties for malfeasance, tightens regulations on financial reporting, and creates an oversight board for auditing firms. Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers were on hand for the ceremony, which came as executives from WorldCom, Global Crossing, and Qwest Communications testified before the Senate Commerce Committee. WorldCom and Global Crossing have filed for bankruptcy and Qwest earlier this week disclosed $1.1 billion in improper accounting.

In bad news for the economy, consumer confidence fell in July to its lowest level in five months. The Conference Board, a New York-based research group, said its Consumer Confidence Index dropped to 97.1 from a revised 106.3 in June. Separate reports showed sales at chain stores also declined this month.

To improve America's image abroad, the Bush administration will open an Office of Global Communications, spokesman Ari Fleischer said, confirming a report in The Washington Post. The new office is an extension of an existing effort to counter anti-US propaganda put out by Afghanistan's former Taliban regime. But unlike a previously planned – and widely denounced – Office of Strategic Information, the new one would not circulate deliberate disinformation, Fleischer said.

Federal investigators looking into an Amtrak derailment near Washington that injured 97 people were analyzing information from the train's two data recorders. One theory is that intense heat may have caused the track to buckle. Temperatures Monday reached the mid-90s F. Amtrak's Capitol Limited was en route from Chicago when it left the tracks at Kensington, Md.

A day after being rescued from a Cape Cod beach, 40 pilot whales stranded themselves again in shallows near Eastham, Mass., about 25 miles away. "This is pretty bad news for them, considering they've refloated once," a Cape Cod Stranding Network spokeswoman said. Nine of the 55 whales marooned Monday died.

Pro basketball star Allen Iverson probably won't face jail time, after a judge in Philadelphia dismissed 12 of 14 charges against him for invading a cousin's home to look for his estranged wife. One witness admitted he lied about seeing Iverson with a gun. The remaining counts of making threats carry a maximum five-year sentence, but the Philadelphia 76ers player likely will be ordered to perform community service and undergo counseling.

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