USA

Democrats and Republicans have released details of their respective economic stimulus plans. Deriding President Bush's 10-year, $674 billion initiative as fiscally irresponsible, Democratic leaders in the House Monday called for injecting $136 billion into the economy this year through tax rebates, aid to states, and extended benefits for the unemployed. Commerce Secretary Don Evans dismissed that plan as a temporary measure, arguing that Bush's "growth and jobs" proposal, due to be unveiled in Chicago after press time, would create 2.1 million jobs in three years.

In a rare note of agreement, the White House and Democratic congressional leaders pledged to extend the federal unemployment benefits that ended for 750,000 jobless workers Dec. 28. Administration officials said Bush would have to sign a bill extending the benefits by tomorrow to avoid an extended disruption in payments. Under that deadline, the issue was almost certain to be first on the agenda when the 108th Congress opened yesterday.

The FBI has called off a nationwide search for the five men allegedly of Arab descent it previously said had infiltrated the country illegally around Christmas Eve. Despite misgivings about the credibility of the information, which was supplied by an accused immigrant-smuggler jailed in Canada, the agency issued an alert with photographs of the suspects Dec. 29. A law enforcement official said the information was being removed from the FBI website.

Taking the oath of office at the start of his second term, California Gov. Gray Davis (D) pledged "intense, unshakable focus" on reviving his state's economy. Davis faces an estimated $34.8 billion budget deficit and is attempting to repair his own image after a first term marked by a financial downturn and a power crisis. New and returning governors also were sworn in Monday in Wyoming, Idaho, Arizona, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Nevada.

Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota will not seek his party's nomination for president. "After careful reflection, I've concluded that at this moment in our history, with so many important decisions to be made about our nation's future, my passion lies here in the Senate," he said.

Bruce Springsteen, Norah Jones, Avril Lavigne, and Eminem lead this year's list of Grammy nominees. Springsteen had his Sept. 11-themed "The Rising" nominated for album of the year. Eminem received an album citation for "The Eminem Show" - last year's top seller - and a record citation for "Without Me." Jones was nominated for record of the year for "Don't Know Why," while her "Come Away With Me" is on the album of the year list. Eight artists received five nominations each.

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