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By Compiled from wire service reports by Robert Kilborn and Ross Atkin / February 4, 2005



The day after delivering his State of the Union address, President Bush hit the road, campaign-style, to promote his plans to partially privatize Social Security, a proposal that analysts said tests his skill in reaching "across the aisle" during his second term. Stops on the two-day swing are scheduled in North Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Arkansas, and Florida, states where town-hall-type forums might offer an opening to gain support from members of Congress. All five states voted for Bush last November but have Democratic US senators who are expected to seek reelection.

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Paul Volcker, the former US Federal Reserve chairman who is investigating corruption in the UN/Iraq oil-for-food program, described it as "tainted" from top to bottom in the first report on his findings, scheduled for release Thursday.

The Federal Reserve nudged up interest rates again Wednesday, boosting the key funds rate by one-quarter of a point, to 2.5 percent. It was the sixth increase since last summer in the rate that banks charge each other to borrow money. The prime lending rate, which moves in lock step with the federal funds rate, rose another quarter point to 5.5 percent.

The US tsunami warning system needs repair and improvement, heads of several government agencies told a Senate hearing Wednesday. Three of six warning buoys are broken in the Pacific Ocean, where 85 percent of tsunamis occur, and coastal communities would benefit from warning dissemination systems and more deep-ocean detectors, they testified.

The uncertainty over San Diego's mayoral election appeared over after a court rejected a bid to count 5,501 disputed ballots. The ruling upholds the reelection of Mayor Dick Murphy (R). City Councilwoman Donna Frye (D) had fought to have write-in ballots from last Nov. 2 counted even though they did not have an oval next to her name filled in.

Investigators planned to interview the pilot and copilot who were at the controls Wednesday in the crash of a corporate jet at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey. The pilots were among 20 people hospitalized after the plane skidded into a warehouse across from the runway. No one was killed.

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