USA

Bolstering the administration's drive to get a Social Security reform bill enacted this year, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan urged Congress to move quickly to fix the financing problems in Social Security and Medicare, arguing that delay will only make the country's budgetary problems more severe. Greenspan reiterated his support of President Bush's push for personal retirement accounts by diverting up to 4 percentage points of payroll taxes into the new accounts.

Bush's bid to resurrect failed judicial nominations got off to a rocky start Tuesday at a Senate hearing, when freshman Ken Salazar (D) of Colorado urged him to withdraw them. In pushing for approval of seven judicial nominees who were turned down during Bush's first term, Sen. Charles Schumer (D) of New York accused the president of playing a game of "judicial chicken."

The Supreme Court ruled that former Soviet-bloc spies, identified in court filings only as John and Jane Doe, cannot sue over alleged breech of contract by the CIA. The unanimous opinion centered on the nature of spying deals. "The possibility that a suit may proceed and an espionage relationship may be revealed ... is unacceptable," Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote. The spies, a former diplomat and his wife, claimed the CIA reneged on its promise of lifetime security after John Doe, with a new identity, lost a subsequent job in 1997.

The high court also heard arguments in a pair of cases about whether displaying the Ten Commandments on public property is an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion. The court last ruled on the issue in 1980, when it struck down a Kentucky law that required schools to post copies of the Commandments. A ruling in the current cases is due by the end of June.

Despite seemingly relentless acts of terrorism, the number of insurgents in Iraq is shrinking, Army Gen. John Abizaid, told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday. Abizaid, the top US commander in the Middle East, estimated that no more than 3,500 terrorists or Baathist insurgents took part in a failed attempt to disrupt the Jan. 30 election.

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