USA

Confronting some of his lowest job approval ratings since entering the White House, President Bush was scheduled to entertain reporters' questions Thursday night during his first prime time press conference in over a year. On Wednesday, a "radar anomaly" inside restricted airspace at the White House briefly caused the president to be rushed to an underground bunker. A flock of birds or a pocket of rain may have caused the false alarm.

By a 270-to-157 vote, the House passed legislation Wednesday to make it illegal to take minors across state lines for abortions. The measure is aimed at preventing young women and those who would assist them from dodging parental-consent laws. The bill, which now goes to the Senate, would impose fines, jail time, or both on adults and doctors involved in cases where minors are taken out of state for abortions.

According to court records, not a single application for secret wiretaps was denied last year. The Administrative Office of the US Courts said the number of authorized wiretaps surged by 19 percent. Most of 1,710 applications were in connection with drug investigations and targeted portable devices, such as cellphones and pagers. The surveillance helped to generate 4,506 arrests and 634 convictions based on wiretap evidence.

A student pilot who took flying lessons at the same Gwinnett County, Ga., airport where two 9/11 suicide hijackers trained was arrested in London Wednesday. Nigerian-born Zayead Christopher Hajaig, also known as Barry John Felton, was indicted last week by a federal grand jury on three counts of being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm. He prompted a terror alert earlier this month after allegedly trying to arrange an upgrade of his pilot rating to fly commercial aircraft without the necessary qualifications.

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates argued Wednesday that the current system of limiting the hiring of foreign engineers by US companies "doesn't make sense." Speaking at the Library of Congress in Washington, Gates urged the Bush administration and lawmakers to abolish the H1-B visa cap, which restricts US employers from hiring more than 65,000 engineers, scientists, doctors, and other professionals. A Commerce Department spokesman countered, however, that unemployment among US computer engineers regularly exceeds unemployment in other industries.

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