USA

The federal rules designed to ensure that millions of people receive their private pension benefits are flawed, making it easier for retirement plans to have risky financial shortfalls, says a new report by the Government Accountability Office that calls for Congress to consider broad pension reform. The government's own rules are contributing to that problem, the GAO found, because of leeway in how companies can count assets and liabilities. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., a federal agency that insures the private pensions of millions of workers, saw its deficit more than double to $23.3 billion last year with the collapse of underfunded pension plans at large companies.

The chemical plants and ports just minutes from New York, dubbed "the most dangerous two miles in America," require millions of government dollars for added security, local authorities said Tuesday. Speaking at a news conference in Elizabeth, N.J., Democratic Rep. Bob Menendez and other officials called for immediate assistance in securing the "chemical coastway," home to the largest East Coast seaport, much infrastructure, and many industrial facilities.

Saying his country had extracted "all the intelligence" possible from a top Al Qaeda suspect, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president, told a CNN conference in Atlanta Tuesday, via video-link, that Pakistan will send Abu Farraj al-Libbi to the US. President Bush hailed Pakistan's May 2 capture of al-Libbi, who is widely regarded as Al Qaeda's No. 3 man, as "a critical victory in the war on terror."

Eleven candidates have been certified to run for mayor of San Diego in a July special election, officials said Tuesday. The winner will replace Republican Mayor Dick Murphy, who announced his resignation in April with the city facing deep budget problems and an ongoing accounting probe.

George Bush, the president's father, said Tuesday on CNN's "Larry King Live" that he'd like to see his son Jeb run for president "someday," adding that now was not the time. Gov. Jeb Bush (R) of Florida has repeatedly said he does not plan to run for president in 2008.

US and Mexican officials agreed Tuesday to continue the program begun last summer in which illegal immigrants caught crossing the Mexico border are offered a free plane flight back to Mexico. The program aims to reduce the chances of migrants recrossing the porous Arizona border by flying them deep into the interior of Mexico.

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