USA

President Bush laid out a multifaceted $7.1 billion plan Tuesday for dealing with rising concern about the possibility of a pandemic influenza outbreak. At the National Institutes of Health in Washington, Bush said the cornerstone of his strategy is to develop new technologies to produce vaccines quickly. In the short term, he asked Congress for $1.2 billion to buy enough vaccine to innocculate 20 million Americans against the current strain of so-called bird flu.

Vice President Cheney promoted two close aides Monday to fill the vacancy left by his former top aide, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who resigned following last week's indictment in a CIA-leak probe. His chief counsel, David Addington, was named new chief of staff, and John Hannah, his deputy national security adviser, was elevated to national security adviser. Libby had jointly held both positions.

Activity in both residential and private commercial construction was at an all-time high in September, the Commerce Department reported. Overall construction rose 0.5 percent to $1.12 trillion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate. Consumer spending also grew at the same pace as American incomes - 1.7 percent, the highest gain in nearly a year.

Both sides in a Philadelphia transit strike that began Monday and is affecting roughly a half-million bus, subway, and trolley riders said they were waiting for a state mediator to set up a negotiating session.

Britain's Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, began a weeklong goodwill visit to the US Tuesday, the first since their wedding in April. The itinerary called for the couple to spend their first day in New York, dedicating a garden at the World Trade Center site, visiting UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and attending a reception at the Museum of Modern Art. Later, they're to be the guests of honor at a White House dinner.

A 14-mile express bus corridor designed to relieve freeway congestion in Los Angeles was opened to paying customers Monday. The service in the San Fernando Valley provides a repaved trolley line for extra-long buses. It cost $340 million to build, compared with $300 million per mile for a subway.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D) of Louisiana summoned state lawmakers to a two-week hurricane recovery session beginning Sunday in Baton Rouge. Meanwhile, an environmental group sued the city of New Orleans in an attempt to stop the dumping of debris from homes abandoned after hurricane Katrina at a long-closed site where ground contamination is a concern.

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