News In Brief

The Senate Commerce Committee held the first hearing on President-elect Bush's prospective Cabinet as it met with Texas oilman Donald Evans, nominated for secretary of Commerce. Evans, who received a warm reception from the panel, is expected to win Senate approval with little opposition. But there have been signs that at least three nominees - John Ashcroft for attorney general, Linda Chavez for Labor secretary, and Gale Norton for Interior secretary - could face sharp questioning from liberal Democrats who consider their views at odds with existing policy in the departments they've been selected to head. (Story, page 2.)

Bush, meanwhile, chose chief campaign strategist Karl Rove, as his senior adviser and assistant to the president and named campaign manager Joe Allbaugh to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The third member of Bush's so-called "Iron Triangle" of Texas advisers, Karen Hughes, earlier was appointed counselor to the president.

Business executives and financial analysts welcomed the Federal Reserve's decision to slash a key interest rate by half a percent point. Investors also were buoyed by the news, sending the Nasdaq Composite Index up 324.83 points Wednesday, its biggest one-day surge in history. The Dow Jones Industrial Average also soared, by almost 300 points. The Fed's action, its biggest interest-rate cut in more than eight years, is aimed at giving a boost to the gradually sagging economy. Analysts predicted the central bank would make further cuts in the coming months. (Story, page 1.)

Negotiators for striking unions and The Seattle Times reached a tentative settlement that could end a 45-day walkout. Details of the settlement were being withheld pending completion of a written agreement. Workers at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which has a joint operating agreement with the Times, ratified a contract offer last Saturday.

A fire in California's eastern San Diego County that tore across 10,230 acres burned for a second day, but the Santa Ana winds that had fanned the flames were expected to die down. Still, it was unknown when the blaze would be contained fully. At least four houses were destroyed in the fire, and three people, including a firefighter, were injured.

Oklahoma capped a perfect college football season with a 13-2 victory over Florida State in the Orange Bowl. The win gave the Sooners their first national title in 15 years.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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