A bill authorizing $79 billion in emergency funding for the war in Iraq was signed by President Bush. The measure also includes foreign aid and assistance for struggling US airlines. Separately, the Department of Homeland Security lowered the nation's threat alert to yellow, the third-highest level. It was raised March 17, two days before Operation Iraqi Freedom began.

New York may lay off as many as 10,000 more workers as part of $1 billion in spending cuts, Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) said Tuesday. At his annual budget address, Bloomberg called the reductions a "doomsday" contingency for coping with the city's projected $3.8 billion deficit. He's seeking additional state and federal aid, concessions from unions, and a tax on nonresidents who work in New York to offset costs. At a minimum, the city will cut $600 million in spending, Bloomberg said.

In the "last chance to avoid bankruptcy," members of American Airlines flight attendants' union were trying again to complete a vote on labor concessions Wednesday afternoon. Pilots and ground workers of the world's largest carrier both ratified concessions worth $1.2 billion in annual costs Tuesday. But the flight attendants apparently rejected their share of the givebacks sought by American - a $340 million package - by about 500 votes, union leaders said. In doing so, some members complained about the voting process, and the union sought and won American's OK to delay a bankruptcy filing while voting resumed. American has said it must have the agreement of all three unions to avoid the filing.

A federal judge denied bail for Katrina Leung, accused of passing secrets to China during a 20-year career spying for the FBI, saying she poses a flight risk. Lawyers for Leung, a prominent businesswoman and Republican activist in Los Angeles, maintain she was instructed by the agency to turn over secret documents for intelligence purposes. James Smith, a retired FBI agent arrested along with Leung and charged with gross negligence, was granted bail of $250,000.

Consumer prices edged up 0.3 percent in March, while the "core" rate of inflation, which excludes volatile energy and food prices, was flat, the Labor Department said in its closely watched Consumer Price Index. Separately, the Commerce Department reported housing starts rose 8.3 percent last month.

OF NOTE: Two Monitor staff members were finalists for journalism's highest honor, the Pulitzer Prizes, announced earlier this month. Mideast correspondent Cameron W. Barr was a finalist in the "Beat Reporting" category. The jurors cited "the extraordinary clarity, diversity and context in his ongoing coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." The beat-reporting prize went to Diana K. Sugg of the Baltimore Sun for reporting on medical issues. Editorial cartoonist Clay Bennett was a finalist for the fifth straight year, after winning the Pulitzer last year. This year's prize for cartooning was won by David Horsey of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. See full list.

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