Anthrax removed from the Pentagon

WASHINGTON

Anthrax was detected inside the Pentagon and promptly removed, officials said yesterday. Cleanup in the Senate office building where an anthrax-packed letter was opened proved more complicated.

Government agencies moved to test buildings around the country for the presence of anthrax spores, and officials at the Mayo Clinic unveiled a more rapid test for anthrax exposure.

Co-workers mourned the death of a New York hospital worker as investigators chased leads to the anthrax that killed her. Another victim came home from the hospital and a third came out of intensive care.

“Even though we have been confronted with a deadly disease, there is hope,” said Norma Wallace a postal worker in Hamilton, N.J., who was released from the hospital Monday after more than two weeks of treatment for inhalation anthrax.

Public health officials looked for patterns among the 10 people infected with inhalation anthrax and prepared guidelines for doctors trying to distinguish it from the flu.

A postal facility in yet another government building tested positive for exposure this time inside the Pentagon.

Fed expected to cut interest rates again

WASHINGTON

The economic landscape has turned much darker consumer confidence is plunging, overall output is contracting and the number of Americans losing their jobs is at a 21-year high.

A 10th interest rate cut this year by the Federal Reserve is widely expected today. But the flood of bad economic data has raised fears the central bank”s efforts to jump-start the economy could be overwhelmed, worsening a recession many analysts believe has already begun.

Adding to the economic uncertainty is the threat of more terrorist attacks and rising worries about anthrax contamination in the mail.

“The economy could really spiral downward if terrorism gets worse,” said Sung Won Sohn, chief economist at Wells Fargo in Minneapolis. “That is a scary prospect because we have never faced anything quite like this before.”

In normal times, the Fed”s powerful medicine of lower interest rates would lift the economy out of a recession by boosting demand in interest-sensitive sectors such as housing, autos and big-ticket capital goods.

High court reviews death penalty case

WASHINGTON

Walter Mickens had many things working against him as he went to trial for raping and killing a 17-year-old boy, including substantial physical and circumstantial evidence.

The Supreme Court questioned yesterday whether Mickens also had another thing working against him a lawyer who could not give his all because he had, until days earlier, represented the victim in another case.

The Virginia case is part of the high court”s broadest review of the death penalty in years, and one facet of a question that has troubled at least two Supreme Court justices: Do people facing the death penalty get adequate legal help?

Later this term, the court will also revisit the debate over whether it is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment to execute the mentally retarded.

U.N. says U.S should not have post war role

TEHRAN, Iran

The United Nations should exclude the United States and Afghanistan”s neighbors from any possible post-Taliban peacekeeping mission or risk even more instability across central Asia, Iran”s foreign minister said yesterday.

Such a position risks increasing friction with Washington, which may seek some continued military oversight in Afghanistan if attacks succeed in toppling the Taliban and uprooting Osama bin Laden”s al-Qaida command.

However, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi insisted in an interview with The Associated Press that any U.S. presence on a post-Taliban peacekeeping force “would have a negative impact on the whole region.”

“Central Asian countries are always sensitive to the presence of Americans and American soldiers,” Kharrazi said.

Ortega loses bid for Nicaragua presidency

MANAGUA, Nicaragua

Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega conceded defeat yesterday to the governing party presidential candidate, Enrique Bolanos, who had once been imprisoned by a past Ortega government.

“We accept the mandate of the people and congratulate the Liberal ticket,” Ortega said. He promised to continue working for national reconciliation and a free-market economy, from within the country”s National Assembly, or congress.

With 5.4 percent of the vote counted, the Liberal party”s Bolanos had 61,100 votes or 53 percent, while Ortega of the Sandinista National Liberation Front trailed with 45.3 percent or 52,297, according to Roberto Rivas, the president of the country”s Supreme Electoral Council.

The first results, delayed because of late closing of voting places, also had the Liberal party headed for control of the national assembly.

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