House avoids confrontation with Bush


Top Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee backed away yesterday from a veto confrontation with President Bush and said they would support his effort to hold anti-terrorism spending to $40 billion this year.

A day after Bush threatened the first veto of his presidency during a White House meeting with congressional leaders, committee Chairman Bill Young (R-Fla.) said he would oppose any additional anti-terror funds when his panel writes a defense spending bill next Tuesday.

And Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) who chairs the Appropriations defense subcommittee, said he was dropping plans to propose adding $12 billion in emergency money for the Pentagon. Lewis, who for weeks has insisted that more money is needed for the war in Afghanistan, was among those who attended the session with Bush.

“I woke up at 3:30 in the morning and I said to myself, “I don”t want to put the country through an exercise that would put us off the track,””Lewis said in an interview, referring to the country”s sense of unity.

Democrats and some Republicans have said billions more are needed this year for the FBI, public health, border and airport security, the military and other programs.

Tire company pays $41.5 million settlement


Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. will pay $41.5 million in a settlement to head off lawsuits by states over defective tires the company recalled more than a year ago.

Each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands will get $500,000, according to a copy of the settlement obtained by The Associated Press. There are no restrictions on how the money can be spent.

Nashville, Tenn.-based Bridgestone/Firestone will spend $5 million on a consumer education campaign and $10 million to reimburse attorneys” fees for the states.

Bridgestone/Firestone announced a recall of 6.5 million ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires on Aug. 9, 2000, after receiving reports that some tires suddenly failed. Since then, federal investigators have documented 271 deaths from thousands of accidents involving the tires.

Many of the accidents involved rollovers of the Ford Explorer, the world”s best-selling sport utility vehicle. The Wilderness AT tires came as standard equipment.

Attorneys general have been investigating whether Bridgestone/Firestone and Ford were aware of problems with the tires long before the recall was announced.

Israeli occupation ends after 3 weeks


Israel ended its three-week occupation of Ramallah, the Palestinian government and commercial center, yesterday as part of a gradual pullout from parts of six West Bank towns it seized last month.

Elsewhere, two Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, including a West Bank man accused in the death of a Jewish settler. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said the man was responsible for several deadly attacks on Israelis and was “eliminated” by undercover troops.

In the Ramallah pullout, Israeli tanks, jeeps and armored personnel carriers drove out of the northern neighborhoods before dawn.

The convoy passed several Palestinians, who stood in the heavy rain holding a sign with an arrow and the words: “Tel Aviv that way, and stay out.”

Sailor falls off aircraft carrier in Arabian Sea


A search was under way last night for a U.S. sailor who fell overboard from an aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea.

The sailor fell from the USS Kitty Hawk at 7:22 a.m. EST and a search and rescue operation was begun immediately, said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Don Sewell. Repeated helicopter searches and several dives found no sign of the sailor.

“We don”t know how long the search is going to continue at this point,” Sewell said late last night. “But we are still proceeding as though the sailor is alive.”

It was not known how the sailor fell overboard, Sewell said. The sailor was not identified because his family had not yet been notified.

The USS Kitty Hawk is part of a three-ship battle group being used as a helicopter base for special operations troops as part of the U.S. effort in Afghanistan.

Government to drop pizza regulations


Hold the pepperoni. The government wants to drop decades-old rules that dictate the ingredients of frozen pizzas, down to how much meat, sausage or pepperoni must be in the toppings.

Kraft and other pizza makers say the rules prevent them from lowering the fat content or trying out new sauces or ethnic styles.

Under the Agriculture Department”s regulations, a meat pizza must have a crust, cheese, a tomato-based sauce and at least 10 percent to 12 percent meat by weight. A 12-inch pepperoni would typically have about 20 pepperoni slices.

The rules, known as standards of identity, were intended in part to promote consumption of meat and cheese, said consumer advocate Carol Tucker Foreman, who oversaw the department”s food regulation during the Carter administration. “That doesn”t make sense in today”s society,” she said.

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