No boost in oil production, OPEC says

VIENNA, Austria

OPEC members agreed yesterday to stick with their current quotas for crude oil production but pledged to boost output in the future to keep supplies flowing in case of any serious disruption.

Representatives of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries ruled out formally raising output now as a way of reassuring nervous markets before any U.S.-led attack on Iraq.

However, they took extreme care not to mention such a conflict as a likely source of disruption, apparently afraid of seeming to support such a war by preparing to respond to its possible impact on markets.

Despite sharply higher oil prices, OPEC members argued that the world has enough crude to meet demand and blamed Middle East tensions for causing fears of a possible shortage.

“We are studying the market and keeping abreast of it,” Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali Naimi told reporters.

“There is no shortage of supply, the market is in balance, there is plenty of oil and there is a commitment to do our best within our capabilities, which we think are enough to satisfy any possible 3/8 shortage in the market for whatever reason.”

S. Korea requests U.S. military intervention

SEOUL, South Korea

South Korea’s president yesterday called for a stronger alliance with the United States, a day after North Korea test-fired a cruise missile into the Sea of Japan.

Roh Moo-hyun’s comments also came after Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said last week that he wants U.S. troops stationed near the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea to be moved farther away from the zone, shifted to other countries or brought home.

“The staunch Korea-U.S. combined defense arrangement is greatly contributing to our national security,” Roh said in a speech at the Korean Military Academy. “The solid (South Korea)-U.S. alliance should be maintained even more so.”

Roh urged South Koreans not to worry about the redeployment plan, calling it “nothing new at all.” He said the two allies will consult closely with each other on reconfiguring U.S. military presence.

Tensions over North Korea’s nuclear programs intensified Monday when North Korea test-fired a second cruise missile off North Korea’s east coast in two weeks.

Reps. fail to honor term limit pledges


At least eight lawmakers are planning to run for re-election next year despite pledges to leave the House of Representatives at the end of 2004.

Will voters make them pay? Not if recent elections are any guide.

No member of Congress has lost re-election for reneging on a term-limit promise – in fact, at least five have won.

“A few may accuse me of breaking a pledge. That is their prerogative,” said Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.), who cited unfinished work in Congress as her reason for seeking a fourth full term next year.

Absent are other questions about a candidate’s character. Such changes of heart haven’t seemed to make much difference in voter turnout or opinions.

“It’s never been a voting issue,” said Mark Petracca, a political science professor at the University of California, Irvine. and a supporter of term limits.

Al-Qaida member detained indenitely


A former Chicago gang member accused of plotting with al-Qaida to detonate a “dirty” bomb of radioactive material can meet with defense lawyers despite government concerns, a judge ruled yesterday.

U.S. District Judge Michael Mukasey rejected the government’s plea to reverse his decision last year allowing lawyers to consult with Jose Padilla, 31, who was designated an enemy combatant by the White House last summer.

Before Padilla can see a lawyer for the first time since June, ground rules have to be worked out between the sides and possibly the judge. A hearing was set for the end of the month.

Enemy combatants are held without charge or trial and are not allowed to see lawyers.

Musicians, producers settle strike in NYC


After a four-day walkout that cost the city $10 million, Broadway musicians settled the first strike on the Great White Way in nearly 30 years yesterday by agreeing with Broadway producers to cut the number of orchestra players a show must hire.

The breakthrough came during an all-night negotiating session set up by Mayor Michael Bloomberg as the walkout by about 325 musicians began costing theaters, restaurants and hotels vital tourism dollars in a city already ailing financially.

“Broadway is no longer dark,” Bloomberg said in announcing the agreement that allowed 18 musicals, including such current Broadway hits as “The Producers,” “The Lion King,” “Mamma Mia!” and “Hairspray,” to resume yesterday night.

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