News In Brief
Energy officials in California were uncertain they would have enough power after a federal directive requiring wholesalers to sell electricity to the state's utilities was to expire at midnight Tuesday. In the past few days California has taken steps to improve the situation, such as seizing certain assets of the cash-strapped utilities and allocating $10 billion to buy power. But a number of wholesale electricity companies still seemed hesitant to stay in the market past the directive. The federal order, which President Bush had extended for two weeks, has come under criticism by other Western states worried about power shortages and soaring costs of their own.
Lawmakers were expected to reintroduce a "patients' rights" bill that would establish such protections as access to emergency care and medical specialists. A controversial provision would expand the right to sue health-maintenance organizations, although a liability cap of $5 million would be set for federal cases. Similar legislation has stalled in previous years, but backers say that the new congressional makeup has given them enough support to move the bill through both the House and Senate.
In opening arguments, prosecutors promised a "chilling" account of the bombings of two US embassies in Africa, while defense attorneys for the four men on trial said they had been targeted unfairly. Each of them has been associated with suspected terrorism-financier Osama bin Laden or his organization, but they have pleaded not guilty to the 1998 events that the US alleges Bin Laden orchestrated. The trial, in New York, is expected to last at least nine months and could include more than 100 witnesses for the prosecution alone. Two of the men could face the death penalty if convicted. The other two could face life in prison.
Chicago area police were trying to fathom the rationale behind the latest workplace shooting, at an engine plant owned by Navistar International. Former employee William Baker, who was to begin a five-month prison term Tuesday for helping steal equipment from the company, gunned down four workers and injured four others before killing himself, authorities said. They said Baker forced his way past a security guard with a golf bag filled with weapons, including an AK-47 assault rifle.
An official US delegation will not attend Haiti's presidential inauguration of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the new ambassador in Port-au-Prince said, adding that he'd be the Bush administration's only representative. The announcement by Brian Dean Curran comes as a blow to Aristide, who is searching for international support following controversial results from last May's parliamentary elections. Curran said the US and Haiti can't have normal ties until the controversy is resolved.
Some parts of the Northeast were almost three feet deep in new snow from a storm that caused hundreds of airline flights to be canceled and cut off power to more than 100,000 customers. At least one traffic death, near Worcester, Mass., was attributed to the weather. Above, Oglethorpe, a Siamese cat, lets out a howl as he clings to the top of snow-covered fence in Easton, Pa.
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