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Federal Sept. 11 Fund to Give Families Bigger Payments

THE WASHINGTON POST -- WASHINGTON

Families of those killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will receive substantially more money under revised guidelines issued Thursday by the administrator of the federal government’s fund to compensate relatives of the victims.

Special Master Kenneth Feinberg announced the changes after weeks of criticism from the victims’ families and public officials who said the initial rules, which were issued in late December, were unfair and would provide the survivors too little money.

Under the new rules, the average award would climb to about $1.85 million from $1.65 million, before life insurance and other death benefits would be deducted. The new rules would pay surviving spouses and dependent children $100,000 each for loss of companionship and other intangibles, double the figure in the initial guidelines. Each family will also receive $250,000 for the pain and suffering of the victim, a figure that did not change.

The fund, estimated at a total cost of $6 billion, is the first of its kind in the aftermath of an American disaster. It was approved by Congress shortly after the attacks as a way to help surviving families and avoid massive lawsuits. The legislation caps the liability of airlines and compensates the injured and families of victims if they agree not to sue.

White House Defends Army Secretary Over Enron Holdings

THE WASHINGTON POST -- WASHINGTON

The White House Thursday defended Army Secretary Thomas White, a former Enron Corp. executive who was rebuked by two senior senators for failing to disclose that he continued to hold financial interests in Enron long after he had pledged to the Senate that he would divest.

White had agreed to dispose of all Enron-related interests by Nov. 30, but according to documents released by the Senate Wednesday, he held on to a financial stake in Enron stock until last week. Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and John Warner, R-Va., the ranking Republican on the panel, said White gave them an “inaccurate representation” of his holdings. They said he violated his Senate ethics agreement.

But White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said White has complied with “all the executive branch requirements” to avoid ethical breaches.

Annan Seeks to Return Weapons Inspectors to Iraq

SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON POST -- UNITED NATIONS

The White House Thursday defended Army Secretary Thomas White, a former Enron Corp. executive who was rebuked by two senior senators for failing to disclose that he continued to hold financial interests in Enron long after he had pledged to the Senate that he would divest.

White had agreed to dispose of all Enron-related interests by Nov. 30, but according to documents released by the Senate Wednesday, he held on to a financial stake in Enron stock until last week. Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and John Warner, R-Va., the ranking Republican on the panel, said White gave them an “inaccurate representation” of his holdings. They said he violated his Senate ethics agreement.

But White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said White has complied with “all the executive branch requirements” to avoid ethical breaches.