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News Briefs

Bush Steps into West Coast Port Dispute, Seeks to End Lockout


As the shutdown of West Coast ports entered its second week and anxiety rose in factories and on farms, President Bush Monday took the first step toward ordering longshoremen back on the job.

After negotiations between shipping companies and dockworkers broke down over the weekend, Bush created a special board of inquiry that will quickly assess the economic impact of the port closures and determine whether the companies’ lockout of the workers poses a serious threat to the nation’s trade, health or safety.

Under the Taft-Hartley Act, the president can then direct Attorney General John Ashcroft to seek an injunction in federal court to end the work stoppage. As early as Tuesday, a judge could order workers and management to resume operation at the ports for 80 days while their dispute is mediated.

More than half of the country’s containerized cargo passes through West Coast ports, and the bulk goods cannot easily be transferred to airplanes, which are much more costly. One widely quoted estimate of economic damage due to the lockout was $2 billion a day, though some economists said the figure was much lower.

Lula Seen as Well-Positioned For Brazil’s Presidential Runoff


On the sands of Ipanema beach, Lucia Araujo beamed as she stood next to her flag bearing the red star of the Workers’ Party, which scored its greatest electoral victory ever Sunday in the first round of Brazil’s presidential vote.

The Workers’ Party candidate, labor leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, failed to win the 50 percent plus one needed to avoid a runoff on Oct. 27. But he trounced his competitors and is seen as well-positioned to return the left to power in Latin America’s largest nation for the first time in four decades.

“We are so close now, so very close,” said Araujo, 37. “We’ve waited 13 years for this, so we can wait another three weeks. We still have to convince a few more people that the time has come for Lula, but finally, the momentum is on our side.”

The final results showed that Lula, a former factory worker who won 46 percent of the vote, will face the ruling party candidate, political centrist Jose Serra, who won 23 percent, in a runoff.

Infected Mosquitoes Found on Maryland Island


A military team of malaria experts has found two pools of malaria-carrying mosquitoes on a Maryland island in the Potomac River, offering the first independent confirmation that the infected insects appear to be in the Washington area, health officials said Monday.

Researchers working on Selden Island in Montgomery County used a different testing method than employed in Loudoun, Va., where a contractor said this month that it had found pools of infected mosquitoes and where two teenagers were diagnosed with the disease over the summer, researchers said.

Robert Wirtz, chief of the Entomology Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said researchers in Atlanta plan to retest the latest results. But Wirtz said the polymerase chain reaction test used in Maryland, in which genetic material is amplified to make it easier to find the malaria parasite’s DNA, has long proven reliable. Agricultural laborers who work daily on Selden Island, which is privately owned, will be contacted Tuesday and could be tested for malaria.