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News Briefs

Man With Explosive Device In Luggage Held at Airport

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- LOS ANGELES

An inactive Army National Guardsman was taken into custody at Los Angeles International Airport early Monday after a military explosive device was discovered in his carry-on luggage as he prepared to board a flight to Oakland, federal authorities said.

Jacques Baker, 32, was getting ready to board a United Airlines flight when he was arrested by airport police on suspicion of attempting to carry an explosive on board an aircraft, FBI spokeswoman Laura Bosley said.

The device, which resembled an M-80 firecracker and is typically used to scare off seals from fishing grounds, was detected by security workers as it passed through an X-ray machine about 6:15 a.m.

No flights were affected by the incident at the airport’s Terminal 6, which was closed for just under an hour as a police bomb squad confiscated the device and determined that the area was safe to reopen, said Sgt. Greg Glodery of the Los Angeles Police Department. “The device was determined not to be a threat,” he said. “The fuse hadn’t been lit.”

‘Axis of Evil’ Rhetoric Follows Bush Into Japan

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- TOKYO

President Bush might be on a swing through Asia, but the issue that is shaping his visit, in public anyway, is the “axis of evil.”

Editorials are warning about the dangerous implications for the world of the president’s characterization of Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Demonstrators are protesting the possibility of a new U.S. military campaign. And both Bush and his senior staff increasingly are on the defensive as they are deluged with questions about the administration’s plans for dealing with the three countries.

“We want to resolve all issues peacefully, whether it be Iraq, Iran or North Korea,” the president said Monday when pressed about his intentions by a Japanese reporter at a joint news conference with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Afterward, U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell hastened to tell reporters traveling with the president that America’s allies should not fear “a state of war tomorrow.” He added, “Let’s not swoon.”

Strike Averted as United Airlines Mechanics Reach Tentative Accord

LOS ANGELES TIMES

United Airlines and its mechanics union reached a tentative contract Monday only two days before a threatened strike would have crippled United and badly disrupted U.S. air travel.

United, a unit of UAL Corp., and the International Association of Machinists said the 10,600 mechanics and 2,200 utility workers covered by the negotiations would vote March 5 on the pact, with “no disruption to service for United customers.”

Specific details of the five-year accord weren’t immediately available. But the IAM said it “includes improvements” over a contract proposed by an emergency board established by President Bush in December.

That proposal called for the mechanics -- who haven’t had a pay raise since 1994 -- to get an immediate 37 percent wage increase, among other gains. That would have raised senior mechanics’ wages to $35.14 an hour, the top mechanics’ pay in the industry.

But the mechanics rejected that deal because of objections to deferring retroactive pay they’re due (their last contract technically ended July 2000) and to making unspecified wage concessions United is seeking from all its employees to survive.