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News Briefs

Bush to Name CSX Chairman, CEO Snow as Treasury Secretary


President Bush said Monday that he would nominate the chairman and chief executive of CSX Corp., John W. Snow, as Treasury secretary, putting a corporate leader in charge of the struggling economy as the administration turns its attention toward the 2004 elections.

Snow, a veteran of the Ford administration, brings to the secretary’s high-ceilinged corner office overlooking the White House a resume that crosses an academic’s economic knowledge with the reality of a quarter-century in the business world at CSX, a transportation holding company that grew out of the Chesapeake & Ohio railroad system.

As early as Tuesday, Bush is expected to name a second key economic aide by selecting Stephen Friedman, a former co-chairman of Goldman Sachs, the investment firm, to replace Lawrence B. Lindsey as chairman of the National Economic Council, a White House advisory group.

Lindsey and Treasury Secretary Paul H. O’Neill were dismissed last Friday, submitting their resignations as the White House hurried to spur economic growth before entering the early phases of Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign.

U.S., Canada Agree to Allow Troops To Cross Border


U.S. troops could be deployed to Canada and Canadian troops could cross the border into the United States if the continent were attacked by terrorists who do not respect borders, according to an agreement announced Monday by U.S. and Canadian officials.

“The aim ... is simple: to save lives,” Canadian Defense Minister John McCallum said in announcing the creation of the so-called Planning Group, a joint task force under which Canada and the United States will work on contingency plans to defend North America.

As an example of a case in which U.S. troops might enter Canada, McCallum cited a hypothetical biological attack in Vancouver. U.S. forces in Seattle might be able to respond faster than Canadian forces in Ontario, he said.

Under the agreement, any U.S. troops in Canada would be under Canadian command, while Canadians crossing the border would be under U.S. command.

The State Department announced that officials in the two countries are convinced that cross-border military cooperation is vital to enhancing the security of the continent. Since Sept. 11, 2001, the department said in a statement, “the overall threat to the North American continent from the air, land and sea has greatly increased, including the potential for the use of weapons of mass destruction delivered by unconventional means, by terrorist or others.”

Earth-Orbiting NASA Probes To View Oceans, Space


Three Earth-orbiting NASA probes are being readied for launch, two of them to look downward at ice sheets and ocean winds and the third to peer outward at a gas-filled region in our galactic neighborhood.

The first instrument, called SeaWinds, is scheduled to go aloft at Friday aboard a Japanese spacecraft called ADEOS II. The craft is to be launched from the Tanegashima Space Center on an island off southern Japan.

The SeaWinds instrument is NASA’s latest scatterometer for monitoring the speed and direction of winds over the Earth’s oceans.

“It will cover 90 percent of the oceans in 24 hours and the complete globe in two days,” said Moshe Pniel, scatterometer projects manager for the Sea Winds program.

A scatterometer uses an indirect but highly accurate technique for measuring wind velocity over an ocean. The instrument beams high-frequency microwave pulses at the ocean’s surface and measures the “backscattered,” or echoed, pulses as they bounce back to the satellite. Changes in wind speed and direction cause changes in the roughness of the ocean surface, and the instrument can detect such changes in surface texture, including ripples only a few centimeters high.

Lott Seeks to Clarify Comment Critics Called ‘Racist’


Incoming Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) sought Monday to clarify a statement he made last week at a birthday party for a fellow Republican that critics said reopened some of the country’s old racial wounds.

Speaking at a celebration for centenarian Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina on Thursday, Lott noted that Mississippi had backed Thurmond’s segregationist Dixiecrat presidential candidacy in 1948. It was one of four states, all in the South, that Thurmond won that year.

“We’re proud of it,” Lott then added. “And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.”

That comment, broadcast on C-SPAN, drew immediate condemnation from civil rights leaders and some Democrats and was still rippling through Washington over the weekend.

Former Vice President Al Gore called on Lott to apologize, describing the statement as “racist.” The Rev. Jesse Jackson went a step further, calling on Lott to step down as leader.

For Lott, the reaction to his comments was no small matter. In 1998 and 1999 he was forced to answer questions about his contacts with the Council of Conservative Citizens, a group that fomented controversial rhetoric on race and immigration. Leaders of the group denied that they were racist but acknowledged taking provocative stands.