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News Briefs

Bush Revives Privatization Idea


President Bush Thursday reiterated his plan to allow Americans to invest some of their Social Security taxes in the stock market.

Bush’s desire to privatize elements of the social security system -- which faded from the presidential agenda in recent months as Enron and the struggling economy took the spotlight -- has been widely criticized by Democrats.

Central to the debate is the projection that Social Security will have to start tapping its trust fund to pay benefits in 2016. In that year its likely a flood of retiring baby boomer will push the demand for benefits above the amount collected in Social Security payroll taxes.

Thursday the president, speaking before the Labor Department’s National Summit on Retirement Savings, said allowing people to invest part of their Social Security taxes in the stock market would give them far more funds at retirement.

“Because there will be an expanding number of retirees for Social Security to support in the future, we must apply the power of savings, investing and compound interest to the challenges of Social Security by introducing personal retirement accounts into the system,” he said.

The goal of retirement summit is to find ways to encourage people of all ages to put away money for their post-work years.

Democrats Raise Questions About U.S. War Plans


Leading Democrats Thursday cautiously questioned President Bush’s plans to further the war on terrorism trying to balance support with skepticism over the amount of military expansion necessary to prosecute that war.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said there seems to be “expansion without clear direction” of the war. He told reporters it would not “do anybody any good to second-guess what has been done to date. I think it has been successful. But I think the jury is still out about future success.”

Daschle added that before Congress commits additional resources to the war, “I think we need to have a clearer understanding of what the direction will be.” And he said the war will not be a success until Osama bin Laden and other leaders of al-Qaida are found.

Daschle’s comments came on the heels of criticism from Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., who pointedly asked administration defense officials about their plans for continuing or ending the war.

Plane Lands Safely After Passenger Warning


An Air India jet landed safely at Kennedy Airport Thursday afternoon after fighter jets shadowed the plane as it crossed the Atlantic because of concerns about a suspicious passenger, officials said.

There were no problems on board the Boeing 747, sources said, but concerns over a passenger whose name may have appeared on a watch list circulated by law enforcement prompted the military presence. When the plane landed at 4:45 p.m., FBI officials began interviewing passengers.

Passengers, who were unaware of the fighter jets, said a man and a woman traveling together were detained after the plane arrived in New York. Several uniformed officers walked to the seat where the two were sitting and escorted them off the plane. The passengers were told only that it was a security issue.

The couple, both in their late 20s or early 30s, were expected to be released later, an airport official said.