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News Briefs

Chicago Garbage Strike Continues


Less than two days after 3,300 city and suburban trash haulers went on strike, garbage bins here are already beginning to overflow, leaving residents and business owners struggling to keep their waste vermin-free.

After about three months of negotiations, contract talks between Teamsters Local 731 and 301, and the Chicago Area Refuse Haulers Association, which represents the 17 refuse companies, broke down in a dispute over wages and benefits at about 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday. The negotiations resumed Thursday morning but no agreement had been reached by late in the evening.

The Teamsters are asking for a minimum wage increase of $2 an hour for each of the next three years. The 17 waste hauling companies are offering an average increase of 75 cents a year for each of the next five years.

William J. Plunkett, a spokesman for the waste hauling companies, said, “We’ve been at it since mid-morning, on and off. We are making progress. Whether we will reach an agreement tonight I can’t say, but good faith bargaining is going on.”

Emotional Debate Precedes Senate’s Approval of Nomination


The Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines on Thursday to approve the judicial nomination of Charles W. Pickering, Sr., and send it to the full Senate, a move that came as no surprise.

Pickering, a federal trial judge in Hattiesburg, Miss., was first nominated to the federal appeals court by President Bush in 2001, but was defeated along party lines when Democrats who then controlled the committee said he had a long history of racial insensitivity. Senate Republicans charged that he had been treated shabbily and Bush renominated him to the same post after the Republicans regained control.

The committee session on Thursday was, at its most elemental, a replay of the complicated debate about whether and how far a white Mississippi political figure had evolved in terms of racial attitude over four decades. But the usual fragile shell of courtesy that surrounds such events had shattered.

Before the straight party-line vote of 10-9 in favor of the nomination, there were several heated arguments and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a freshman Republican, became moist-eyed when he accused the Democrats of irresponsibly describing Pickering with the “worst possible epithet for a Southern white man,” by calling him a racist.

Military Trains to Shoot Down Hijacked Airliners


The U.S. military practices how to shoot down hijacked commercial airliners as often as three to four times a week, honing its defenses against terrorist attacks on U.S. cities, a senior general said on Thursday.

In some of the drills, which began after the attacks of Sept. 11 revealed shortcomings in the military’s readiness to react, the North American Aerospace Defense Command has rented commercial jets, loaded them with scores of military volunteers and carried out mock hijackings up to the point where airborne Air Force fighter pilots would fire air-to-air missiles.

“We exercise this several times a week whether it’s an airplane shooting down an airplane, or air defenses in the national capital area,” the officer, Gen. Ralph E. Eberhart of the Air Force.