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News Briefs

Canada Agrees To Increase Spending On Its Health Care

By Clifford Krauss

The New York Times TORONTO

Prime Minister Paul Martin gained a major victory for his flagging government early Thursday by reaching an agreement with provincial and territorial leaders that would substantially increase federal spending for Canada’s ailing $60 billion national health care system.

After three days of contentious negotiations, the officials agreed to send $14 billion in federal money over six years to the 13 provinces and territories that administer health care, with guarantees of additional 6 percent annual increases through 2015.

Still, the agreement will fall far short of fulfilling Martin’s upbeat pledges in the recent election campaign to “fix the system for a generation,” since the increases in spending will barely keep up with rising costs. It will also cut into the government’s capacity to manage growing urban problems like homelessness, and to fulfill promises to improve education and rebuild the armed forces, especially if the currently robust economy slows.

But Martin was beaming during his announcement just after midnight, describing the agreement as a new day for the health care system, which for many Canadians is a source of pride and a defining characteristic of the national character.

Inflation In Check, Bond Prices Rise Briskly

By Jonathan Fuerbringer

The New York Times

Bond prices rose sharply Tuesday, sending the yield on the Treasury’s 10-year note to its lowest level since the beginning of April.

The rally followed a government report that showed that inflation was well restrained in August. In addition, a revision in a Merrill Lynch forecast said that Federal Reserve policy-makers would move more slowly in raising interest rates than previously forecast. A regional economic index for Philadelphia also dropped much more than expected.

The yield on the 10-year note dropped to 4.08 percent, down from 4.16 percent Wednesday, its lowest since it reached 3.88 percent on April 1. The yield on the 10-year note has fallen almost steadily since June 14, when it reached its 2004 high of 4.87 percent. In the stock market, the three main gauges rose slightly.

That peak in June for the yield on the 10-year note came not long after the price of crude oil passed $40 a barrel. And while the initial response to rising oil prices was fear of higher inflation, more recently bond investors have apparently concluded that the surge in the price of oil is more likely to slow economic growth than to push other prices higher.

A lack of inflationary fears and expectations of slower growth have combined to pull longer-term interest rates sharply lower.

Times Reporter Ordered To Testify In Leak Case

By Robert Pear and Adam Liptak

The New York Times

A federal district judge in Washington has ordered a reporter for The New York Times to testify before a grand jury investigating the disclosure of the identity of a covert CIA officer.

In a decision dated Sept. 9 and released on Thursday, the judge, Thomas F. Hogan, said the reporter, Judith Miller, must describe any conversations she had with “a specified executive branch official” as “part of the ongoing investigation of the potentially illegal disclosure of the identity of CIA official Valerie Plame.”

George Freeman, assistant general counsel of The New York Times Co., said: “We regret that Judge Hogan has denied our motion to quash the subpoena on Judy Miller seeking that she reveal her confidential sources. Journalists should not be forced to testify about their confidential sources when they have done nothing more than aggressively gather news about government actions.”

Hogan, the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, did not say what penalty Miller might face if she refused to provide the testimony sought by a special prosecutor investigating the disclosure of Plame’s identity.

“This court holds that Miller has no privilege, based in the First Amendment or common law, qualified or otherwise, excusing her from testifying before the grand jury in this matter,” Hogan wrote.

Republicans Propose More Terror Funding Where It’s Needed

By Raymond Hernandez

The New York Times WASHINGTON

In a significant shift, leading Republicans in Congress are seeking to overhaul the way the federal government distributes anti-terrorism aid, with an eye toward establishing a system that gives more money to New York City and other localities considered at higher risk of terrorist attack.

The changes being contemplated seek to address mounting criticism that members of Congress have been so intent on grabbing shares of security money for their own districts that not enough is left for cities where the threat is believed to be greatest.

The most recent -- and potentially embarrassing -- round of criticism came from members of the 9/11 commission, who issued a report in July that, among other things, pointedly called on Congress to begin distributing anti-terrorism money on the basis of threat and risk, not pork-barrel politics.

It remains unclear how the major urban areas will ultimately fare as Congress prepares to enact yet another round of spending for domestic security in the coming weeks. In fact, a series of proposed changes to the current financing formula have already begun to meet with some resistance from lawmakers from other regions of the country who insist on money for their districts, regardless of known threats or vulnerabilities, according to congressional officials monitoring the debate.