Friday, May 23, 2003

AP Top News at 1:58 p.m. EDT 

From: spliffslips

AP Top News at 1:58 p.m. EDT

By Associated Press

May 23, 2003, 1:59 PM EDT

Congress Approves $330B in Tax Cuts

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Congress gave its final approval Friday to $330 billion in new tax cuts for families, investors and businesses, handing President Bush a victory despite sharply curtailing his plan for lifting the economy from its knees. The Republican-led Senate approved the measure by 51-50, with Vice President Dick Cheney casting the decisive vote in the narrowly divided chamber. Two hours after midnight, the GOP-run House had used a 231-200 vote to approve the legislation, which also included $20 billion in aid for cash-hungry states. Bush was poised to sign the bill.

Sharon Accepts U.S.-Backed Peace Plan

JERUSALEM (AP) -- After weeks of hesitation, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told the United States on Friday that he accepts a U.S.-backed peace plan that would create a Palestinian state within three years. Sharon said he will present the plan to his Cabinet for approval as early as Sunday. Sharon's statement came just hours after the Bush administration pledged to "fully and seriously" address Israel's concerns about the plan -- though Secretary of State Colin Powell said Washington did not intend to change the road map.

Congress Passes Jobless Benefits Bill

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Congress sent President Bush legislation Friday extending a program that provides 13 weeks of emergency unemployment benefits to job-hunters who have used up their state aid. The Senate vote on the House-passed bill came quickly and without debate or a roll call, with senators facing adjournment later today for a weeklong holiday recess.

Bush May Meet With Mideast Leaders

CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) -- President Bush said Friday he will consider meeting with the Palestinian and Israeli prime ministers if it will help them move toward creating a Palestinian state. "I understand it's going to be difficult to achieve peace. But I believe it can happen," Bush told reporters after meeting at his ranch with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Bush Warns North Korea on Nuke Weapons

CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) -- President Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Friday that "tougher measures" will be warranted against North Korea if it escalates nuclear tensions while asserting confidence that diplomatic tactics will prevail. Bush said he and the Japanese leader view the nuclear crisis in "exactly the same way" -- an absolute unwillingness to let Pyongyang become a nuclear-armed power.

Algerian Earthquake Death Toll Tops 1,600

BOUMERDES, Algeria (AP) -- Bodies wrapped in blankets and plastic bags piled up in morgues Friday as the death toll from Algeria's earthquake topped 1,600, with more than 7,000 injured. Weary volunteers, their faces caked with cement dust and sweat, climbed huge mounds of smashed concrete looking for more victims, though rescuers saw little chance of finding survivors two days after the quake.

U.S. Says Iraqi Military Is Dissolved

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Iraq's military and the security organizations that supported Saddam Hussein's regime have been officially dissolved, and a new defense force "representative of all Iraqis" will be set up to replace them, the U.S. civil administrator announced Friday. Also Friday, U.S. defense officials said American troops at a checkpoint near the Syrian border confiscated what they believe may be gold bars worth up to $500 million.

Dow Gains 11, Nasdaq Up 3 Before Holiday

NEW YORK (AP) -- Investors wary of making major commitments ahead of the long weekend traded cautiously Friday, nudging stocks moderately higher after a lower start. There was also a lack of economic or earnings news to otherwise guide investors. In early afternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 11.28, or 0.1 percent, at 8,605.30, having gained 77.59 on Thursday. The market's broader gauges were also higher. The Nasdaq composite index rose 3.63, or 0.2 percent, to 1,511.18. The Standard & Poor's 500 index advanced 1.45, or 0.2 percent, to 933.32.

Sorenstam to Try and Make Cut at Colonial

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- Annika Sorenstam has already made history. Now she's trying to make the cut. Still, no matter what happens Friday in the second round of the Colonial, the first woman to play in a PGA Tour event in 58 years has already accomplished most of what she set out to do. "Personally, I came here to test myself. I'm very proud of the way I was focusing and the way I made decisions and stuck to them," Sorenstam said after her opening 71 Thursday. "That's why I'm here. I wanted to see if I could do it. That's all that matters to me."

Senators, Devils Set for Game 7 Showdown

OTTAWA (AP) -- New Jersey Devils coach Pat Burns tried to put a little added pressure on the Ottawa Senators. "It's not us anymore," Burns said Thursday. "They're going back home and they have to win at home." Ottawa has rallied from a 3-1 deficit to force a deciding Game 7 Friday night in the Eastern Conference finals, with the winner to face the well-rested Anaheim Mighty Ducks in the Stanley Cup finals. New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur called it a toss-up.

Copyright (c) 2003, The Associated Press


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