Nation briefs 4/14/04

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Poll: Balanced budget preferred over tax cuts

WASHINGTON -- By almost a 2-1 margin, Americans prefer balancing the nation's budget to cutting taxes, according to an Associated Press poll, even though many believe their overall tax burden has risen despite tax cuts over the past three years. Figures released today show for the budget year that began Oct. 1, government spending totaled $1.1 trillion, while revenue came to $850.4 billion.

NASA gives Mars rovers software upgrade

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA said Tuesday it has beamed new software to its twin Mars rovers that should allow the six-wheeled vehicles to travel farther, sleep better and avoid the type of computer glitches that temporarily paralyzed one of them. The software update should make the rest of the mission undertaken by Spirit and Opportunity safer and more productive, NASA said.

Hungarian police unravel plot to kill Israeli leader

BUDAPEST, Hungary -- Hungarian police arrested a man of Palestinian descent Tuesday and suggested he was planning to bomb the country's new Holocaust museum during a visit by Israeli President Moshe Katsav. Two Syrians were detained for questioning. Israeli officials and diplomats said earlier that three Arab suspects were arrested in the Hungarian capital of Buda-pest on suspicion of planning to kill Katsav.

Computer student faces trial on terror charge

BOISE, Idaho -- A University of Idaho graduate student went on trial Tuesday on charges he supported terrorism by running Web sites that recruited militants and raised money for groups promoting violence against the United States. Sami Omar Al-Hussayen, a Saudi national working on his computer science doctoral degree, is charged with three counts of aiding terrorism and additional counts of visa fraud and making false statements.

Saudi police gunned down by militants at checkpoint

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- Militants opened fire on a police checkpoint at dawn Tuesday, killing four police officers and fleeing in security agents' cars, a Saudi security official said. The militants were believed to be the same men involved in an exchange of gunfire Monday that left one police officer dead and set in motion a manhunt for the gunmen, said the official on condition of anonymity.

Sharon seeks approval for disengagement plan

JERUSALEM -- Prime Minister Ariel Sharon left for Washington Tuesday to win U.S. backing for a plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank in exchange for expanding five large West Bank settlement blocs. Sharon disclosed the final element of the plan just hours before his departure, naming for the first time the West Bank areas he plans to keep under Israeli control.

CDC will stockpile flu shots, target children

ATLANTA -- Caught off-guard last year by a flu vaccine shortage, the government will begin stockpiling flu shots for the first time ever and target them toward children. The government plans to spend $80 million over the next two years to pay for the 4 million-dose stockpile, which will be set aside for children up to 18 years old, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Dr. Stephen Cochi.

-- From wire reports

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