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Nation digest 05/23/04

Sunday, May 23, 2004

SBC, union still talking as workers picket

SAN ANTONIO -- Picketers filled the sidewalk in front of SBC Communications Inc.'s downtown headquarters Saturday in the second day of a four-day strike against SBC over health-care and job security issues. Meanwhile, negotiators for SBC and the union were back at the bargaining table Saturday to try to make headway on a new contract for 100,000 workers in 13 states where San Antonio-based SBC is the dominant local phone provider. Since early Friday their jobs as operators, clerical workers, linemen and service representatives have been filled by 40,000 SBC managers, contract workers and retirees.

Experts say new trial for Stewart not a lock

NEW YORK -- If nothing else, the perjury indictment against a government witness in the Martha Stewart trial should provide the homemaking maven with grounds for an appeal -- but it doesn't guarantee a retrial, legal experts said Saturday. "It's a substantial issue, and she had no other substantial issues for an appeal," said defense lawyer Edward Hayes, a Court TV commentator. Fellow defense lawyer Timothy M. Donohue agreed, but suggested it was not a clear-cut winner. The accusation Friday by federal prosecutors that Secret Service ink expert Larry Stewart lied on the witness stand is probably more beneficial for Stewart's co-defendant, Peter Bacanovic, than for her, Hayes said. The pair were convicted March 5 of lying to federal authorities about a December 2001 stock sale.

Thousands without power after storms

BRADGATE, Iowa -- Houses lay crumpled to their foundations and hundreds of thousands of people were without power Saturday after storms tore through the Midwest, including a tornado that leveled this tiny Iowa town. Gov. Tom Vilsack took a walking tour of Bradgate, population 100, in northwestern Iowa. Fifteen people in Bradgate and nearby Rolfe were injured, though none seriously, in the Friday night tornado. While Iowa was hardest hit, severe weather Friday and Saturday knocked out power through parts of West Virginia, Nebraska, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Michigan authorities blamed three deaths on the storm. Hundreds of thousands of customers lost power after the storms, and many were not expected to get it back until today.

Bush suffers cuts, bruises while biking

CRAWFORD, Texas -- President Bush suffered cuts and bruises early Saturday afternoon when he fell while mountain biking on his ranch, White House spokesman Trent Duffy said. Bush was on the 16th mile of a 17-mile ride when he fell, Duffy said. The Secret Service offered to drive Bush back to the house, but he declined and finished the ride. Duffy said he didn't know exactly how the accident happened. Bush left Crawford shortly after the bike mishap for Austin, where he was attending a private party of his daughter, Jenna, who graduated from the University of Texas earlier in the day.

-- From wire reports


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