House approves hurricane aid, security budget

Sunday, October 10, 2004

WASHINGTON -- The House on Saturday unanimously approved $14.5 billion for hurricane victims and struggling farmers as Congress moved a step closer to showering money on Florida and other pivotal states in the upcoming elections. After weeks of delay over everything from budget cuts to milk subsidies, House-Senate bargainers added the natural disaster aid to a $10 billion military construction measure. With both chambers holding rare weekend sessions to clear bills before Election Day Nov. 2, the House passed the measure 374-0 and recessed for the campaign. The House by 368-0 also passed a bill providing $33 billion for the Homeland Security Department for the new budget year, which began Oct. 1.

Earthquake activity up at Mount St. Helens

MOUNT ST. HELENS, Wash. -- Earthquake activity has increased at Mount St. Helens, but scientists said Saturday there was no reason to raise the volcano's alert level. Scientists said earthquake activity had been low until Friday, indicating molten rock was moving upward with little resistance. By Saturday, however, quakes of magnitude 2.4 were occurring every one to two minutes, they said. A bubble on the south side of the dome has also risen to at least 330 feet since scientists first spotted it on Sept. 30 and is now almost as tall as the dome's 1,000-foot summit, said USGS geologist John Pallister.

Two U.S. couples receive twin surprise in adoptions

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Two families who adopted Chinese children and brought them to separate homes in Arizona and Alabama have discovered that the toddlers are siblings and almost certainly twins. Three-year-olds XiMei and TaoTao were reunited when TaoTao and his adoptive mother arrived Sept. 30 at Tucson International Airport to spend the weekend. XiMei was adopted by a Tucson couple, and an Alabama family adopted TaoTao. The two families found each other when Rose Veneklasen and Jutta Walters linked up on a Web site offering support for families who adopted children from China. As they talked, they realized their children were estimated to be about the same age, were found abandoned the same day, and both had cleft palates. In July, they ordered DNA tests that confirmed with 98 percent accuracy that the toddlers share at least one parent, most likely their mother.

Prosecutors seek to link serial deaths to suspect

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Prosecutors seeking to link a series of killings to one man presented evidence Saturday that the victims had all apparently been raped and had bruises on their hands as if they had tried to fight off their attacker. Experts also testified that biological evidence found at the scene of one of the murders matched Derrick Todd Lee's DNA profile. Prosecutors said they planned to introduce DNA evidence that would connect Lee with three other deaths across southern Louisiana. Lee is on trial for the death of 22-year-old Charlotte Murray Pace, who was found slashed, beaten and stabbed 81 times in May 2002. He has already been convicted of killing another woman.

-- From wire reports

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