Nation/world digest 10/23/04

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Bush signs $136 billion tax-cut legislation

WASHINGTON -- President Bush showered $136 billion in new tax breaks on businesses, farmers and other groups Friday, quietly signing the most sweeping rewrite of corporate tax law in nearly two decades. Though the legislation provides new tax breaks, Congress' Joint Committee on Taxation says it has no impact on the deficit because it also closes corporate tax loopholes and repeals export subsidies. Opponents disagree, saying it will swell the nation's budget deficit with a massive giveaway that will reward multinational companies that move jobs overseas. The centerpiece of the tax legislation is $76.5 billion in new tax relief for the battered manufacturing sector, which has lost 2.7 million jobs over the past four years. The original purpose for the legislation was to repeal a $5 billion annual tax break provided to American exporters that was ruled illegal by the Geneva-based World Trade Organization.

Kyoto Protocol leaps key hurdle in Russia

MOSCOW -- Russia's lower house of parliament ratified the Kyoto Protocol on cutting greenhouse gases Friday. Russia's ratification is the final acceptance needed among major industrial countries after the treaty was rejected by the United States. The pact will apply only to nations that ratify it. Despite earlier protests from top Russian officials that the pact would hobble Russia's economy, the State Duma voted 334-73 vote to ratify the treaty, which gives leading industrial nations eight years to cut collective emissions of six greenhouse gases to 5.2 percent below 1990 levels. The treaty still must be approved by Russia's upper house and President Vladimir Putin, which is all but certain.

Death toll rises in China coal mine explosion

XINMI, China -- Rescue workers pulled more bodies Friday from a mine shaft choked with poison gas at the scene of China's worst mining accident of 2004. At least 66 workers were killed in a blast at Daping Mine in the central Chinese province of Henan. Eighty-two others were missing Friday night and feared dead. The explosion tore through the shaft Wednesday as 446 miners were working, the official Xinhua Agency said.

Congress gives doses of flu vaccine to D.C.

WASHINGTON -- Seeking to address complaints of preferential treatment, Republican congressional leaders said Friday that 3,000 doses of flu vaccine intended for lawmakers, aides and other Capitol employees would instead be given to Washington's municipal health department and hospitals. The new shipment of vaccine this week had been ordered before federal officials announced that 48 million doses of flu vaccine made by Chiron Corp., roughly half the anticipated supply, would not be available this year, said John Feehrey, spokesman for Speaker J. Dennis Hastert.

-- From wire reports

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