President of American Red Cross resigns

Saturday, October 27, 2001

WASHINGTON -- American Red Cross President Bernadine Healy, one of the few medical doctors to lead the influential and popular charity, is resigning her post at year's end after two years on the job.

Saying her decision was difficult, Healy said she would retire effective Dec. 31.

Healy gave no official reason for leaving, but alluded to two of the many controversies that have filled her tenure, including Israel's exclusion from full membership of the International Red Cross and how to spend the more than $450 million raised to help victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Russian president signs law permitting land sales

MOSCOW -- Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a long-awaited land code Friday, striking a blow at the restrictions on private property that have hampered market-oriented economic reform and discouraged foreign investment for a decade.

The move, coming against the backdrop of an improving economy, sent a strong signal to business and political leaders who are meeting next week in Moscow for a World Economic Forum session.

However, the new code only provides for limited sales of nonagricultural land, affecting at most 10 percent of land in the nation, according to official estimates.

New-home sales fall to lowest level in a year

WASHINGTON -- Wary about making big financial commitments, Americans pushed sales of new homes in September down to their lowest point in a year.

New-home sales dropped 1.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 864,000, the lowest level since August 2000, when a rate of 839,000 homes were sold, the Commerce Department reported Friday.

Last month's drop came on top of a 2.9 percent decline in new-home sales in August, according to revised figures. The government had previously reported that sales rose 0.6 percent.

North Korea says no interest in U.S. dialogue

SEOUL, South Korea -- North Korea said Friday it is no longer interested in dialogue with the United States because of what it described as President Bush's "vicious, hostile policy" toward the communist state.

State-run media in Pyongyang also demanded an apology from Bush for criticizing Kim Jong Il, North Korea's totalitarian leader.

Last week, Bush said he was disappointed in Kim for not responding positively to a U.S. offer in June to resume talks, and described the North Korean as "so suspicious, so secretive."

Sabreliner settles 1996 crash with $500,000

MIAMI -- The owner of a defunct jet repair company blamed for the 1996 ValuJet crash has agreed to spend $500,000 on aviation safety under a plea bargain that drops state murder charges against its subsidiary, prosecutors said Friday.

Sabreliner Corp., the parent firm of SabreTech and headquartered in St. Louis, Mo., is not legally liable but would make the payment as a donation -- the first money paid for SabreTech's role in the crash that killed 110 people.

SabreTech, ValuJet's maintenance contractor, was convicted of hazardous materials violations for improperly packaging explosive-tipped oxygen generators and delivering them to Flight 592. A cargo fire quickly spread, and the Miami-Atlanta flight crashed in the Everglades on May 11, 1996.

--From wire reports

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