Nation digest 11/19

Two Senate buildings to reopen today

WASHINGTON -- Two of the Senate office buildings closed for anthrax testing are set to reopen for business, but a third building will remain shut, officials said Sunday.

Lt. Dan Nichols of the Capitol Police said the Dirksen and Russell buildings would reopen at 8 a.m. today. The Hart Senate Office Building, shut last month when an anthrax-tainted letter was found in the office of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., will remain closed.

The Dirksen and Russell buildings were closed Saturday after a letter mailed to Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., was discovered in the 280 barrels of mail quarantined after the contaminated Daschle letter was opened.

Eight accused in Spain in Sept. 11 attacks

MADRID, Spain -- A Spanish magistrate accused eight men of involvement in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States on Sunday, ordering them jailed and charging them with belonging to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network.

The suspects "were directly linked to the preparation and carrying out of the attacks," Judge Baltasar Garzon said in his jailing order.

Garzon, an investigative judge, formally charged the men with membership in a terrorist organization -- al-Qaida -- and with document falsification, robbery and weapons possession.

States tighten rules to get driver's licenses

MIAMI -- Several states are changing the rules for obtaining drivers' licenses, particularly for foreign nationals, because of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Before the attacks, the nation's main form of identification was issued according to loosely enforced standards set by each state. Law enforcement officials say the 19 terror hijackers used drivers' licenses to open bank accounts and rent cars and apartments.

Now, Florida, North Carolina, Michigan and others are tightening regulations, and some are considering new licenses that would include biometric data such as fingerprints or retinal patterns.

Some also are considering linking the states' computer networks, elevating the licenses into de facto national ID cards.

U.S. missile cruiser monitors flights, ships

ABOARD THE USS VELLA GULF -- Navy Lt. Joe Ervin monitors the scores of glowing dots moving across his radar screen, which represent all kinds of aircraft flying above the Arabian Sea, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

During the hours of his watch aboard the USS Vella Gulf, it's Ervin's job to know the location of each warplane flying sorties from U.S. aircraft carriers floating in the northern Arabian Sea.

"It can be stressful, especially when you stand quite a few watches. So far, it's been a pretty smooth operation," said Ervin of Norfolk, Va.

The Vella Gulf Spy 1 radar system tracks the 70 to 100 aircraft of the U.S.-led coalition as they fly bombing or surveillance missions over Afghanistan as part of the response to the terror attacks on the United States.

Philippine terrorist woes seem far from ended

BALOBO, Philippines -- While the United States wages war in Afghanistan, the Philippines is fighting its own terrorist enemy and claiming progress.

Now, as part of its global campaign against terrorism, Washington is ready to provide military training and equipment to help its longtime ally step up efforts to crush the small Abu Sayyaf movement, which has been linked to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network.

Details of the aid are expected to emerge after President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo meets with President Bush at the White House on Tuesday.

The militant Muslims of Abu Sayyaf have been tied to a string of killings, kidnappings, bombings and other violence in the restive southern Philippines, which is a crushingly poor home for about 5 million Muslims in the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country.

-- From wire reports

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