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Washington in brief

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 11, 2002

Survey finds bad bacteria in many chickens

WASHINGTON -- A consumer magazine says it found harmful bacteria, much of it drug-resistant, in almost half the chickens it bought from stores nationwide.

The bacterium campylobacter, which can cause food poisoning, was found in 42 percent of 484 fresh broiler chickens tested for a survey in the January issue of Consumer Reports. The magazine said Tuesday that 12 percent of the chickens had salmonella, another bacterium. Both bugs can cause diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain and sometimes death.

Taxes from nominee's rail company questioned

CSX Corp, the big railroad company headed by Treasury Secretary-designate John Snow, paid no federal income taxes during at least two of the last four years despite recording more than $1-billion in pretax profits.

Over the same four-year period, the company gave Snow $36-million in salary, bonuses, stock and options and forgave a $24-million loan so he wouldn't lose money along with other shareholders as the company's stock price declined.

Although CSX's tax and compensation practices appear to be legal, these and other aspects of Snow's career suggest the man President Bush has chosen to head his revamped economic team may have plenty of explaining to do before he takes the oath of office.

Airline, FAA blamed for fatal 2000 crash

Lax government oversight and shoddy maintenance practices by Alaska Airlines led to the crash of an airliner off the California coast that killed all 88 people aboard, investigators ruled Tuesday.

The National Transportation Safety Board said insufficient lubrication caused excessive wear and the eventual failure of the jet's jackscrew, a tail component that helps move the plane's stabilizer and sets the angle of flight.

While the board said Alaska Airlines was primarily to blame for the Jan. 31, 2000, crash, it also said the Federal Aviation Administration bore some responsibility by allowing Alaska Airlines to extend the intervals for greasing tail components and inspecting them for wear. The increased time between checks led to the lubrication problem, investigators said.

In elections . . .

COLORADO: Republican Bob Beauprez won Colorado's new House seat by just 121 votes Tuesday after a recount to settle the nation's last undecided congressional race. Beauprez received 81,789 votes and Democrat Mike Feeley ended up with 81,668 votes in the suburban Denver district.

The GOP victory means the new breakdown of the House will be 229 Republicans and 204 Democrats, with one independent and a seat in Hawaii still to be determined.

LOUISIANA: A check of voting machines Tuesday in a close Louisiana congressional race almost doubled the margin of victory for Democrat Rodney Alexander over Republican Lee Fletcher. The unofficial tally, which will probably be certified Thursday, showed Alexander with 86,718 votes and Fletcher with 85,744 -- a margin of 974 votes. The tally immediately after Saturday's election showed Alexander winning by 518 votes, 85,720 to 85,202.

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