Nation in brief

National Airport reopens

Reagan National Airport reopened Oct. 4, nearly a month after it was abruptly shut down when terrorists struck Washington and New York.

With some of the tightest security in the nation, National began operations with a limited flight schedule.

Airlines scheduled flights through their main hubs to allow passengers more flexibility in their travel planning. United offered its almost hourly flights to Chicago while Delta ferried passengers through its Atlanta and Cincinnati hubs and US Airways through its Charlotte hub.

The US Airways and Delta shuttles New York and Boston resumed operations as well.

Federal officials said air marshals would ride on every plane in and out National. Only flight crews certified to fly to and from National were permitted on planes.

Security checkpoints were particularly tight as Virginia National Guard troops kept a watchful eye over passenger and baggage screening.

Airlines expect to add flights to their schedules as the government allows more planes in and out of the airport.

Reagan National was the last remaining commercial airport to reopen after the terrorist attacks.

Bush calls for $320 million to help Afghans

President George W. Bush said Friday he wants the United States to make good on its promise to deliver $320 million in food and medical supplies to Afghanistan.

The aid could shore up support for the U.S. campaign against the ruling Taliban in Afghanistan and provide needed supplies as winter approaches in the region.

The plans would include military air drops and land distribution of food using mules that travel over mountain passes from Tajikistan.

Some of the supplies would be sent to Pakistan, where more than 1.2 million Afghan refugees live in camps along the border.

Critics of air drops note their ineffectiveness in getting the supplies to the right individuals, often because they end up in the hands of people who need them least.

Unemployment remains high

Job losses after the Sept. 11 attacks added to an already struggling economy, the Labor Department reported Friday.

The unemployment rate held at 4.9 percent as businesses slashed close to 200,000 jobs, the largest cuts in more than a decade.

The numbers released Friday do not include an estimated 200,000 airline layoffs that came after the attacks.

One year ago, unemployment fell to a decade-low 3.9 percent.

Last Wednesday, President Bush recommended a $75 billion economic stimulus package, which he said would revive the ailing job market.

Secret court cranks out warrants

A well-hidden government court is busy cranking out classified warrants for federal agencies like the CIA and FBI.
The seven-member court located in D.C. has been busy since Sept. 11 approving requests for surveillance on suspected terrorists and others connected with the attacks on Washington and New York.

In 1999, the court issued 886 surveillance warrants compared to 484 in 1992.

Members of the court are selected by the chief justice of the United States to serve staggered 7-year terms. The group meets every other week in a secure room at the Justice Department.

The court is a point of controversy for some government officials because of its secrecy. It was created in 1978 by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

-Zeb Eckert

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