Federal Pay Raise

Advances in House

The House yesterday passed a funding bill that provides a 3.5 percent pay increase for 1.8 million federal workers but blocks Bush administration rules for contracting some government functions to private companies.

Before the 397 to 12 vote on the annual Transportation and Treasury department appropriations in fiscal 2005, the House defied the White House by approving several amendments the administration opposed.

One eliminates a two-year grace period during which Mexican trucks entering the United States are not subject to most U.S. safety regulations. A second, approved by voice vote, blocked enforcement of U.S. laws that prevent American students from studying in Cuba.

Sulfur Dioxide Emissions

Rose 4% Last Year

Emissions of sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain, rose 4 percent in 2003 but probably will not compromise long-term air quality goals, the government reported.

Coal-fired power plants were the main source of the 10.6 million tons of sulfur dioxide. That total compared with 10.2 million tons in 2002 and reverted to the level from 2001.

Nonetheless, pollution from sulfur dioxide has dropped significantly over the past two decades, from 17.3 million tons in 1980 to 11.2 million tons in 2000, the year before President Bush took office. The total is within striking distance of lawmakers' goal of cutting such emissions to 8.95 million tons by 2010, about half of the amount from 1980.

Fired FBI Linguist

Sues Inspector General

An FBI contract linguist who alleged security lapses in the bureau's translator program sued the Justice Department to compel its inspector general to disclose results of an investigation into her firing.

The department's inspector general, Glenn A. Fine, has said he would work toward releasing parts of the investigation involving Sibel Edmonds, who was fired in April 2002. The report, classified "Secret," has circulated among the FBI, Justice Department, the Sept. 11 commission and some lawmakers on oversight committees.

Edmonds said she was fired after complaining to FBI managers about wiretap translations and practices.

U.S. Settles Suit With

Breast Implant Makers

Closing one more chapter in the saga of silicone breast implants, the government said it has settled a lawsuit against several makers of the controversial implants.

The $11.2 million settlement, taken from a 1995 settlement of more than $1 billion, will reimburse Medicare for caring for patients with illnesses related to silicone implants.

The companies involved in the settlement include Baxter Healthcare Corp., Baxter International Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., 3M Co., Union Carbide Chemical & Plastics Co., and Union Carbide Corp., according to a Justice Department statement.

-- Compiled from reports

by staff writer Dan Morgan

and news services