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News briefs for Sept. 26

Meltdown deal reached in principle

WASHINGTON — President Bush and the two men fighting to succeed him joined forces Thursday at a historic White House meeting on a multibillion-dollar Wall Street bailout plan, aiming to stave off a national economic disaster. Key members of Congress said they had struck a deal earlier in the day, but its future was unclear.

The tentative accord would give the Bush administration just a fraction of the $700 billion it had requested up front, with half that total subject to a congressional veto, Capitol Hill aides said. But nothing appeared final. Amid several signs that conservatives were balking, Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, emerged from the White House and said the announced agreement “is, obviously, no agreement.”

Palin defends claim about foreign policy experience

NEW YORK — Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin defended her remark that the close proximity of Russia to her home state of Alaska gives her foreign policy experience, explaining in a CBS interview airing Thursday that “we have trade missions back and forth.”

Palin has never visited Russia and until last year the 44-year-old Alaska governor had never traveled outside North America.

Pakistani troops fire on US helicopters at Afghan border

KABUL, Afghanistan — Pakistani soldiers fired at American reconnaissance helicopters that were escorting Afghan and U.S. ground troops along the volatile border Thursday, sparking a five-minute ground battle between the countries which have been allies in the war on terrorism, officials said.

Attempting to play down the incident, Pakistan’s president said only “flares” were fired at foreign helicopters that he said had strayed across the border from Afghanistan into his country.

11 kids abandoned at Neb. hospitals under state’s safe haven law

OMAHA, Neb. — Nine siblings are among 11 children as old as 17 who were left at Omaha hospitals Wednesday under Nebraska’s unique and new safe haven law, which allows caregivers to abandon babies and teenagers alike at hospitals without fear of prosecution.

The law, originally intended to protect infants, was expanded in a legislative compromise to protect any “child.” Some have interpreted that to mean anyone under 19.

Nuclear waste piling up at US labs, hospitals

BARNWELL, S.C. — Tubes, capsules and pellets of used radioactive material are piling up in the basements and locked closets of hospitals and research installations around the country, stoking fears they could get lost or, worse, stolen by terrorists and turned into dirty bombs.

For years, truckloads of low-level nuclear waste from most of the U.S. were taken to a rural South Carolina landfill. There, items such as the rice-size radioactive seeds for treating cancer and pencil-thin nuclear tubes used in industrial gauges were sealed in concrete and buried.