Lawmaker disputesflight attendant's story
WASHINGTON -- Rep. Gary Condit denied on Tuesday that he had asked a flight attendant to withhold information from authorities investigating the disappearance of a young California woman.
The flight attendant, Anne Marie Smith, told Fox News that she had a yearlong affair with Condit. She said he contacted her last month and was upset when she told him she had been called by FBI agents who were interviewing people about intern Chandra Levy's disappearance.
"He said that, 'You don't have to talk to the media -- you don't have to talk to anybody. You don't even have to talk to the FBI,'" Smith said.
She also said that Condit, who is 53 and married, urged her to sign a declaration that denied a relationship between them.
Condit, D-Calif., issued a brief statement Tuesday concerning the Levy investigation: "I have not asked anyone to refrain from discussing this matter with authorities, nor have I suggested anyone mislead the authorities."
His statement made no mention of Smith.
Comedian pleadsinnocent to charges
SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- Children who support Paula Poundstone demonstrated outside the courthouse where the comedian pleaded innocent Tuesday to child molestation in a case her lawyer said is "ripping her guts out."
Poundstone, 41, was tearful before her arraignment on four felony charges -- three of committing a lewd act on a girl under age 14 and one of endangering two other girls and two boys.
If convicted of all charges, she could face up to 13 years and four months in prison.
"Not guilty, your honor," Poundstone said in a near-whisper when Los Angeles County Superior Court Commissioner Roberta Kyman asked for her plea. She stood before the bench in a bright lime green suit with a pink shirt and plaid necktie, an outfit similar to the signature costumes she wears onstage.
Outside court a group of neighbors, including several children, demonstrated, carrying signs saying, "We love you, Paula."
"She always throws parties for the kids and goes way out of her way to show them a good time," neighbor Paul Shepherd said.
Declaration to gounder examination
WASHINGTON -- When the National Archives closes at the end of today, the Declaration of Independence will go out of sight as experts examine it and repair the display that houses it.
Gone, too, for the next two years will be original copies of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
The last holiday visitors will leave the rotunda at 6 p.m. EDT, instead of the usual 9 p.m. closing. At that time, the three precious documents will be lowered 22 feet into the building's concrete and steel vault.
That's customary. But instead of being raised for public view once again Thursday morning, the documents will be readied for transfer in a month to a laboratory in suburban College Park, Md., for their first close examination since 1952. There is evidence that the glass enclosing them has been flaking.
"The deterioration is not readily visible under current exhibition conditions," said an Archives report, "but eventually the glass will become opaque and block the visibility of the documents."
OPEC announcesno change in oil output
VIENNA, Austria -- OPEC members agreed Tuesday to continue pumping oil at current levels of production but braced for softer crude prices as Iraq showed a willingness to resume its suspended oil shipments.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries announced its decision after a formal meeting of delegates at the cartel's headquarters in Vienna. OPEC pumps about two-fifths of the world's oil, with an official production of 24.2 million barrels a day.
Soon after the OPEC meeting at its headquarters in Vienna, the U.N. Security Council in New York voted to extend by five months a humanitarian oil-for-food program. The program allows Iraq -- strapped by U.N. trade sanctions imposed after the Gulf War -- to sell oil to buy food, medicine and other essential goods.
The head of Iraq's OPEC delegation, Saddam Hassan, told reporters earlier that Iraq was prepared to renew its daily exports of 2.1 million barrels of oil "within a week" but only if the Security Council did not attach any conditions to an extension of sanctions.