hProtesters raise howlover lawmaker pay raises
HARRISBURG -- Baylee, a golden retriever from Harrisburg, reacts during a rally at the state Capitol. The demonstration Monday was against a pay raise for lawmakers approved July 7 without debate or public notice.
Most lawmakers began collecting their raises immediately in the form of "unvouchered expenses," even though the state constitution prohibits legislators from receiving any raise during the term in which it was passed.
While members of the state House and Senate went about their business inside the Capitol for the first time since they approved the pay raise, the demonstrators huddled beneath umbrellas on the steps outside, blowing whistles, waving signs and chanting anti-raise slogans.
Sharon wins victoryin key Likud Party vote
JERUSALEM -- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon narrowly survived a challenge to his leadership of the Likud Party on Monday when the party's Central Committee voted against holding a primary election in November, six months ahead of schedule.
Sharon, facing stiff internal dissent over his decision to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, had said losing the vote would have been tantamount to impeachment. It would also would likely have triggered early national elections.
Sharon, 77, will still face a strong challenge in April from his chief rival, Benjamin Netanyahu, who had been pushing for an early primary to take advantage of simmering anger inside Likud over the Sharon's Gaza policy.
Spanish tribunal convicts18 of terrorism charges
MADRID, Spain -- Concluding Europe's largest trial to date of alleged Al-Qaida militants, a Spanish tribunal Monday convicted 18 Muslim immigrants of terrorism-related charges, among them a purported ringleader found guilty of conspiring to plan the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.
It was a rare conviction of anyone associated with the 2001 assault on New York and Washington. But in a stinging blow to efforts here and abroad to prosecute terrorism cases, the court dismissed the most serious charges before it: that three of the defendants were accomplices to murder in the Sept. 11 attacks.
The key defendant, Syrian-born Spanish citizen Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder for his contacts with Mohamed Atta, one of the men who piloted a hijacked airliner into the World Trade Center. Barakat had been accused of arranging a meeting near the Spanish city of Tarragona in July 2001 where Atta is believed to have finalized his plans to attack New York and government sites in Washington.
Better deal for seniors
WASHINGTON -- People who get their drug benefits through the Veterans Affairs Department paid about $220 less for a yearlong prescription than those who used the government's Medicare drug card, said a study released today.
Families USA, an advocacy group, said older people using the discount cards paid more than they would have paid through the VA for 49 of the 50 most frequently used drugs for senior citizens.
The discount cards have been in effect for less than 18 months. They will be replaced Jan. 1 by a comprehensive benefit that beneficiaries can obtain by enrolling with a private plan.
New name for Ask Jeeves
SAN FRANCISCO -- The genteel butler that has been Ask Jeeves Inc.'s face for nearly a decade is getting ousted in a corporate takeover.
Jeeves, the slightly chubby and balding English butler, isn't the kind of image that e-commerce conglomerate InterActiveCorp wants representing the Ask Jeeves search engine, according to IAC Chairman Barry Diller. His New York-based company bought Ask Jeeves for $2.3 billion in July.
Speaking at a Goldman Sachs investor conference last week, Diller announced that his company intends to drop Jeeves as a mascot and shorten the search site's name to Ask or Ask.com.
Combined dispatches

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