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FBI probes bank loans to Iraq

The Justice Department said Sunday it has launched an inquiry into why the Central Intelligence Agency withheld documents about illegal loans to Iraq made by an Italian bank. But Justice spokesman Paul McNulty denied his department pressured the CIA to release misleading documents about the bank scandal. The CIA has made the same denial. The $4-billion in fraudulent loans, some backed by U.S. government guarantees, were made by the Atlanta branch of Banca Nazionale del Lavoro and helped Iraq buy food and weapons before the Persian Gulf war. Democrats have seized on the affair to show that President Bush allowed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to build a weapons arsenal that led to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

USAir workers ratify contract

INDIANAPOLIS _ Some USAir machinists returned to work Sunday to help return the airline to full service after striking workers agreed to make wage concessions in return for job security. A full complement of 2,712 flights were scheduled to begin this morning, said an airline spokesman. The company had been flying roughly 60 percent of its schedule since more than 8,000 machinists of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers went on strike Oct. 5. Workers on Saturday ratified a one-year 3.5 percent pay cut.

Report: Plan imperils medicine

WASHINGTON _ The Bush administration's plan to change how the Food and Drug Administration approves new drugs would undermine the agency's ability to ensure medicines are safe, a House committee report says. The report is an attack on Vice President Dan Quayle's Council on Competitiveness and its call for altering the FDA's operations. The committee recommends the FDA junk the ideas of the Quayle council. The committee complains of proposals to have the FDA have private contractors review drug applications and have the companies submit applications for clinical trials to special boards instead of the FDA.

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