- The Washington Times - Monday, December 25, 2000

Fallen branch delays rail passengers

METUCHEN, N.J. Thousands of passengers on New Jersey Transit and Amtrak trains were delayed for hours because a fallen tree branch knocked down a power line.

Trains spent an average of three to four hours inching along tracks between New Brunswick and Newark, a distance of about 25 miles, on Saturday, said New Jersey Transit spokeswoman Anna Farneski.

"I think some people may have sat there [on the tracks] for a couple hours in a handful of instances," Miss Farneski said yesterday. She said the longest delay was seven hours.

One Amtrak passenger, Krystal Knapp of Mercer County, N.J., said her train from Princeton stopped about four miles from the New Brunswick station and was stuck on the tracks for about six hours.

Twenty to 30 New Jersey Transit trains were delayed.

Richardson downplays heating oil concerns

Concerns over heating-oil disruptions are unfounded, and there is enough to keep low-income homes in the Northeast warm through the winter, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said yesterday.

Mr. Richardson, speaking on CNN's "Late Edition," said he did not anticipate the disruptions feared by consumer groups. "I believe we're going to have enough in the Northeast, in the East, to avoid a supply disruption," he said.

In any case, he said, President Clinton had designated a Northeast heating-oil reserve that should meet any extra demand. "So if in the Northeast there's an emergency, we have 2 million barrels that we can tap into."

Freighter off Miami presumed lost

MIAMI Coast Guard teams searched yesterday for survivors of a Haiti-bound freighter presumed lost in rough seas with eight crew members aboard.

The 163-foot, Belize-flagged Anita left Miami for Haiti early Saturday, Coast Guard spokesman Robert Suddarth said. About 10 a.m., the Coast Guard received a signal from the ship's emergency beacon.

Searchers found life rafts, some of the ship's cargo and an oil slick about 45 miles southeast of Miami, but no sign of the ship or survivors, Mr. Suddarth said yesterday.

Twelve-foot seas and 30-mph winds hampered the search.

Gates gives billions to global health

BOSTON Bill Gates gave $1.44 billion last year to fight global health threats, including AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Now, he would like to see more commitment from the world's industrialized nations.

The grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation equal more than a quarter of the $5 billion industrialized nations spent combined. It is clear, Mr. Gates said, the wealthy nations haven't been doing enough.

"The world hasn't been allocating its resources properly at all in global health," the Microsoft founder said in an interview in yesterday's editions of the Boston Globe from his office in Redmond, Wash.

The foundation made 60 separate grants in the past year, and Mr. Gates said it will give at least $1 billion annually "throughout my lifetime and beyond."

Treasury secretary says slowdown 'inevitable'

A slowdown in the pace of U.S. expansion was unavoidable, but Americans have are sound reasons to expect steady economic growth next year, Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers said yesterday.

"Some deceleration in the economy from where it had been was an inevitable thing," Mr. Summers said on ABC's "This Week" program, pointing out that private-sector forecasters still predict "moderate growth" over the four quarters of 2001.

In a separate television appearance on "Fox News Sunday," White House economic adviser Gene Sperling suggesting that the rate of growth of goods and services output measured by gross domestic product will ease to about 3 percent in 2001 from 5.1 percent this year.

"We're seeing the economy go into a more moderate but solid path," Mr. Sperling said.

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