The Nation in Brief

Panel tells Bush to answer subpoenas


House Democrats threatened Monday to hold President Bush's key confidants in contempt of Congress unless they comply with subpoenas for information on the Justice Department's purge of federal prosecutors last winter.

The White House shrugged off the ultimatum, saying the information is off-limits under executive privilege and that the aides in question &

White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten and former presidential counselor Harriet Miers &

are immune from prosecution.

"It won't go anywhere," predicted White House press secretary Dana Perino.

Congressional Democrats nonetheless submitted their 102-page report, and a Republican rebuttal, to the House clerk on Monday afternoon. The report accused Miers of contempt for failing to appear and testify as subpoenaed. She and Bolten were charged with failing to produce documents on whether the prosecutors were fired at the White House's behest.

Also in the sights of House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich.: Karl Rove, the architect of Bush's rise to the White House and a top political adviser who left last summer.

Giuliani says results outweigh errors


Rudy Giuliani said Monday that if his achievements as president are as good as the crime-reduction results of his New York police commissioner, a man now under criminal investigation himself, "this country will be in great shape."

Giuliani, in an interview with The Associated Press, acknowledged mistakes by Bernard Kerik, who was police commissioner when Giuliani was mayor. But he said crime reduction for the city was more important.

Kerik, whom Giuliani pushed to head the federal Department of Homeland Security, is under investigation on what could be multiple felony charges. Giuliani said he hadn't spoken to his friend and one-time business partner recently and had no idea what implication a Kerik indictment or plea deal could have on his presidential campaign.

"I have no idea what's going to happen, first of all, nor do I have any idea what he's going to do," the Republican contender said.

Giuliani has accepted responsibility for his role in Kerik's embarrassing 2004 withdrawal as President Bush's Homeland Security nominee after revelation of tax problems. Ethics questions and corruption allegations also have swirled around Kerik. But the former New York mayor said the results of the commissioner's time in New York far outweigh isolated incidences.

Shuttle to fly over US in re-entry


Shuttle Discovery's astronauts surveyed the wings of their ship Monday to ensure a safe descent over the American heartland after leaving the international space station.

On the ride home Wednesday, the space shuttle will make the first coast-to-coast re-entry since Columbia shattered in the sky over Texas in 2003 and sent tens of thousands of pounds of wreckage raining down on at least two states.

Discovery was not supposed to re-enter over the entire United States &

just Florida after zooming up from the southwest over Central America and the Caribbean. But that original plan would have entailed a pre-dawn landing, and shuttle commander Pamela Melroy preferred a safer, easier touchdown in daylight, said shuttle program manager Wayne Hale.

This 15-day mission is longer than most &

and more stressful, too, with the astronauts' impromptu repair to the torn solar wing at the space station. As a result, crew fatigue must be considered, Hale said.

Discovery's new path will have it descending early Wednesday afternoon over the Canadian coast and the Pacific Northwest, down across the Midwest and the South, and on into Florida.

New X-ray could help find heart disease


A type of "super X-ray" showed promise in its first big test as a potentially cheaper, faster and painless way to find out whether certain people with signs of heart disease actually have it and need treatment. The scans might eliminate the need for some of the 1.3 million cardiac catheterizations done each year in the United States to check for clogged arteries, said Dr. Julie Miller of Johns Hopkins University.

But the newer scans are controversial: Medicare and private insurers are debating whether to pay for them, and many heart specialists oppose them, partly because they supply a big dose of radiation. That raises the risk of cancer and might spur thousands of additional cases if the scans were widely used in the population, said Dr. Michael Lauer of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Speaking at an American Heart Association conference where study results of the scan were presented Monday, he called on doctors not to use the scans until research proves they save lives.

"I think he went a little overboard" and was reacting to worries the scans would be used to screen people with no symptoms, rather than the more limited use tested in the study, said Miller, who led the research.

This new CT scan technology came on the market two years ago and is already used by many hospitals. Because it uses 64 detectors to produce and combine images, the scans are called "64-slice CT." The images are so detailed that one doctor described them as an almost surgical view.

"" The Associated Press

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