The Nation In Brief

Bill passed to bring troops home


House Democrats pushed through a $50 billion bill for the Iraq war Wednesday night that would require President Bush to start bringing troops home in coming weeks with a goal of ending combat by December 2008.

The legislation, passed 218-203, was largely a symbolic jab at Bush, who already has begun reducing force levels but opposes a congressionally mandated timetable on the war. And while the measure was unlikely to pass in the Senate &

let alone overcome a presidential veto &

Democrats said they wanted voters to know they weren't giving up.

"The fact is, we can no longer sustain the military deployment in Iraq," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "Staying there in the manner that we are there is no longer an option."

The White House pledged to veto the bill, and Republicans said they would back the president.

"These votes, like the dozens of previous failed votes, put the interests of radical interest groups ahead of the needs of our military and their mission," an administration statement said.

O.J. Simpson to face new criminal trial


More than a decade after his acquittal on murder charges, O.J. Simpson will again stand trial in a case certain to capture the national spotlight.

The former football star said he wasn't surprised when a justice of the peace ordered him on Wednesday to defend himself against charges including kidnapping and armed robbery in a suspected sports memorabilia heist. He also said he trusted jurors to do what's right.

"If I have any disappointment it's that I wish a jury was here," Simpson told The Associated Press before he left the courtroom. "As always, I rely on the jury system."

Justice of the Peace Joe M. Bonaventure refused to dismiss any charges in a 12-count complaint against Simpson and co-defendants Clarence "C.J." Stewart and Charles "Charlie" Ehrlich, which stem from a Sept. 13 confrontation in a casino hotel room.

"" The Associated Press

Prosecutors accuse Simpson of leading the suspected armed robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers.

The defendants are to enter their pleas on Nov. 28. (Read more on Page B1)

House to attempt a new eavesdropping bill


House Democrats are hoping changes they made to a bill to expand court oversight of government surveillance inside the United States will find enough to support to win passage on a second try.

A vote was expected Thursday on the second attempt in a month to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which dictates when the government must obtain court permission to carry out electronic eavesdropping. Last month House Republicans used a procedural maneuver to force the withdrawal of a similar bill just before a vote.

Democratic aides think the small changes they made in the bill since then will garner majority approval and protect the bill from a similar fate.

The Democratic bill lacks one key feature President Bush is insisting on: legal immunity for telecommunications companies alleged to have secretly helped the government monitor Americans' phone calls and e-mails without court permission. About 40 civil lawsuits have been filed against telecom companies, alleging they broke wiretapping and privacy laws, and the White House has threatened to veto any surveillance bill that does not protect the companies. The White House contends lawsuits could bankrupt the companies and reveal classified information.

The House bill would allow unfettered telephone and e-mail surveillance of foreign intelligence targets, but would require special authorization if the foreign targets are likely to be in contact with people inside the United States &

a provision designed to safeguard Americans' privacy.

Broadway stagehands and producers to resume talks in hopes of saving Thanksgiving shows NEW YORK &

Striking stagehands and Broadway producers are going back to the bargaining table, less than a week before the start of the lucrative Thanksgiving holiday weekend when most plays and musicals experience a box-office bonanza.

Negotiations will resume this weekend "at an undisclosed place and time," the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the League of American Theatres said Wednesday. "No comment from either organization will be issued until further notice," both sides said in a joint statement.

Was there pressure to return to the talks before Thanksgiving, when the city is filled with visitors here for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and the start of the Christmas shopping season?

"It was a factor," said Norman Samnick, an entertainment lawyer who specializes in labor relations for Bryan Cave LLP. "It doesn't surprise me that this is happening. What the end-all will be, I have no idea. But somebody is going to give a little; somebody is going to take a little."

The announcement "is a very important step forward," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who reiterated his willingness "to help resolve these disagreements and let the shows go on."

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