Bill would delay passport rule

WASHINGTON - Congress is seeking to delay a new security rule requiring passports at all U.S. border crossings next year in hopes of averting a repeat of this summer's vacation-killing backlog of passport applications.

The Bush administration said yesterday that it opposed a delay and still planned to implement the planned passport rule next summer.

Lawmakers said that under the omnibus spending bill, the border passport rule would be moved back to no earlier than June 1, 2009.

Demand for passports soared after the first phase of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative took effect earlier this year, requiring U.S. travelers returning by plane from Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean to carry a passport.

- AP

Bribe alleged in Argentina case

MIAMI - The man said to have brought a suitcase stuffed with cash to Argentina for the candidate who is now its president was offered $2 million by Venezuelan agents to keep quiet and help cover up the source of the money, a U.S. prosecutor alleged yesterday.

Two of four men charged in the case with being illegal Venezuelan agents made the offer to Guido Alejandro Antonini Wilson, a dual U.S.-Venezuelan citizen who is cooperating with the FBI, Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Mulvihill said at a pretrial hearing.

Mulvihill did not say which two allegedly made the offer. He said Antonini's family was threatened if he did not agree to help Venezuela's intelligence service cover up the $800,000 he took to Argentina in August for Cristina Fernandez's campaign. Fernandez has denounced the U.S. investigation.

- AP

University to pay for security lapse

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The University of California has agreed to pay the federal government $2.8 million over a security breakdown last year at Los Alamos National Laboratory, which the university formerly managed for the Energy Department.

The university will not seek a judicial review of the penalty and has accepted responsibility for the violations, the National Nuclear Security Administration said yesterday.

In October 2006, Los Alamos police found more than 1,000 pages of classified documents and several computer-storage devices during a drug raid at the trailer of a former worker for a lab subcontractor.

- AP

Elsewhere:

A jury yesterday

convicted a millionaire couple of enslaving two Indonesian women they brought to their Long Island, N.Y., mansion to work as housekeepers, subjecting them to psychological and physical abuse and forcing them to work 18 hours or more a day.

The Von Maur department store

in Omaha, Neb., where a teen gunman went on a deadly rampage Dec. 5, will reopen Thursday, store officials said.