Posted: December 30, 2003

Poll: Bush and Hillary are

Americans' most admired

George W. Bush and Hillary Rodham Clinton are the most admired man and woman in America, according to a poll released yesterday.

The Republican president and the Democratic senator from New York and former first lady won't be found on the same sides of many political issues. But they're both seen in a favorable light by the American public.

When people were asked to name the man they admire the most, Bush was picked by 29 percent. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Pope John Paul II were named by 4 percent and former President Bill Clinton was named by 3 percent, according to the CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll.

Sen. Clinton, was named by 16 percent, while talk show host Oprah Winfrey was picked by 7 percent, first lady Laura Bush by 6 percent and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice by 4 percent.

$330M in taxpayer money

paid contractors' legal bills

The Energy Department spent $330 million in taxpayer money to reimburse its private contractors for legal bills over a 5 1/2-year span, including for lawsuits they lost and settlements of sexual harassment and whistleblower allegations, congressional investigators reported yesterday.

A key congressman said the reimbursements amount to a "get-out-of-court free" card for contractors who engage in wrongdoing.

"When a contractor for the DOE gets sued, 95 percent of the time its legal fees and settlement costs get reimbursed by the federal government," said Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Pope's Burundi ambassador

assassinated leaving funeral

Gunmen killed the pope's ambassador in Burundi yesterday, firing on his car as he was returning from a funeral.

Archbishop Michael Courtney was shot in the head and shoulder and died during surgery at Prince Louis Rwagasore Hospital in Bujumbura, a hospital official said.

The assassination took place in an area about 30 miles south of the capital, Bujumbura, on Lake Tanganyika. The area is a stronghold of rebels of the National Liberation Forces, the only group that has not signed a peace deal with the transitional government. The FLN denied responsibility in the killing.

Cops: Woman killed friend,

cut her open to get fetus

An Oklahoma woman who had convinced her husband she was pregnant - and was even thrown a baby shower - killed a pregnant acquaintance and cut the fetus from her womb, police said yesterday.

Effie Goodson, 37, is charged with murdering Carolyn Simpson, 21, who was six months pregnant, and the fetus.

A hunter found Simpson's body in a field on Friday. She had been shot in the head.

Simpson was last seen on Dec. 22, leaving a tribal casino in Okemah where she worked and Goodson was a patron.

The next day, Goodson brought a dead fetus to a Holdenville hospital. Goodson claimed to be the mother, but investigators determined she could not have given birth, and she was taken into custody, authorities said.

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