Tourist center OK'd for Capitol
The grounds of the U.S. Capitol will soon undergo their biggest change in 150 years. But the 200-year-old structure itself will not be upstaged by a new three-story tourist center at its east front.
The final design of the $265 million center all of it underground was approved Wednesday by the Capitol Preservation Commission.
The center, scheduled to open sometime in 2005, will provide about 4,000 tourists at a time with historical displays, theaters, restrooms and food while they wait to enter the Capitol. Pre-construction activities began last January; actual construction should begin in the winter of 2001.
MP3.com settles with music publishers
MP3.com Inc. reached a preliminary settlement with the National Music Publishers' Assn. Inc. that will make more than one million songs available on its online music service.
The agreement calls for MP3.com to pay up to $30 million to the association's licensing unit, MP3.com said Wednesday. It also grants MP3.com a three-year license that requires the company to pay publishers one quarter cent each time a song is streamed on demand to a listener.
The publishing association sued in March about the site's use of its members' songs. My.MP3.com allows users to listen to music from CDs they already own or which they purchase from MP3.com's retail partners.
Appalachian panel OKs anti-poverty funds
A federal commission on Wednesday agreed to spend $85 million during the next five years to help pull 114 distressed Appalachian counties out of poverty.
The Appalachian Regional Commission, created by Congress in 1965 to help impoverished areas in the 13-state region, said it could guarantee $10 million, which would go for economic development efforts, including improving health care. The remaining $75 million would have to be budgeted by Congress.
The organization says the money is needed to improve telephone and Internet service, which is crucial to linking the region to international commerce. Appalachia runs from southern New York south to Mississippi.
HUD officials accused of sexual harassment
The Department of Housing and Urban Development's inspector general has filed a sexual discrimination and harassment complaint against Secretary Andrew Cuomo and other top agency officials.
HUD officials contend Susan Gaffney's complaint is an attempt to distract attention away from an investigation that resulted in several senior officials in her office being suspended for using government computers to obtain sexually explicit materials.
In her 19-page complaint, Gaffney detailed more than 30 occasions on which she said she was harassed and intimidated by top HUD officials for her efforts to root out fraud and abuse at the agency.
Treasury workers plead guilty to $9 million theft
Two former state Treasury workers facing possible life in prison pleaded guilty Wednesday and are cooperating with prosecutors in the $9 million theft case.
In return, prosecutors recommended that former Deputy Treasurer Robert Foley be sentenced to no more than seven years in prison and former department supervisor John Trischitta serve no more than five years.
The two men were indicted along with five others a former department employee, two attorneys and two businessmen for allegedly stealing state money between 1992 and 1999.