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House panel to quiz Geithner, Bernanke

WASHINGTON, March 24 (UPI) -- A U.S. House panel set time aside Tuesday to quiz two key federal officials on the government's oversight of its intervention at insurance giant AIG.


Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke were scheduled to testify Tuesday before the House Financial Services Committee, led by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the committee's Web site said. The two were unable to appear before a subcommittee last week during a hearing involving American International Group Chief Executive Officer Edward Liddy.

The chairman of the subcommittee, Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski, D-Pa., said he was pleased Geithner and Bernanke "will have the opportunity to explain directly and publicly the actions they have taken to rescue AIG from collapse and monitor the company's performance since then. They have much to clarify for the American public."


During last week's subcommittee hearing, several committee members expressed disappointment at not being able to ask Geithner and Bernanke about bailout fund oversight.

Obama has second evening news conference

WASHINGTON, March 24 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama takes to the airwaves Tuesday, pressing his economic message to the American public during a prime-time news conference.

Obama was to field reporters' questions during his second prime-time news conference in his presidency.

The news conference would be the first time he faces journalists in a structured setting since the controversy erupted last week over millions of dollars in bonuses being paid to American International Group executives as the government provided billions of dollars in financial aid to the insurance giant, The Washington Post reported.

During the past five days, Obama has been in one-on-one televised interviews -- NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and CBS' "60 Minutes" -- and hosted a series of town hall meetings on the West Coast in which the AIG snafu came up in question-and-answer sessions.

Obama is expected to follow the formula he used in his evening new conference in February, when he offered some introductory remarks followed by answering about a dozen questions from reporters.


Non-bank seizure authority to be sought

WASHINGTON, March 24 (UPI) -- The Obama administration is considering legislation that would allow the U.S. Treasury secretary to seize non-bank financial companies, a document indicates.

The expanded power -- the government currently can only seize banks -- would allow the secretary to initiate the seizure of entities such as insurers, investment firms and hedge funds, if it's determined their collapse would damage the economy, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Legislation could be sent to Congress as early as this week, sources said. U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was to argue for the new power during a U.S. House of Representatives committee hearing Tuesday over millions of dollars paid in bonuses to executives at American International Group as it received billions of dollars in federal assistance.

While details are being hammered out, the proposal would allow the Treasury secretary to exercise the new powers in consultation with the White House, the Federal Reserve and other regulators, the document said.

The administration's proposal would empower a government agency to act as a systemic risk regulator with oversight of financial firms whose failure could disrupt the broader economy, the Post said. The government also would assume authority to seize such firms if they teeter on the brink of failure or use a range of tools -- such as guaranteeing losses, buying assets or taking a partial ownership stake -- to prevent the firm's collapse.


Likud, Labor reach Israel coalition deal

JERUSALEM, March 24 (UPI) -- Israeli Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu and Labor Party leader Ehud Barak have agreed to join forces in a governing coalition, local media reported.

Agriculture Minister and Labor Party principal Shalom Simchon told Israeli Army Radio Tuesday that Netanyahu and Barak have forged a deal for Labor to join a right-wing coalition of the Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu parties on condition the new government would work toward a peace agreement with the Palestinian people, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The proposed coalition will be submitted to Labor Party members convention Tuesday in Tel Aviv for a secret vote on whether to join the government or oppose it, a vote that could determine the fate of Labor, which has lost seats in the Knesset and is struggling to stay relevant, analysts said.

The Army Radio report indicated that under the coalition deal, Barak, who supports a separate state for the Palestinians, would remain Defense minister and be included in every forum where a diplomatic or security decision was being made.

The Post also quoted the report as saying Netanyahu has agreed to Barak's demand that illegal outposts and settlement construction in the West Bank be restricted or dismantled.


Red meat linked to early death

NEW YORK, March 24 (UPI) -- A U.S. study suggests people who eat red meat every day are more likely than others to die of heart disease and cancer.

The National Cancer Institute study -- which looked at data from 545,653 men and women ages 50 to 71 -- found that those who ate the equivalent of a hamburger each day were 30 percent more likely to die during the 10 years of the study than those who ate fish or poultry, The Washington Post reported Monday.

The findings are published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

"This is a slam-dunk to say that, 'Yes, indeed, if people want to be healthy and live longer, consume less red and processed meat," Barry M. Popkin -- a professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina who wrote an editorial published alongside the study -- told the newspaper.

Researchers said the reasons red meat is unhealthy range from the levels of saturated fat to cancer-causing compounds created by cooking and processing red meat.

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