World and Nation

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Fuel Bill Is Scrutinized, Even as Bush Threatens Veto

Gas mileage would go up under the compromise reached by congressional leaders last week, but not as high as the trumpeted numbers. And despite the tougher 35-mpg standard, a growing population of drivers would push up total fuel use, as well as greenhouse gas emissions — but not as rapidly as it would without the legislation.

Those are some of the conclusions of auto policy experts, who were still struggling Monday to determine exactly what the proposal would do, even as President Bush threatened to veto the energy legislation, still under negotiation, that includes these provisions,

The fleet average for vehicles in the 2020 model year would be set at 35 miles a gallon, versus about 25 miles a gallon for cars and light trucks today. Both numbers, though, come with a familiar caveat: Actual mileage may vary.

In fact, the actual performance falls short of the current standard by about 20 percent, as would be true as well of the higher standard if the proposal becomes law.

Manufacturers will be encouraged to keep selling cars that can burn rich mixtures of ethanol with gasoline, even where there is no place to buy it. The compromise phases out the credit for building “flex fuel” cars more slowly than current law does.

The compromise establishes a combined standard for cars and light trucks, as opposed to the current system, while also shifting the structure of the rule from a simple average of all car models or all light truck models to an “attribute-based” system.

High-Living Hedge Manager’s Widow Accused in His Death

A life of private jets and black-tie balls ended with Seth Tobias, a wealthy investment manager and a familiar presence on CNBC, floating face down in the swimming pool of his mansion here.

It was just after midnight on Sept. 4 when Tobias’ wife, Filomena, frantically called 911. “Please send somebody, please!” Tobias screamed. “He’s not breathing!” By the time the police arrived, she had pulled her husband’s body to the edge of the pool, where she cradled his head in her arms, sobbing.

Seth Tobias, who was 44 years old, had apparently suffered a heart attack, his brother Spence said at the time. The police did not consider his death suspicious.

But now an unfolding drama over Tobias’ estate is providing a lurid account of fast money and faster living in the volatile world of hedge funds. Tobias’ four brothers and Filomena Tobias are locked in a legal battle over the estate, which is worth at least $25 million. And, in a civil complaint, they have gone so far as to accuse her of murder.

The brothers, Samuel, Spence, Scott, and Joshua, claim Filomena Tobias drugged her husband and lured him into the pool. Bill Ash, a former assistant to Seth Tobias, has told the police that Filomena Tobias confessed to him that she had cajoled her husband into the water while he was on a cocaine binge with a promise of sex with a male go-go dancer known as “Tiger.”

Filomena Tobias’ lawyers call the claims outrageous. She has not been accused of any crime.

Diocese in Iowa Settles Sex-Abuse Claims for $37 Million

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Davenport, Iowa, has reached a $37 million settlement to compensate victims of sexual abuse by clergy members and let the diocese emerge from bankruptcy, the two sides announced Monday.

The money will be divided among 156 people who say they suffered sexual abuse by priests and lower-level employees dating from the late 1930s. Part of the settlement will be set aside for victims who may still come forward.

The diocese is the last of five to reach such a settlement after filing for bankruptcy rather than face what would probably be a deluge of suits.

Under the accord, victims will be allowed to speak about their experiences at parishes and through articles in the diocesan newspaper. The newspaper will also publish the offenders’ names.

David Clohessy, the national director of the group Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said the wide range of noneconomic proposals for the Davenport victims was unusual.

“In most settlements, church officials fight tooth and nail to oppose any reforms,” Clohessy said. “This is a hard-won, long-overdue victory for dozens of deeply wounded but brave victims.”

Imus Is Back, Chastened But Still Proudly Obnoxious

Nearly eight months after being fired for making a racially and sexually disparaging remark about the Rutgers women’s basketball team, Don Imus returned to the radio at 6 a.m. on Monday and vowed he would not say anything like it again.

He also introduced two new cast members, Karith Foster and Tony Powell — both black and both comedians — and said they would join him in conducting “an ongoing discussion about race relations in this country.”

“I will never say anything in my lifetime that will make any of these young women at Rutgers regret or feel foolish that they accepted my apology and forgave me,” Imus told a live audience at Town Hall in midtown Manhattan and those listening to WABC-AM, his new radio home. “And no one else will say anything on my program that will make anyone think I did not deserve a second chance.”

Still, in many ways it felt as if the clock had been turned back to before last April, when Imus made his remark and was fired by CBS Radio and MSNBC, which had simulcast his program on cable television.