WorldCom Developments

The justice department has asked, and a federal judge has agreed, to appoint an independent examiner in the massive WorldCom bankruptcy case.

The agent will head a probe into possible mismanagement and fraud in the company's downfall. The case is being considered by a New York judge.

Meanwhile, President Bush Monday delivered another economic pep talk, speaking to reporters in Illinois.

The president said the economy is sound and that U.S. corporations are becoming a better investment.

He said when congress cracks down on corporate wrongdoing, the uncertainty will be gone from the stock market.

Mississippi Congressman Ronnie Shows Monday introduced legislation to increase severance pay to employees laid off due to downsizing and company bankruptcy.

If adopted, it would nearly triple the amount eligible employees may collect.

"The bankruptcy code currently limits the priority claims for wages and benefits of an employee of a bankrupt company to only $4,650 as adjusted for inflation," said Shows. "I am confident that this legislation that I propose today will bring some much-needed relief to the hard working families that are hurt by these financial disasters."

Under the bill, an employee's priority severance payment would increase to $13,500. It has not yet been presented for a vote.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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