September 24, 2001 11:44 AM

• The government on Monday ordered all airport workers with access to planes and secure areas to submit to new criminal background checks. Crop-dusting planes were grounded for a second day over fears they could be used in an attack, reports the Associated Press.

• The Federal Aviation Administration ordered airports and airlines to redo criminal checks and scrutinize employment histories for baggage handlers, food service workers and other employees who have access to airliners, ramps, tarmacs and other secure areas. The Coast Guard, meanwhile, began checking the identities of passengers on inbound ships.

• Attorney General John Ashcroft said 352 people have now been arrested or detained in the investigation of the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington, and another 392 people were being sought for questioning. Ashcroft said he believed those being held or sought have information about the attacks.

• There was at least some sign of optimism on Wall Street, where the stock market opened sharply higher after a week of exceptionally steep declines.

• New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who has received widespread praise for his leadership of his besieged city, has not ruled out trying to extend his stay in office but said Monday, “I have not had time to think about it.” Due to term limits, the mayor is legally barred seeking a third term this fall. “It’s a very important decision,” he said. “I need time to talk to people about it.”

• Americans appear to back President Bush solidly, with 90% of them approving of the way he has handled his job, according to a CNN and USA Today poll. That was the highest rating for a U.S. president ever recorded by the Gallup polling group, overshadowing the previous record 89 percent scored by Bush’s father, President George Bush, at the end of the 1991 Gulf War.

• New York officials said the number of those missing in the wreckage of the World Trade Center had risen to 6,453, up 120 from the prior toll amid continued checks of lists of those unaccounted for. The chances of finding survivors 12 days after the attacks were very small, although rescue work continued.

• Rescue workers at the World Trade Center site this weekend found a major part of one of the planes that hit the towers on Sept. 11. A 10-foot piece of jetliner fuselage was loaded onto a golf cart and taken away by federal crime-scene investigators. The flight recorders, or black boxes, of the hijacked airliners are still missing, however. Pictures of them are posted throughout the site so rescuers will recognize them.

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