News In Brief

One of President Bush's first policy moves, it appeared, would be to block federal funds to international family-planning groups that offer abortion and related counseling, a White House official said. The action would reverse a Clinton administration stance. Bush's decision was leaked on the same day that abortion opponents were staging a march on Washington to mark the 28th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion. As the Monitor went to press, police arrested at least 10 protesters who were demonstrating against the use of the controversial abortion pill RU-486. The demonstrators were cited for blocking entry to a federal building. (Related opinion, page 9.)

The White House announced plans for Bush's first trip abroad: to Mexico Feb. 16. He is scheduled to meet with his counterpart there, Vicente Fox, to begin a process of establishing closer ties and expanding areas of cooperation between the countries, a spokesman said. (Related story, page 7.)

One-quarter of all US flights were delayed, canceled, or diverted in the first nine months of last year, a federal study found. In the case of delays, the average length of the problem exceeded 50 minutes. The study, by the Transportation Department's Office of Inspector General, also found that the number of runway incursions rose from 321 in 1999 to 429 last year. The majority of those incidents involved small private aircraft, a senior official in the Federal Aviation Administration said.

The Supreme Court agreed to decide whether federal law can attack child pornography by banning computer-generated pictures that don't involve real youths. At issue are two provisions passed in 1996 - before which the law only prohibited visual depictions of real children engaged in sexually explicit acts. A coalition of adult-oriented businesses argues that the new ban violates free-speech rights. A San Francisco-based federal appeals court agreed.

The justices also said they'd settle a dispute among established local telephone companies and upstart competitors that could affect consumer choices and prices. The court will look at a complicated fee structure set up to determine how much new competitors must pay for access to the network of existing phone lines. The fee setup is part of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which was supposed to foster competition in the local phone-service field.

Byron De La Beckwith, who died Sunday in Jackson, Miss., was the white supremacist convicted of assassinating civil rights leader Medgar Evers in the last of three trials spanning three decades. Evers, an NAACP field secretary, was shot in 1963 as he walked to his house.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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