News In Brief
The Supreme Court limited the reach of the Americans With Disabilities Act, ruling that state workers cannot file employment-discrimination lawsuits under the 1990 law. The 5-to-4 ruling continues a court trend of cutting back the federal government's power over the states. The case focused on two Alabama state employees who had been allowed by a federal appeals court to sue over alleged bias. (Story, page 1.)
Giving new life to inflation jitters, the Labor Department reported that US consumer prices shot up 0.6 percent last month - the biggest increase in 10 months and double what some analysts were expecting. The figure reflected a record 17.4 percent gain in the price of natural gas. Also, electricity costs rose 2.6 percent, the biggest increase since last February, and housing costs were up 1.0 percent, the most since June 1982.
Meanwhile, the Commerce Department said the US trade deficit rose to an all-time high of $369.7 billion last year, even though the December deficit shrank for the third straight month. China overtook perennial front-runner Japan as the country with which the US has the largest trade gap.
President Bush was to announce plans to boost spending on elementary and secondary education in the coming year by $1.6 billion, or 8 percent, White House aides said. The move is part of a budget increase for the Department of Education that will surpass expansions at any other cabinet-level agency. Bush has been traveling through the middle part of the US this week to drum up support for his education and tax-cut proposals.
More findings emerged from the investigation into the sinking of a Japanese fishing boat by a US submarine Feb. 9. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the Navy has determined that the Greeneville's sonar detected the trawler 71 minutes before the two vessels collided. But periscope sweeps immediately before the incident didn't spot the Ehime Maru. A crew member also told the NTSB that civilians aboard the sub were "distracting" and that he was unable to finish plotting sonar blips. But the NTSB wasn't sure yet whether that was a factor in the accident.
Two days late and short on supplies, the shuttle Atlantis landed Tuesday at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The backup site was used because of bad weather over Cape Canaveral, Fla. Atlantis's mission featured the delivery of the $1.4 billion Destiny laboratory to the international space station.
Napster, whose free online song-swapping service faces an uphill legal battle, offered $1 billion to the recording industry to settle the copyright-infringement case. The Internet company believes it can generate the money through monthly subscriptions to its service. But analysts doubted EMI, Sony, Universal, and Warner would accept the offer.
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