News In Brief

About 500 FBI employees with access to confidential data were to begin taking lie-detector tests today, the agency said. Workers - from assistant directors to clerks - will face reassignment if they refuse. The expanded security policy follows charges that agent Robert Hanssen spied for Russia while working in counterintelligence jobs. Hanssen never took a polygraph. Director Louis Freeh also requested reviews of "sensitive" cases to determine whether agents have viewed or tried to view information outside their normal duties.

Authorities believe a vice principal was the target of a student who fired several shots at Granite Hills High School in El Cajon, Calif., late last week. Jason Hoffman wounded four people before he was shot by a campus police officer. No one was killed. It was the second school shooting in a month in the district, which also includes Santana High School. A freshman there killed two students March 5. Officials didn't say why the vice principal, who escaped unhurt, was targeted. Hoffman will be charged with attempted murder and assault.

Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove (D) signed a law mandating all public schools display "In God We Trust" in classrooms, cafeterias, and auditoriums. The American Civil Liberties Union has threatened to sue on grounds that requiring a reference to God in classrooms violates the constitutional guarantee of separation of church and state. Supporters say the slogan will withstand a court battle because it is the US motto and appears on money. Maryland has rejected a similar requirement.

President Bush signaled support for a Senate plan to accelerate tax relief with a $60 billion reduction this year, retroactive to Jan. 1. Democrats and Republicans both support immediate tax relief to help stem a sliding economy, but they disagree on whether to pass cuts for 2001 as a stand-alone bill or attach them to Bush's 10-year, $1.6 trillion plan. Bush also said he had not ruled out including a "trigger mechanism" in his plan to rein in future tax cuts if the budget surplus does not materialize.

Bush ended the liberal-leaning American Bar Association's preferential, half-century role in vetting prospective nominees to the federal bench. In a letter to the ABA, White House counsel Al Gonzales said granting a single group such a "preferential role" in the process would be "unfair to others with a strong interest in judicial selection." Bush won't seek a substitute for the ABA.

The record number of people in federal prisons and jails increased to almost 1.9 million last June and will surpass 2 million late this year, the Justice Department reported. The department said the number went up by 3 percent over a 12-month period that ended June 30. Incarcerations rose sharply in the 1990s but have slowed in recent years, it said.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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