News In Brief

The US economy grew at an annual rate of just 1.0 percent - the weakest performance in more than five years - during the last three months of 2000, the Commerce Department reported in a revised estimate of fourth-quarter gross domestic product. The new measure of GDP, or the total output of goods and services, was slower than previously thought. The economy was hit by a drop in spending on big-ticket items by businesses and consumers, the Commerce Department said.

A final vote in the Senate on a sweeping campaign-finance reform bill was expected by this weekend. As the Monitor went to press, the bill's main goals remained intact, including a ban on the largely unregulated "soft money" donations that corporations, unions, and wealthy individuals give to political parties - and to restrict, in the final 60 days of an election, issue ads, which are barely disguised attacks on or defenses of candidates.

The House was expected to pass a 10-year, $400 billion tax cut for married couples that would include the 25 million who pay more than they would if they were single. The measure, part of President Bush's $1.6 trillion tax-cut proposal, also would gradually double the $500 child tax credit, including a $100 increase that would be effective this year.

In his first meeting with Bush, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder was to convey Europe's dismay over a White House decision to ignore the 1997 Kyoto global warming pact. That treaty requires industrial nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2012 to below-1990 levels. Bush said he plans to work with Germany and other allies to craft an alternative global pact. Schroder also was expected to discuss European misgivings about the administration's plans for a missile-defense system and about US-Russian tensions.

Speaking out against the "tragic cycle of incitement" in the Middle East, Bush said he'll meet Monday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the following week with Jordan's King Abdullah to seek help in defusing tensions in the region. Bush's statement came a day after Israel's bombardment of Palestinian strongholds in the West Bank and in Gaza. Bush also asked Secretary of State Colin Powell to call Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and to contact "other leaders and urge them to stand against violence."

A federal grand jury indicted at least four members of an alleged Hizbullah support ring in Charlotte, N.C. Prosecutors said they believe the men were part of an 18-member organization that gave cash, night-vision goggles, radars, and other military equipment to support the Lebanon-based Islamic group, an avowed enemy of Israel. The group, reportedly Lebanese immigrants, is accused of helping Hizbullah plan violent attacks worldwide.

Remember to set your clocks ahead. Daylight saving time begins at 2 a.m. Sunday.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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