News In Brief

As the standoff over the detained crew of a downed US surveillance plane in China entered a second week, President Bush warned that a quick resolution was "crucial" to avoid further damaging bilateral relations. Continued delay in sending the 24 Americans home also could affect Capitol Hill, members of Congress warned. They cited a coming decision on weapons sales to Taiwan and possible opposition to renewing normal US-Chinese trade relations. The Americans have been held since their plane made an emergency landing on Hainan island April 1 after colliding over international waters with a Chinese fighter jet.

Bush sent Congress details of his $1.96 trillion budget, promising to restrain "excessive growth" of government spending by trimming programs from energy conservation to putting police on city streets. Cuts would occur in 10 of the government's 25 major agencies, with the biggest trims at the agriculture and transportation departments. The cuts make room for Bush's proposed 10-year tax cut, while also using a projected $5.6 trillion surplus to pay down the federal debt. The 2002 budget seeks a 5.6 percent increase over this year and holds discretionary spending to a 4 percent increase, far below this year's 8.7 percent surge. It also would boost discretionary spending at the Education Department by 11.5 percent, the biggest increase for any agency.

Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill said the US economy is working through a correction, but continues to grow modestly. O'Neill told reporters after a cabinet meeting on Bush's budget proposal that the medium- and long-term potential of the US and global economy was "monumental."

Emergency crews and National Guardsmen were piling sandbags to try to protect communities in the eastern Dakotas and Minnesota against rising rivers. Flooding has already blocked highways and washed out some rural roads. And more rain was forecast, adding to rapidly melting snow. The focus of flood preparations was the Red River, which flows north along the Minnesota-North Dakota line and is expected to crest as high as 45 feet at Fargo, N.D., tomorrow or Thursday.

Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Stargell, who died in Wilmington, N.C., helped the Pittsburgh Pirates win the 1971 and 1979 World Series as well as six National League divisional titles. In his 20-year career, Stargell hit 475 home runs, many of them for record-setting distances. Nicknamed "Pops," he was a fatherly presence on the field, distributing stars for extra effort by his teammates. He retired in 1982.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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