News In Brief

After a two-week break, Congress returned to work on education reform and tax cuts - issues at the heart of President Bush's domestic priorities. The education bill would require mandatory student testing, give states more leeway in how they spend federal funds, and dedicate $5 billion to help children learn to read by the third grade. Under a compromise, the Senate would not include Bush's private-school voucher plan, but would allow students in failing schools to use federal funding to pay for tutoring or to attend another public school. Bush is still negotiating with Democrats over their demand for more federal money for public schools.

House and Senate negotiators were to begin grappling with differences in their approach to the federal budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. The House approved a proposal that endorsed Bush's 10-year, $1.6 trillion tax cut. But the Senate, in its final act before its recess, adopted a package that includes a $1.2 trillion tax break and more spending than the president wants. A vote on a compromise could come by week's end.

The pilot of a missionary plane shot down over the Amazon jungle by the Peruvian Air Force followed procedures and had filed a flight plan, the American missionary group said. A US antidrug surveillance pilot located the missionary plane Friday for the Peruvian Air Force, which mistook it for a drug carrier, killing an American woman and her baby. Her husband, their son, and the pilot survived. Peru's Air Force said it fired after the plane failed to heed warnings to land. But missionaries' relatives say the plane obtained clearance to land moments before the incident.

Gasoline prices soared almost 13 cents a gallon in the past two weeks even though oil prices remained steady, analyst Trilby Lundberg said. The average price at the pump, including all grades and taxes, was $1.67 last week, up 12.69 cents from April 6, the Lundberg Survey of 8,000 US stations reported. Not adjusting for inflation, it was the largest two-week rise since the survey began 50 years ago. Supplies are tight because environmental rules for summer require expensive refining to cut down on smog.

A powerful spring storm hit the Rockies and northern plains dumping at least a foot of snow, shutting down highways, and causing power outages. At least 20 inches of snow fell in Rapid City, S.D., breaking a 1902 record. Winds gusted up to 50 m.p.h. in areas of Colorado.

Communities across the US celebrated Earth Day Sunday, organizing clean-ups, plantings, and parades.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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