News In Brief

Congress was poised to pass a compromise 2002 budget that includes a $1.35 trillion tax cut over 11 years - most of the $1.6 trillion, 10-year reduction President Bush had sought. Spending for many programs would grow by 4.9 percent, exceeding the 4 percent increase Bush proposed. The budget also allows about $300 billion - twice the initial amount - to overhaul Medicare and start prescription-drug benefits for older Americans. The budget still could be altered before lawmakers vote on final tax and spending bills.

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham warned that the national price for retail gasoline could average between $1.60 and $1.70 per gallon this summer, which could top the record of $1.68 a gallon set last June. Abraham told a House subcommittee that spikes in retail prices were likely because refineries are running at near capacity.

Bush was to issue a directive to federal facilities nationwide to lower consumption of electricity, particularly in power-strapped regions such as the West Coast. Federal buildings and military facilities were all likely targets of the effort. Federal buildings in California, for instance, would need to set thermostats higher and switch off escalators.

Penn State University students celebrated the end of an eight-day standoff after negotiating a deal with school officials to increase opportunities for black students. Hundreds of protesters had camped in the student union building, angered by the school's response to complaints about racism and several death threats against blacks. The administration agreed to strengthen the African and African-American Studies Department, create an "Africana" research center, and give the vice provost for educational equity more oversight authority.

The Pentagon said future relations with China's armed forces are under review, after withdrawing a directive from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to suspend all contact. Rear Adm. Craig Quigley said a Rumsfeld aide had "misinterpreted the secretary's intentions" by declaring in a memo a suspension of military-to-military relations. Instead, Quigley said, military involvement with China will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The move is seen as further complicating already tense bilateral relations.

Stanford University received what is believed to be the largest donation yet made to a US institution of higher learning: $400 million from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Money will go to build an endowment for the humanities and sciences and for undergrad scholarships. Hewlett, a 1934 Stanford grad, was co-founder of computer maker Hewlett-Packard.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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