News In Brief

After postponing a vote last week, the House was expected to pass a compromise $1.95 trillion 2002 budget - the first step toward enacting large tax cuts and spending restraints favored by President Bush. The budget calls for a $1.35 trillion, 11-year tax cut and 4 percent spending growth - half of this year's increase - for many federal programs. Bush had initially sought a $1.6 trillion tax cut but accepted a compromise. The budget sets spending guidelines lawmakers are supposed to follow when writing bills for federal and tax programs, but it can be altered before final bills are passed later. The Senate was to vote on the bill today.

Hot weather, high energy demand, and short supplies in California forced a second consecutive day of rolling blackouts from San Diego to Sacramento. Grid operators cut power for two hours, affecting 300,000 customers, closing businesses, and causing traffic jams when signals went dark. It was the sixth day of rolling blackouts this year. Grid operators warned there would be more this week.

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld announced a Pentagon reorganization plan that he said aims to protect US satellites from hostile attack and is intended to promote American space interests. The plan would put the Air Force in charge of planning and purchasing decisions for all space programs and would place such programs under two interlocking commands, each headed by a four-star general. Arms-control advocates said military threats in space are unfounded and that the plan serves to extend US superpower influence into space.

Northwest Airlines mechanics and cleaners easily approved a new, four-year contract reached after more than four years of negotiations and a near-walkout. The deal would make Northwest mechanics the industry's highest-paid, raising their wages by an average of 24.4 percent. Mechanics will also more than double their pensions. The pay of cleaners and custodians would rise an average of 13 percent. They had been poised to strike this spring before President Bush ordered a cooling-off period.

Harvard University students ended a 21-day sit-in that called for higher wages for campus workers. Under the settlement, students and the school agreed to form a committee to make recommendations on employment policies for lower-paid workers. Harvard won't raise wages until after it receives the suggestions. Protesters had occupied President Neil Rudenstine's office, demanding the Ivy League school pay its workers a minimum hourly wage of $10.25. Harvard said only 400 of its 13,500 regular workers make less than $10 an hour. Above, students celebrate the end of the sit-in.

Bush intends to nominate prominent securities lawyer Harvey Pitt as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, a White House official said. Pitt was general counsel of the commission in the 1970s but still must be confirmed by the Senate.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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