News In Brief

None of the five members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was disclosing how he or she will vote when the panel meets today to consider further limits on the cost of electricity for beleaguered California. Speculation has centered on a compromise plan that would expand to the entire West a "price mitigation" already in effect in California. The measure limits wholesale electricity prices in cases when the state declares a severe emergency. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham told The Washington Times the Bush administration would not object to additional restrictions on rates but is "unalterably opposed" to driving prices "below market levels."

President Bush returned to Washington from his six-nation tour of Europe with an agreement for two more summit meetings with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. The first will be at Bush's Texas ranch or in the capital on an unspecified date in the fall; the second will come later in Russia, although the two will cross paths again next month at the Group of Eight conference in Genoa, Italy. In a news conference before leaving for home, Bush said US-Russian relations do not hinge on his controversial proposal for a national missile defense system.

Barring a last-minute grant of clemency, Mexican-American Juan Raul Garza is scheduled to be executed tomorrow at the same federal prison where Timothy McVeigh was put to death last week. Garza, a self-confessed narcotics trafficker, has admitted killing one man and ordering the deaths of two others. Bush had not responded to Garza's appeal for a reprieve as the Monitor went to press.

An attempt to raise the sunken fishing trawler Ehime Maru from the Pacific Ocean floor off Hawaii was announced by Navy officials late Friday. The Japanese vessel went down Feb. 9 after it was struck by the submarine USS Greeneville, straining relations between the Japanese and US governments. The remains of nine crewmen and high-school students are believed to be aboard, along with 45,000 gallons of fuel. Navy officials put the cost of the salvage attempt at $40 million.

By a 317-to-208 vote, leaders of the Presbyterian Church (USA) overturned a five-year-old ban on ordaining homosexuals. The move still must be ratified by a majority of regional presbyteries within one year before it can take effect. The church currently has 21,000 ordained ministers.

US Sen. Evan Bayh (D) of Indiana took himself out of the running for his party's 2004 presidential nomination, citing the fact that "my children will only be five once." Bayh, viewed as a rising star in his party, is chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, a post formerly held by ex-President Clinton and 2000 vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman.

A parade and pep rally are scheduled for today to honor the Los Angeles Lakers for their second consecutive National Basketball Association championship. The team clinched the title Friday night in a five-game series by defeating the Philadelphia 76ers 108-96. Unlike last year's championship aftermath, police made few arrests and no property damage was reported.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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