News In Brief

President Bush proposed that the World Bank and other international lending institutions dramatically increase the number of grants instead of loans offered to poor countries, many of which are overburdened with accumulating debt. Bush suggested that up to 50 percent of overall funds be provided in the form of grants for education, health, nutrition, water supplies, and sanitation. Under the plan, the US would have to double its current $803 million annual contribution to keep the World Bank's pool of aid at current levels, bank officials said.

Manufacturing activity fell 0.7 percent in June, the ninth straight month of decline, the Federal Reserve reported. The drop in industrial production among factories, mines, and utilities was the sharpest since output fell 0.9 percent in January. The news provides further evidence that the manufacturing sector is bearing the brunt of a year-long economic slowdown.

An Alabama judge ruled that former Ku Klux Klansman Bobby Frank Cherry is mentally incompetent to stand trial for a 1963 church bombing that killed four black girls in Birmingham. Cherry allegedly was one of a handful of Klansmen who targeted the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, a rallying site for black demonstrators during the civil-rights era. Two other ex-Klansmen have been convicted of the crime. Prosecutors said unless the ruling is reversed, which appears unlikely, Cherry may never be tried.

Bush suspended for six months a law that allows US citizens and companies to sue foreign companies that invest in Cuban property confiscated after Fidel Castro's 1959 communist takeover. The move is a victory for European nations, many of whose firms have investments in Cuba, and a setback for Cuban-Americans, who lose the right to sue in federal court those using the seized property. Ex-President Clinton also waived the 1996 law every six months.

Between 4 million and 6 million votes went uncounted in the 2000 presidential election because of faulty equipment, mismarked ballots, registration errors, or other mistakes, a study by the California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology found. Researchers also reported that punch-card ballots, such as those used in Florida, have an error rate of 2.5 percent, the highest of any method used.

The Bush administration said it wants to delay and re-examine a Clinton-era program designed to clean up more than 20,000 polluted rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water. Under the plan, states would have eight to 13 years to begin implementing water-quality restoration plans. A National Academy of Sciences panel said earlier this year that Clinton moved ahead with the program without enough evidence to assure the right bodies of water were being targeted.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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