USA

In a decision that European Union officials said could set off a trade war, President Bush will impose tariffs of as much as 30 percent on most imported steel products, the White House said. The tariffs mainly would affect imports from China, Japan, South Korea, Ukraine, and Russia, aides said. Canada and Mexico would be exempt, as would developing nations such as Argentina, Thailand, and Turkey. The ailing steel industry had sought 40 percent, across-the-board tariffs, while US manufacturers, which rely on cheap steel, warned that any increase would force them to raise prices. The issue is considered likely to figure in several congressional races in November.

Egypt's desire to play host to an Israeli-Palestinian peace summit was to be the main topic of discussion as President Hosni Mubarak met with Bush at the White House. Mubarak wants Secretary of State Powell to attend the gathering, which would take up a Saudi proposal that offers Israel formal recognition by Arab states in return for the handover of territory captured in the 1967 Mideast war. US officials have expressed interest in the proposal, but say the intense level of violence precludes action on it for the present.

In a tentative settlement with 86 people who claim they were molested by a priest over the course of 30 years, Boston's Roman Catholic archdiocese agreed to pay as much as $30 million, The Boston Globe reported. The priest, John Geoghan, now retired, was convicted last month of child molestation. The scandal prompted Catholic dioceses around the US to suspend priests accused of sexual abuse of minors and, in some cases, to turn over their names to law- enforcement authorities. Critics say the response is an overreaction that tramples on the men's civil rights.

At least three people were reported killed by a gunman outside the Isabella County Courthouse in Mount Pleasant, Mich. As the Monitor went to press, local news reports said police had surrounded the home of a suspect in the shooting.

Retail sales at discount, chain, and department stores rose 0.7 percent in the four weeks that ended March 2 compared with the previous month, Instinet Research said in its weekly Redbook Retail Sales Average report. The news followed two days of strong gains on Wall Street, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended Monday at 10,586.82, the highest close since July 19.

A reputed nuclear fusion discovery has stirred a tempest in three coffeecups. That's the size of the tabletop device that researchers at Tennessee's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, of Troy, N.Y., used to produce what they term "bubble fusion." They published the results of their experiment in the journal Science. But other scientists contend their findings are inaccurate. The Oak Ridge facility conducts research for the Department of Energy. (Story, page 2.)

The Monitor's Mary Wiltenburg and Andy Nelson were named first-place winners by the Education Writers Association in its 2001 national reporting awards. Their story and photo essay, "Acting with Conviction," about a theater program for prisoners, won the features category for newspapers with a circulation of fewer than 100,000.

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