News In Brief

President Bush was to head to the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City, a conference aimed at bolstering democracy and commerce throughout the hemisphere. Bush was to join leaders from 33 democratic nations to discuss creating a "free trade area" that would open up borders by January 2005. But he has yet to request trade-promotion authority from Congress, which would bind lawmakers to yes-or-no votes on any commercial deal he signs. Without it, deals could be subject to changes by lawmakers. (Story, page 2.)

The shuttle Endeavour was set to blast off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., carrying a huge robotic arm to aid construction of the $95 billion International Space Station. The 58-foot-long arm is designed to carry tons of material in space and can also handle delicate experiments or hunt for leaks and frayed cables. Endeavour's crew includes four Americans, one Russian, an Italian, and a Canadian.

The muddy waters of the Mississippi River engulfed homes and pushed sandbag levees to their limits throughout Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota. Sixteen counties in Minnesota, nine in Wisconsin, and 10 in Iowa have declared or posted states of emergency. Meanwhile, flood preparations were under way across from Iowa in Moline and Rock Island, Ill. The river has begun receding in parts of Wisconsin, and is expected to crest in Iowa next week.

A months-long investigation into the 1999 EgyptAir crash off the East Coast concluded that pilot Gamil al-Battuti's actions were to blame. Dismissing Egyptian protests, aviation experts ruled out all potential mechanical problems and said Battuti did, in fact, push forward on the controls, putting the plane into a dive that killed all 217 people aboard. But the National Transportation Safety Board report didn't speculate on a motive.

The Federal Communications Commission voted 3 to 1 to relax a rule that prevents one TV network from owning another - a decision that allows Viacom Inc.'s ownership of CBS and UPN to continue. Under the action, one of the four major networks can belong to the same company as a smaller, emerging network. The FCC, did, however, keep in place a prohibition on two of the major networks merging. But it's expected to further ease controls on media ownership - something critics believe could really hurt market diversity and competition. (Related story, page 2.)

Bush announced the US's intention to sign a global treaty aimed at reducing the release of deadly pesticides and industrial chemicals into the environment. The so-called "persistent organic pollutants," known as POPS, are chemicals used as pesticides, industrial chemicals, or are byproducts from combustion. Under the treaty, all countries would be required to stop production of the highly dangerous pollutants and new uses of POPs, with limited exceptions. None of the pesticides are in use in the US now. (Related story, page 1.)

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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