News In Brief

President Bush was to make a strong pitch for a missile-defense shield to protect the US and its allies from rogue attacks. In a speech at the National Defense University in Washington, Bush was to mark the start of intense discussions with allies on development of such a defense, aides said. He also telephoned leaders in Europe and Russia, who are wary of the plan, to lay the groundwork for high-level talks next week. The president was to link the deployment with cuts in the US nuclear arsenal, perhaps without negotiating reciprocal cuts by Russia, aides said. A shield would violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which banned such a system to prevent arms races.

FBI Director Louis Freeh announced he will leave his post in June, but did not say what he expects to do next. Freeh, appointed by President Clinton in 1993, would have been allowed to serve a 10-year term lasting until 2003 as head of the federal law-enforcement agency. President Bush had asked Freeh, a former federal prosecutor and judge in New York, to remain as FBI chief. He has spent 27 years working in government.

House and Senate Republicans tentatively agreed to push for an 11-year, $1.35 trillion tax cut, GOP aides and lawmakers said. The deal would give Bush most of the $1.6 trillion reduction he wants. Under the deal, taxes would be cut by $1.25 trillion between 2002 and 2011 - $350 billion less than Bush had insisted on. There'd also be a $100 billion tax cut aimed at stimulating the economy that would be enacted this year but would cover 2001 and 2002.

Thousands of Seattle teachers walked off their jobs for one day to protest state education funding proposals, keeping more than 70,000 students out of school. Last November, Washington voters approved an initiative to cut class sizes and another mandating cost-of-living raises for school workers. But because of proposed budget cuts, money for cutting class sizes may instead have to be used to maintain existing programs. Spending plans provide cost-of-living raises only to school staffers paid by the state, leaving local districts to cover the rest.

Fugitive financier Marc Rich and his business partner pledged $1 million a year to a charity run by his ex-wife, Denise Rich, just prior to receiving presidential pardons, The New York Times reported. The combined donations would have been the largest yet received by the charity. Denise Rich, a generous donor to the Democratic Party, won the pardon hours before President Clinton left office Jan. 20. Prosecutors are investigating whether any laws were broken in the process.

Drinking and driving by teenagers has declined by almost one-fifth in states with stricter laws on alcohol use, results of a new poll of high-school seniors shows. The 30-state survey, which appears in the American Journal of Public Health, shows policies discouraging risky drinking especially have affected young people, said study author Alexander Wagenaar. The survey also noted a decline in alcohol-related car crashes in states with the stricter 0.02 blood- alcohol level for under-21 drivers.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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