News In Brief

A second ex-Ku Klux Klansman was convicted in the bombing of a Birmingham, Ala., church that killed four black girls as they prepared for services in 1963. The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church had been a gathering place for civil-rights protests. A jury of eight whites and four blacks listened to a week's testimony and evidence, including audiotape secretly recorded 37 years earlier, before finding Thomas Blanton Jr. guilty of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison.

The House again was expected to pass a bill that would expand contribution limits for IRAs and 401(k) plans and encourage more companies to offer retirement pensions. The bill won overwhelming House support last year but never made it out of the Senate. The measure would gradually raise tax-deferred contribution limits for IRAs from $2,000 to $5,000 by 2004 and for 401(k)s from $10,500 to $15,000 by 2006. People ages 50 and up would get "catch-up" provisions raising their limits more quickly.

President Bush named a 16-member bipartisan commission to recommend overhauling the Social Security System. Bush wants to give enrollees the option of investing some of their Social Security withholding in private markets. Ex-New York Sen. Daniel Moynihan (D) and AOL Time Warner executive Richard Parsons will cochair the commission. Democrats criticized Bush for naming a panel they think has too many supporters of private accounts, which they say are too risky. Bush believes such accounts would help boost returns from a system that will face further financial strains as baby-boomers retire. (Story, page 1.)

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres was to hold talks with Secretary of State Powell and Bush in Washington in what could set the stage for a resumption of Middle East peace negotiations - provided seven months of violence ends. Peres offered Palestinians hope for concessions and an overall peace accord, saying Israel "will be ready to make painful compromises" and that no new Jewish settlements would be built on the West Bank or Gaza Strip. Bush has shifted his hands-off policy to diplomatic efforts to restart negotiations.

Police arrested about 100 people at a May Day demonstration in Long Beach, Calif., after some in the crowd threw hammers, bottles, and other objects at officers. Nationwide, thousands of mostly nonviolent protesters gathered in such cities as Chicago, Pittsburgh, Albany, N.Y., and Portland, Ore., to call for better wages and health benefits for workers and more rights for immigrant laborers. International Workers Day, as it also is called, is more widely celebrated in Europe.

Girls under 18 are the fastest- growing segment of the US prison population, an American Bar Association report said. Between 1988 and 1997, the detention of girls increased 65 percent, compared to 30 percent for boys. Law-enforcement agencies in 1999 reported 670,800 arrests of girls - 27 percent of juvenile arrests. Overall juvenile crime rates have steadily decreased since 1994, however.


(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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