News In Brief

The Federal Reserve is widely expected to cut interest rates by a half-point tomorrow - for the fourth time this year - in an effort to rev up the economy and stem a recession. Since January, the Fed has hacked 2 percentage points off the federal-funds rate, the rate which governs overnight loans between banks, putting it at 4.5 percent.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) signed controversial hate-crimes legislation that strengthens penalties for offenses motivated by a victim's race, religion, sexual preference, national origin, and other factors. The James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act was named for the black man who was dragged to death from a pickup truck in 1998 by three whites. Perry's predecessor, George W. Bush, refused to support the bill two years ago, saying all crimes are hate crimes.

President Bush is to emphasize conservation and alternative fuels when he unveils his energy strategy this week, including a package of tax incentives and other ideas for saving fuel and power in homes, industry, and on the road, administration sources said. But the plan also aims to bring new supplies to the market. Parts of his proposal would clear the way for more coal mines, oil refineries, gas pipelines, and nuclear reactors, officials said.

Timothy McVeigh and his lawyers were considering whether to seek a further delay in his execution, which had been scheduled for Wednesday but was postponed until June 11. Attorney General John Ashcroft announced the delay after the FBI admitted it failed to show defense lawyers some 3,135 pages of evidence in the Oklahoma City bombing case. These materials consisted of interview notes and evidence such as photographs, letters, and tapes, none of which reportedly would strengthen McVeigh's case. Ashcroft said he would not impose any further delays. Officials were investigating why materials were withheld or misplaced.

Meanwhile, lawyers for Terry Nichols, who was convicted of conspiracy in the Oklahoma City bombing, said they filed an appeal with the Supreme Court. Denver attorney John Richilano said they are asking for a new trial in light of the FBI's withheld evidence.

Perry Como, who died Saturday in Jupiter Inlet Beach Colony, Fla., was famous for his relaxed vocals, cardigan sweaters, and TV Christmas specials. The baritone star performed over 70 years, beginning in the 1930s after leaving his job as a barber in suburban Pittsburgh to sing with big bands. His songs became a mainstay of radio and jukeboxes in the 1940s. He debuted on TV in 1948, and in 1963 began doing occasional specials. Among his hits: "Till the End of Time," "Prisoner of Love," and "Hot Diggity."

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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