News In Brief

California will have about 260 hours of rotating electricity blackouts this summer, or 60 hours more than regional authorities initially predicted, the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) predicted. The Northwest, which produces hydropower, will be able to meet its own demand, but will have no extra power to sell California this summer because of drought conditions, NERC said. Texas, New England, and New York City also face threats of summer outages.

The number of Americans living alone grew rapidly in the 1990s, and for the first time less than 25 percent of all households consisted of married couples with children, the Census Bureau reported. According to the 2000 Census, 26 percent of all households consisted of single people, while those with married couples and children dropped to 23.5 percent from 25.6 percent in 1990. In 1940, less than 8 percent of all households consisted of singles. In addition, the number of unmarried people living as couples increased 72 percent between 1990 and 2000 - to 5.47 million. Demographers attribute the shift to factors such as couples delaying marriage, a higher divorce rate, and faster growth of single-parent families.

New York Gov. George Pataki (R) proposed a statewide ban on driving while using a handheld cellphone - a move other states also are considering amid concerns about whether drivers using the devices are more likely to crash. The infraction would carry a fine of $25 to $100, Pataki said. Restrictions on driver cellphone use have been proposed in 40 states. Connecticut appears closest to enactment.

The FBI found seven more documents that should have been turned over to defense lawyers for the trial of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, in addition to the 3,135 misplaced pages that forced a 30-day delay in his execution. The additional documents were discovered in the FBI's Baltimore field office May 10 and have been sent to the defense team. Officials maintained that while all the documents should have been turned over to McVeigh's lawyers, they don't cast doubt on his guilt.

A jury of five women and three men was selected to hear what's believed to be the US's first polygamy trial in 50 years. Tom Green, who lives with his five wives and 25 of his 29 children in the Utah desert, faces four counts of bigamy and one count of failing to pay child support. If convicted, he could serve up to 25 years in prison.

Rejecting the Bush administration's plan to overhaul US energy policies, House Democrats were to announce details of their own version, which would focus on conservation and energy-efficiency measures. Vice President Cheney is to unveil the White House plan tomorrow, focusing on increasing oil and natural-gas supplies by letting energy firms drill on Western lands, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Democrats said they'll propose encouraging the federal government to rein in price increases for electricity and give consumers tax credits to buy vehicles that use less gasoline.

The Senate voted 74 to 23 for an amendment to create a clearing house for combating violence at US schools, expanding the scope of President Bush's education reform plan in the wake of shootings in California, Colorado, and other states. The proposed National Center for School Safety would establish an "emergency response system" to tighten classroom security and provide psychological counseling to victims of campus violence. The amendment also would create a telephone hotline for students to report criminal activity. The plan would cost about $25 million in 2002.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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