News In Brief

Environmentalists led by the Sierra Club, criticized President Bush's energy plan, saying it should support more energy efficiency and development of renewable energy rather than increase supplies of oil, gas, and nuclear energy. Bush's plan, which calls the US's energy shortages the worst since the 1970s oil embargoes, proposes $1.5 billion in tax incentives to facilitate the building of nuclear power plants and recommends drilling for oil in an Arctic wildlife refuge. It also wants $2 billion to help develop technology to burn coal with less pollution.

The Dow Jones industrial Average peaked above 11,000 for the first time in eight months, amid growing optimism that days of incessant selloffs are coming to an end. As the Monitor went to press, the Dow advanced 42.68 to 11,258.60, adding to the 342.95 gain Wednesday. Technology stocks also rose, extending the Nasdaq index's nearly 4 percent gain Wednesday. The reasons for gains include encouraging economic data and five interest-rate cuts by the Fed this year.

The University of California rescinded its ban on affirmative-action admission and hiring policies - even though such programs remain prohibited by state law. In a largely symbolic move, the board of regents, which in 1995 took the lead in the US to end affirmative-action policies, voted unanimously to scrap the internal ban and to focus instead on inclusion. In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 209, which prohibits race- and gender-based preference policies. The ban has been blamed for sharp declines in minority enrollment at top state schools.

A Florida jury convicted a 14-year-old boy of second-degree murder for shooting his English teacher, rejecting the more serious charge of first-degree murder that could have put him in prison for life without parole. Nathaniel Brazill, who insisted he accidentally shot his teacher, Barry Grunow, at Lake Worth Middle School last May, also was convicted of aggravated assault for pointing a pistol at a second teacher. He faces 25 years to life in prison. Sentencing was set for June 29.

A South Carolina woman was convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison for killing her unborn child by using crack cocaine late in her pregnancy. The verdict marks the first time a woman in the US has been found guilty of homicide for taking drugs during pregnancy. The state Supreme Court ruled in 1996 that mothers can be charged with abuse if they take drugs after their unborn children are able to live outside the womb. Critics said the case could open the door for prosecutors to charge women with neglect under other conditions, such as smoking. Lawyers plan to appeal.

The mayor of York, Penn., Charlie Robertson (D) surrendered on charges of murder in the 1969 shooting death of a black woman during race riots. While Robertson has admitted using racial slurs during the riots, he has denied this charge. An affidavit quotes a codefendant as saying Robertson, a policeman at the time, gave him the ammunition he used to fire at the victim's car and told him to "kill as many [blacks] as you can." Robertson's preliminary hearing was set for May 25.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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