News In Brief

Senate Republicans said they were poised to pass an 11-year, $1.35 trillion tax-cut package. Like President Bush's plan, the bill would cut income taxes across the board, reduce and eventually repeal the estate tax, ease the marriage penalty, and double the child credit to $1,000. If passed, negotiations would begin in a House-Senate conference committee on the shape of the ultimate bill. Republicans said they'll push to accelerate its cuts and to slash the top 39.6 percent marginal rate more deeply than the bill's 36 percent. They hope to send a final bill to Bush by week's end.

Ford Motor Co. plans to replace 10 to 13 million more Firestone tires on its vehicles - a move that could dwarf last summer's 6.5 million-tire recall. Ford said it is concerned with the safety of Firestone's Wilderness AT tires, which are standard on its Explorer, the world's top-selling sport utility vehicle. The tires have been linked to at least 174 traffic deaths and 700 injuries.

California's power-grid operator said it will start issuing forecasts gauging the likelihood of blackouts in a few weeks. In addition, the operator plans to release details, such as times and locations where blackouts can be expected, at least a half-hour in advance. Roughly 34 days' worth of blackouts are expected in the state this summer, making notification crucial. This year's series of last-minute blackouts have cost businesses millions.

The House approved 336 to 43 a four-month extension of a provision that allows illegal immigrants to remain in the US while seeking legal residency. The measure extends the April 30 deadline for about 200,000 undocumented aliens who did not file for legal residency even though they were eligible because they had close US family members or other legal sponsors. Bush supports the bill, but some Democrats favor a full-year extension. The measure goes to the Senate, where approval is likely.

Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian met with Mayor Rudolph Giuliani during his stopover in New York - a visit cleared by the Bush administration despite the opposition of mainland China. Chen's three-day visit is not expected to include public events, but Chen held talks with 21 congressmen and plans to tour the city. China believes granting Taiwanese officials visiting rights could further encourage the island to seek independence.

Students in urban public schools have improved their overall math scores in the past decade, while reading scores have gone largely unchanged, a study by the Council of the Great City Schools of the US's 55 largest urban districts found. Scores still remained below the national average, but researchers found that 52 districts raised math scores on state tests in more than half the grades tested.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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