News In Brief

For the first time since taking office, President Bush was to visit California for a scheduled meeting today with Gov. Gray Davis (D). Bush planned to discuss the state's energy crisis and White House efforts to promote conservation. Davis was expected to press his case for caps on wholesale electricity prices, which Bush has insisted would worsen the situation. Davis also wants an exemption from a rule that could increase gasoline prices.

The Treasury Department prepared to mail rebates of up to $600 each to millions of Americans after Congress passed a $1.35 trillion 10-year tax cut retroactive to the start of the year. Bush will sign the bill next month. Starting in September, married couples will receive checks of up to $600, single parents could receive $500, and single taxpayers will get up to $300.

Bush signed legislation that clears the way for construction of a $160 million World War II monument in a few months on Washington's National Mall. The measure ends lawsuits and procedural hitches that held up its building for years. Ex-President Clinton dedicated the 7.4-acre site in 1995, but many critics, among them veterans, said the monument's design was too large. A circle of granite pillars symbolizing states and territories and two four-story arches signifying victory in Europe and Asia will be built. Meanwhile, millions of veterans and their families attended Memorial Day ceremonies nationwide honoring the US's war dead. Above, World War II veteran Dominic Centorbi plays "Taps" at a ceremony in St. Clair Shores, Mich.

Gross domestic product, the nation's total output of goods and services, grew at an annual rate of just 1.3 percent from January to March, the Commerce Department reported. The figure is much lower than the government's estimate a month ago that the economy grew at a 2 percent rate in the first quarter. The biggest drag on growth came from companies struggling to sell off inventories.

Texas lawmakers passed legislation that would ban the execution of murderers proven to be mentally retarded. The bill passed 80 to 56 in the House and 20 to 9 in the Senate. Gov. Rick Perry (R) has not said whether he will sign the measure, which would convert a death sentence to life in prison if a trial jury finds a defendant is mentally retarded. Fifteen states and federal law prohibit such executions. Texas leads the nation in executions.

A federal appeals court lifted a publication ban on a parody of "Gone With the Wind," clearing the way for the printing of a book that tells the story of plantation life through the eyes of slaves rather than those of their white owners. A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta agreed with publisher Houghton Mifflin argument that "The Wind Done Gone" by Alice Randall was a parody of Margaret Mitchell's 1936 classic novel and therefore is protected under the First Amendment. The estate of Margaret Mitchell argued that the Randall book is an infringement of copyright law.


(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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