News In Brief

President Bush said he can support a form of relief for electricity rate-payers in California that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was expected to pass as the Monitor went to press. The plan stops short of demands by Democrats in Congress and in the beleaguered state for a strict cap on wholesale power prices. The FERC plan is a compromise that would expand to the entire West a limit that applies only when California officials declare a power emergency.

A lower-court ruling that students may pray as a group at football games, commencements, and other public school-related activities was allowed to stand by the Supreme Court. Without comment or dissent, the justices refused to hear arguments in an Alabama case they had sent back to an appeals court last year for further review. They also rejected an appeal by convicted murderer Juan Raul Garza to avoid execution today at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind.

The Navy was delaying plans for the resumption of bombing practice on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, but a spokes-man denied it was because of reports that at least 30 civilian protesters had invaded the range and were hiding there. Eight people were arrested. Although the bombs used are inert and Bush has announced the practice will end within two years, a protest leader said that is too long to wait.

A bill that would have banned the execution of mentally ill prisoners in Texas was vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry (R). He called the measure legally flawed and unnecessary, noting that current law already protects death-row inmates who score low on intelligence tests. Critics said Perry missed "an historic opportunity" to show that the Texas justice system is compassionate.

A DNA testing program that could free wrongly convicted prison inmates in New Jersey will give priority to those serving time for murder or sexual assault, state officials said. The program, one of the nation's first, will require that convicts even on parole first pass a lie-detector test and sign a form acknowledging that their genetic material could be used in investigations of other crimes.

Tropical storm Allison left its final mark on the US, dumping up to 10 inches of rain on areas of Pennsylvania and southern New England before moving out over the Atlantic. It was blamed for a natural gas explosion and fire near Philadelphia that killed at least four people, flooding that closed key roads, and the cancellation of about 200 flights at Boston's Logan Airport.

Fossils of two "truly bizarre" species of dinosaur have been found less than a mile apart in New Mexico's Zuni Basin, paleontologists announced. They classified one species as a nothronychus, a plant-eating biped that stood at least 10 feet tall and was up to 20 feet long. The other was a coelurosaur, a predator about three feet tall and more than seven feet long.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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