News In Brief

Residents of Puerto Rico's Vieques Island were expected to pass a nonbinding referendum that would ban the Navy from conducting military bombing exercises immediately. The vote also calls for the Navy to clean up and return the land it owns. Puerto Rico's government was hoping the referendum would speed the Navy's departure after almost 60 years of military exercises that have sparked massive protests. A legally binding referendum Nov. 6 will let residents choose between a Navy withdrawal by 2003 or allowing it to stay.

A Florida judge sentenced 14-year-old Nathaniel Brazill to 28 years in prison without parole for the fatal shooting of his middle-school teacher. Brazill, who was tried as an adult, had faced a minimum of 25 years up to life for killing Barry Grunow at Lake Worth Middle School more than a year ago. He was convicted in May of second-degree murder. Brazill's lawyer announced plans to appeal.

The GOP-led House voted 218 to 189 to reinstate tougher standards for arsenic in drinking water that the Clinton administration established but that President Bush suspended for further review. Nineteen Republicans joined Democrats in the vote. Environmental Protection Agency chief Christine Todd Whitman, withdrew the higher standards in March, saying there was insufficient scientific evidence to justify the $200 million it would cost municipalities and industry each year. The new standard is 10 parts per billion of arsenic in water, in line with World Health Organization levels. The current level of 50 has stood since 1942.

The economy experienced its worst growth rate in eight years in the spring, slowing to a 0.7 percent annual rate as businesses slashed spending and consumers bought more cautiously, the Commerce Department reported. The rate contrasts sharply with the 4 percent-plus growth rates the US experienced in the late 1990s.

An Amtrak passenger train derailed early Sunday in a rural area of southeastern Missouri that had been hit by heavy rain and flash flooding. At least five passengers were injured. The Dallas-bound Texas Eagle left Chicago with 174 passengers and 12 crew members. An Amtrak spokeswoman said the accident may have been caused by flooding on the tracks.

Eighty percent of Americans say children are more spoiled today than 10 years ago, and two-thirds of parents say their offspring are very or somewhat spoiled, a Time magazine poll reported. Half of the respondents said their children play too much of a role in everyday decisions; 35 percent said they were more permissive with their kids than their parents had been with them, while 75 percent said children have fewer chores to do than those of 10 to 15 years ago.

Firefighters near Jackson, Wyo., battled for the eighth straight day a forest blaze that has grown to 4,800 acres and come within five miles of the town. The fire, apparently sparked by an abandoned campfire, threatens homes of 1,300 residents. Strong winds and low humidity, which fan the fire, were expected for several more days.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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