Nation digest 04/26/03

Saturday, April 26, 2003

Army secretary resigns his post; no reason given

WASHINGTON -- Army Secretary Thomas White, who has been at odds with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld over means of modernizing the Army, resigned Friday.

A brief Pentagon statement announcing the resignation gave no reason for White's decision. In the statement, Rumsfeld thanked White for his service and said that his departure date had not yet been determined.

White became engaged in a public dispute with Rumsfeld last year over the defense secretary's proposal to cancel the Crusader artillery project, which White said was vital to the Army's future. Rumsfeld decided it was not suited for wars of the future and eventually canceled the program.

U.S. economy edges upward in first quarter

WASHINGTON -- The economy overcame war worries and bad weather to eke out a small gain in the first three months of the year, easing fears that the nation was headed into another recession.

The Commerce Department reported Friday that the nation's gross domestic product -- the broadest measure of economic health -- grew at an anemic 1.6 percent rate from January through March.

That was only slightly better than the 1.4 percent GDP increase in the final three months of last year and far below the 4 percent from July through September of last year.

But the paltry increase from January through March did mean that GDP remained in positive territory, something that was not assured in February when economic activity nearly came to a standstill because of blizzards and anxiety about possible war in Iraq.

Prosecutor to seek death penalty in Peterson case

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The district attorney announced late Friday he will seek the death penalty against Scott Peterson, who was arrested last week on murder charges in the deaths of his wife and their unborn son.

Stanislaus County District Attorney James Brazelton made the announcement in a statement issued shortly after he met with family members of Laci Peterson.

The corpses of 27-year-old Laci Peterson and the unborn son they had planned to name Conner washed ashore in San Francisco Bay last week about three miles from where Peterson said he was fishing on Christmas Eve when his pregnant wife vanished.

Peterson, 30, a former fertilizer salesman, pleaded innocent at his arraignment Monday.

Georgia OKs new flag; no vote on rebel emblem

ATLANTA -- The Georgia Legislature voted Friday to change the state flag to a version that echoes the Confederate battle emblem, but without the familiar Dixie cross that had led black lawmakers to promise an economic boycott.

Lawmakers agreed to quash any possibility of a referendum on reviving the Confederate battle emblem, which black lawmakers called a symbol of oppression and which had been a part of the bill.

If the measure is approved by Gov. Sonny Perdue, Georgia voters next March will choose between the temporary flag and the current Georgia flag.

Black lawmakers cheered and some wept after the bill passed. The Senate voted 33-23 and the House approved the measure 91-86. Ninety-one votes were the simple majority needed for passage in the lower body.

"This gives the people a flag based on history, but yet looking to the future," said Democratic Sen. George Hooks, a white Democrat who helped design the temporary banner.

-- From wire reports

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