Nation briefs 8/3/05

Anti-Roberts interest groups blitz Internet sites

WASHINGTON -- Interest groups troubled by John Roberts' record are blitzing Internet sites and airwaves in hopes of building public support for the Senate to take a close look at the Supreme Court nominee. To keep a spotlight on Roberts during the summer doldrums, the initiative includes visits to newspaper editorial boards, rallies, petition drives and the first television ads purchased by liberal groups. Confirmation hearings begin Sept. 6. Many of these organizations took a low-key approach after President Bush's selection of Roberts two weeks ago but have become more vocal in light of documents they say show he is hostile to civil rights.

June figures show good signs for economy

WASHINGTON -- Consumers rediscovered their appetite for shopping in June, boosting spending by a strong 0.8 percent. It was fresh testament to the economy's momentum as it headed into the third quarter. The monthly increase in spending, reported by the Commerce Department on Tuesday, came after consumers tightened their belts in May, leaving spending flat. Incomes, the fuel for future spending, grew at a nice clip of 0.5 percent in June, better than the 0.2 percent gain registered in the previous month. The pickup in income growth dovetailed with an improvement in the jobs climate in June, when the unemployment rate fell to 5 percent, a nearly four-year low.

Bush signs CAFTA bill after close Congress vote

WASHINGTON -- President Bush's signature Tuesday put the final touch on the Central America Free Trade Agreement, an accord with six Latin American countries that Congress barely approved after a bruising battle over the future of U.S. trade policy, which ended in a 217-215 vote in the House. The agreement, with Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, removes trade barriers and opens up the region to U.S. goods and services.

-- From wire reports