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Nation in brief

Budget raises rents for poor

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 11, 2003

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration is proposing to increase rents charged to thousands of poor people who receive federal housing aid.

The increase would be accomplished by changing three words in federal law. The minimum rent for tenants, which is "not more than $50" a month under current law, would have to be "at least $50" a month under President Bush's plan.

In the budget sent to Congress last week, the administration said the proposal was "intended to promote work" by residents of federally subsidized housing.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING: Nine major housing and lenders' groups acknowledged a severe shortage of affordable housing Monday and endorsed a plan to make more housing available to the poor.

The National Association of Home Builders, the National Association of Realtors and others created the proposal, which includes a housing tax credit similar to one Bush proposed in his 2004 budget and federal funds for construction.

Nixon press secretary Ron Ziegler dies at 63

SAN DIEGO -- Ron Ziegler, the former press secretary to President Richard Nixon who famously called the Watergate break-in a "third-rate burglary," died Monday (Feb. 10, 2003) of a heart attack, his wife said. He was 63.

Mr. Ziegler died at his home in Coronado, a suburb of San Diego, his wife, Nancy, told the Associated Press.

After leaving government service, Mr. Ziegler held a number of executive positions with private enterprise, most recently as chief executive of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. He retired in 1998.

Also . . .

ESPIONAGE TRIAL: The case against spy suspect Brian Patrick Regan went to a jury Monday in Alexandria, Va., after prosecutors argued that Regan, accused of offering U.S. secrets to Iraq, Libya and China, would have sold them "whatever they would have paid for." The jury deliberated about an hour, then broke for the night. Jurors were to take off today and resume deliberations Wednesday.

JONBENET RAMSEY CASE: The Boulder, Colo., Police Department said Monday that it has ended its investigation of the JonBenet Ramsey murder, handing over the case to the district attorney's office.

INMATE MAY BE EXECUTED: A federal appeals court Monday ruled that a paranoid schizophrenic inmate who is sane only when forced to take medication is eligible for death row. A sharply divided 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a stay of execution for Charles Singleton, saying his medically induced sanity makes him eligible for execution.

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