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Nation in brief

Kerry takes communion against a bishop's wish

By wire services
Published April 12, 2004

BOSTON - Despite the growing anxiety of several national Catholic leaders, Sen. John Kerry took communion here on Sunday at Easter services at the Paulist Center, a nontraditional church that describes itself as "a worship community of Christians in the Roman Catholic tradition."

Kerry's decision to take communion amounts to a challenge to several prominent Catholic bishops, who have become increasingly exasperated with politicians who are Catholic but who deviate from Catholic teaching.

Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, supports abortion rights and stem cell research, both of which are contrary to church teaching. Archbishop Sean O'Malley of Boston has not explicitly said that Kerry could not take communion, but he has suggested that Catholic politicians whose political views contradict Catholic teaching should voluntarily abstain, saying they "shouldn't dare come to communion."

KERRY TO CRITICIZE BUSH ON ECONOMY: Kerry heads to New Hampshire today and expects to have several Democratic colleagues around the country join in a coordinated attack on President Bush's handling of the economy.

In its ongoing attempt to make the economy the central issue in the presidential campaign, the Kerry campaign on Sunday released a "misery index" that purports to show that under Bush, the economic power of middle-class families has deteriorated at record levels.

The misery index is based on median family income, private-sector job growth, the rate of home ownership, the increase in the number of personal bankruptcies and the cost of college tuition, health care and gasoline cost.

Survey shows gas prices up 21/2 cents in two weeks

CAMARILLO, Calif. - Gas prices climbed another 21/2 cents in the past two weeks as high crude oil prices and tight capacity contributed to record prices at the pump, a national survey said Sunday.

The nationwide average in the past two weeks that ended Friday was $1.82 for all grades, said Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg survey, which regularly polls 8,000 stations across the United States.

Gasoline prices are up 31.5 cents per gallon nationwide since late December, Lundberg said.

"The prices keep breaking their own records every week," she said.

The national weighted average price of gasoline, including taxes, at self-serve pumps Friday was about $1.79 for regular, $1.89 for midgrade and $1.98 for premium.

Surrogate mother gets custody of triplets

ERIE, Pa. - A surrogate mother who gave birth to triplets last year and then refused to give them up, saying the biological father and his fiancee showed a lack of interest in the babies, has been awarded legal custody.

A judge said Danielle Bimber, 29, must work out visitation and other rights with the infants' biological father, who had also sought custody.

"It is the hope of this court that a custodial tug-of-war will not begin here," Erie County Judge Shad Connelly said in his April 2 ruling.

Connelly said Bimber should be considered the triplets' legal mother because she "carried them in her womb and then gave birth to them."

Civil War dead laid to rest more than century later

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - The remains of a group of Civil War soldiers have been interred with military ceremony, nearly 150 years after the battle that claimed their lives.

Drums beat and uniformed Civil War re-enactors fired muskets during Saturday's ceremonial burial at Springfield National Cemetery.

Archaeologists discovered the fragmented bones, believed to be from seven individuals, in the mid 1960s in a sinkhole at Wilson's Creek National Battlefield, said Jeff Patrick, librarian at the site.

The soldiers, whose names are unknown, died in the Battle of Wilson's Creek near Republic on Aug. 10, 1861.

[Last modified April 12, 2004, 01:05:27]

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