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Former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander has decided to withdraw from the race for the Republican nomination in next year's presidential election, a campaign official said. Alexander, who finished a disappointing sixth place in the Iowa straw poll Saturday, was to announce his decision to drop out of the race at a press conference in Nashville, the official said. Aides to Alexander had said earlier that "some degree of shutting down" was virtually certain. Above, Alexander waved to the crowd in Ames prior to addressing those who participated in the straw poll.

Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona, who did not participate in the nonbinding Iowa poll, said he's also inclined to skip the state's caucuses in early 2000. Unlike his rivals in a crowded field, McCain has avoided Iowa, focusing his efforts on next year's New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries.

The first trial the judicial system has broadcast on the Internet was to begin in Florida's Orange County Courthouse. Media groups have previously aired trials over the Web, but industry sources said the murder trial of Shirley Egan marks the first time a court has aired its own proceedings in this way. The courtroom is reportedly fully wired for audio and video, with fiber-optics and an Internet server that allows Web broadcasts.

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The nation's prisons and jails held a record 1.82 million inmates last year, meaning one out of every 149 US residents was behind bars, the Justice Department reported. The Bureau of Justice Statistics report said state prisons were operating at between 13 and 22 percent over their designed capacity, while federal prisons were filled to about 27 percent of their capacity.

China has granted permission for a US Navy vessel to visit Hong Kong for the first time since the NATO bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia, the US consulate in Hong Kong reported. The approval was interpreted as a warming in Sino-US relations, which were strained after the bombing in May. Also, an Italian warship docked in Hong Kong, in what was apparently the first port call there by a naval vessel from a NATO member since the bombing.

President Clinton was to call for full funding of his foreign affairs budget, White House officials said. In a speech to a Veterans of Foreign Wars conven- tion in Kansas City, Mo., Clinton was expected to say the money is needed to reduce weapons proliferation and promote peace in the Middle East and Africa. The Republican-held House has cut the annual foreign-operations bill that provides funds for some economic and military aid, the Peace Corps, and export credits to $12.62 billion from the president's $14.57 billion request.

Thousands of film-industry workers rallied in Hollywood to support measures aimed at preventing the flight of film productions to other countries. In the California Assembly, two bills have been passed that would provide tax credits for certain productions using California laborers. According to a recent study commissioned by the Screen Actors Guild and the Directors Guild of America, 285 of 1,075 US-developed film and TV productions were filmed outside the country last year for economic reasons.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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