News In Brief

All 301 ports of entry to the US were placed on high alert by the Customs Service, following the arrest of an Algerian in Washington State who crossed the border from Canada in a rental car with more than 100 pounds of bombing-making supplies and a sophisticated detonating device. Ahmed Ressam, a resident of Montreal who had been denied refugee status in Canada because of alleged links to an Islamic terrorist group, was charged in Seattle with transporting explosives into the US, providing false identification, and lying to authorities.

After nine frustrating delays, the US space agency decided to make one last attempt this year to launch the shuttle Discovery on a mission to rescue the Hubble Space Telescope. Managers gave the go-ahead for fueling yesterday morning after being informed that good weather was expected for an evening liftoff. Discovery's seven astronauts are to replace all six gyroscopes on Hubble and to install a new computer, a data recorder, and other gear.

New guidelines to help public schools work with religious groups were issued by the White House, reflecting the latest Supreme Court rulings. It is the third set of such guidelines released since 1995 in an effort to quell divisive debate over religious expression in classrooms by clarifying what the Constitution allows religious groups to do - from tutoring and mentoring to offering nonreligious after-school programs.

A California woman who spent two years atop a giant redwood in a protest against logging returned to the ground after timber-company officials agreed to preserve the tree and a 200-foot buffer zone around it near the town of Stafford. In return, the accord requires Julia Hill and Sanctuary Forest, a land trust, to pay Pacific Lumber $50,000, which the firm will then donate to Humboldt State University for forestry-research programs. Hill began living in the tree Dec. 10, 1997.

Inmates who held a warden and six others hostage for almost a week surrendered in St. Martinville, La. An FBI official said the hostages appeared unharmed, but refused to confirm an agreement to send six inmates to Cuba. The FBI credited a chaplain and the mother of one hostage-taker with helping to resolve the six-day standoff. She said Cuba had agreed to accept the five Cubans and one Bahamian. The Cubans, who were subject to deportation, were being held indefinitely because the US and Cuba have no diplomatic relations.

Time magazine's person of the year is a man whose firm is losing millions of dollars. Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos is plowing money into the firm in an effort to build an online superstore. As a result, Amazon expects to lose at least $350 million this year, but eventually earn large profits. Time chooses a person of the year by deciding who has had the greatest impact, good or bad. In 1998, the joint winners were President Clinton and independent counsel Kenneth Starr.

A proposal to make the Great Sand Dunes National Monument in Colorado a national park was endorsed by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, who pledged up to $40 million to make it happen. He cited bipartisan and grassroots support for the plan.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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