News In Brief

Sen. John McCain of Arizona, boosted by a surprisingly solid victory in New Hampshire's presidential primary, and his rival, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, headed to South Carolina, which stages the next big Republican showdown of the campaign Feb. 19. Meanwhile, Vice President Al Gore, who beat Democrat Bill Bradley by a narrower margin, returned to Washington in case he was needed to break a tie vote on an abortion-related amendment in the Senate. Bradley, Gore, and McCain each had plans to campaign soon in California, which holds one of the most crucial primaries March 7.

The Senate debated legislation that would overhaul bankruptcy laws, focusing on a provision that would require bankrupt people who were found to have violated laws protecting abortion clinics to pay their penalties. Also at issue was an amendment that would prohibit gunmakers and dealers from erasing debts in bankruptcy that was caused by successful lawsuits against them.

Ignoring a veto threat and criticism from China, the House voted 341 to 70 to bolster military ties with Taiwan. But the measure did not appear to have as much support in the Senate. The legislation would lift a prohibition on direct cooperation between the two armed forces and require annual Pentagon reports on Taiwan's security. The vote comes as the Clinton administration tries to build support for China, which considers Taiwan a renegade province, gaining admission to the World Trade Organization.

Defense Secretary William Cohen approved revised training programs for field commanders in the armed forces on how to probe antigay threats. The new guidelines, which instruct commanders to investigate the source of the threats, aim to protect troops who come forward with complaints from being investigated themselves. The revised approach comes after criticism that the Clinton administration's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on homosexuals in the military is not working. The Pentagon, however, announced that the number of discharges for being gay fell by 111 to 1,034 in the last fiscal year - the first yearly decrease since the "don't ask, don't tell" policy went into effect in 1993.

A widening scandal over payoffs and campaign cash crept closer to Gov. George Ryan of Illinois as his former top investigator was served a federal indictment. Dean Bauer, who was inspector general under Ryan when the latter was secretary of state, was charged with lying to the FBI and blocking investigations into the selling of truckers' licenses. Prosecutors say the practice raised more than $170,000 that went to Ryan's gubernatorial campaign. Ryan has not been charged with wrongdoing.

The Conference Board's index of leading economic indicators increased to a record 108.7 in December from 108.3 the month before. The business-funded research group, based in New York, projected a likely continuation of economic expansion this year. In another report, the Commerce Department said sales of new homes rose 4.5 percent in December to a seasonally adjusted rate of 900,000. For all of 1999, new-home sales rose 2 percent to a record 904,000.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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