News In Brief

By , Judy Nichols and Stephanie Cook

Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain of Arizona were in a statistical tie in South Carolina, which holds its crucial Republican primary Feb. 19, polls by the Los Angeles Times and Newsweek showed. Bush had an advantage among self-declared Republicans, but the state has an open primary, meaning independents and Democrats - some of whom McCain has appealed to - also can vote. Meanwhile, Vice President Al Gore scheduled appearances aimed at shoring up the support of black voters in states with "Super Tuesday" primaries March 7. His Democratic rival, Bill Bradley, was to discuss environmental issues in San Francisco.

Ending months of speculation, tycoon Donald Trump announced he won't seek the presidential nomination of the Reform Party, which he said was "self-destructing." He also ruled out a candidacy with Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura's Independence Party, deciding there was too little time to mount a campaign. His move leaves ex-Republican Pat Buchanan as the front-runner for the nomination of the Reform Party, whose chairman was ousted and replaced Saturday.

Mission managers of space shuttle Endeavour were assessing a problem with a small thruster at the end of a 197-foot radar antenna being used to make a detailed map of Earth. Engineers suspected a nitrogen-gas leak. Because more fuel was being used than anticipated, the mapping, scheduled to continue through Sunday, might have to be halted as much as a day early, a NASA official said.

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Following a failed attempt last year, the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous craft was on target to be the first mission to orbit an asteroid. The journey to the 21-mile-long rock, Eros, was to coincide with Valentine's Day. If successful, the orbiter will start a year-long study of Eros.

An Episcopal Church commission was to release a report that declined to take a position on same-sex unions. If church leaders follow its recommendations, which are to be discussed at their national convention in July, an unofficial policy of letting individual dioceses decide whether to bless gay marriages would be left in place. Reform Judaism is to debate same-sex unions in March, the United Methodist Church in May, and the Presbyterian Church in June.

Several tornadoes cut through southwestern Georgia, killing at least 11 people and injuring more than 100 others. Gov. Roy Barnes (D) declared a state of emergency in four counties, where the twisters ripped through houses and mobile homes and knocked down power lines. Storms also swept through parts of Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas.

Part of the horizontal stabilizer on the Alaska Airlines plane that crashed last month was to be replaced more than two years ago, but the work was canceled after further tests, federal investigators revealed. The National Transportation Safety Board said it has not made a determination on whether that decision had any bearing on the accident.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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