News In Brief

By , Judy Nichols, and Stephanie Cook

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up more than 300 points as the Monitor went to press, extending Wednesday's 320-point surge that was the strongest rise in 17 months. Analysts attributed the gains to traders snapping up shares of "old-line" companies whose prices have been beaten down in the flow of cash to technology stocks. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite Index was down almost 120 points at press time, bringing its losses to 11.6 percent so far this week. A drop of more than 10 percent is considered a signal of a "correction."

A bipartisan study found no evidence that conservative groups were audited by the Internal Revenue Service for anti-Clinton views, but it did determine that the administration tried twice to obtain confidential taxpayer data. Vice President Al Gore's office acknowledged making one of the attempts, but aides said the inquiry was just a status check "handled appropriately." The other attempt came from the Treasury Department. The three-year study began after several nonprofit conservative groups complained they were politically targeted for audits.

As Republicans pushed their $1.82 trillion budget plan through the House Budget Committee, they sidestepped a challenge from Democrats to base their proposal on presidential candidate George W. Bush's. The GOP legislators, arguing they're constrained by a Democratic administration, planned for up to $200 billion in tax cuts over five years, while Bush has called for a $483 billion cut over the same period.

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The House passed a $40 billion aviation bill by 319 to 101, sending it on to Clinton's desk. The legislation promises more money for airport construction, higher local airport passenger taxes, and more flights out of major airports in an effort to increase service to smaller markets. Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater said the president would sign the bill.

Truckers seeking relief from surging fuel prices converged on Washington's National Mall for the second time in a month. The group brought hundreds of tractor cabs from routes through Maryland and Virginia. Truckers contend that diesel prices above $2 a gallon threaten their livelihood and soon will force price increases on food and other merchandise as well.

Some ancestors of monkeys, apes, and humans were so tiny they could fit on a thumb, a report in the Journal of Human Evolution said. Fossilized foot bones from two species smaller than any other known primate were found at a limestone mine in eastern China, researchers said. They lived in a rain forest about 45 million years ago.

The number of colleges offering online degrees doubled from 15 percent in 1998-99 to 34 percent last year, the educational research firm Market Data Retrieval reported in a survey of 4,000 institutions. Its study also showed more than one-third of colleges provide computers in dormitories, up from just 25 percent last year. Another finding: Colleges spent $2.7 billion on software and hardware for the 1999-2000 school year, a 9 percent jump from last year.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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