News In Brief

The White House was to announce an initiative against the sharp rise in preschoolers taking Ritalin, Prozac, and other psychiatric drugs to treat attention-deficit disorders. The campaign's initiatives include new drug labels and a national study of Ritalin use in young children, The New York Times reported. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is making children's issues a top theme in her bid for a US Senate seat, was to launch the effort.

The Supreme Court let stand an appeals court ruling that bars race as a factor when public-school students seek to transfer to another school, as long as past discrimination is not involved. The case centered on a Maryland district that had refused to let a white boy transfer to a mostly white magnet school from his minority-dominated neighborhood school. The justices also refused to free Ford Motor Co. from having to pay $13.8 million in punitive damages over an accident that severely injured two Indiana women. Ford had argued the award was based unfairly on the carmaker's economic wealth. Among other actions, the court agreed to clarify when courts can overrule arbitrators who require a company to keep an employee in a safety-sensitive job despite testing positive for illegal drug use.

The Environmental Protection Agency was to announce that it would seek to "significantly reduce or eliminate" use of MTBE as a gasoline additive, a government official said. MTBE reduces emissions of smog but has been linked to ground-water pollution in California. It currently is used in one-third of the gas sold in the US.

Boeing Co.'s engineers and technical workers approved a three-year contract by more than 70 percent, ending a disruptive 40-day strike and one of the largest white-collar walkouts in history. But both management and workers now face the challenge of catching up on production. The aerospace giant has conceded it delayed 15 of 42 deliveries of commercial jets slated for February.

In hopes of determining whether federal agents shot at Branch Davidians in the last moments of the 1993 Waco standoff, a elaborate field test was staged at Fort Hood, Texas. The demonstration, which focused on whether the FBI's infrared camera is capable of detecting gunfire and other circumstances, was ordered by the federal judge presiding over the Davidians' wrongful-death suit. US Attorney Mike Bradford, one of the government's lead lawyers in the litigation, claimed that initial analysis of the evidence helps to support the government's contention that FBI sharpshooters did not fire on sect members. The plaintiff's counsel also was to release findings. The judge said the court's infrared expert would release its own analysis within 30 days.

The 66th annual National Headliner Awards, which are sponsored by the Press Club of Atlantic City, N.J., bestowed honors on the Chicago Tribune for public service and ABC News for best documentary - and on the Monitor for best editorial cartoons. The full-color work of Clay Bennett, who joined the staff in 1997, also is syndicated through United Media.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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