News In Brief

The House voted 352 to 75 to extend to 2006 a moratorium on taxing Internet access charges. The measure is aimed at encouraging the growth of e-commerce, but state and local officials have argued it deprives them of an important source of revenue. The bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate, and the Clinton administration said it would support only a two-year extension of the moratorium.

After a months-long tourism boycott of South Carolina organized by the NAACP, the state House passed, 62 to 48, a measure to remove the Confederate flag atop the capitol dome. A similar banner, however, would be placed at a monument honoring Confederate soldiers - a provision black legislators and the NAACP also have objected to. The bill was to go back to the Senate, which is expected to approve minor changes the House made. Gov. Jim Hodges (D) has indicated he would sign the legislation.

Three federal appeals judges questioned lawyers in the Elian Gonzalez case, focusing on whether the six-year-old boy is too young to apply for asylum and whether being from communist-ruled Cuba compromises his father's parental rights. So far, immigration officials and a federal judge in Miami have rejected the asylum application filed by Elian's great-uncle. The judges said they'd rule on the matter in several weeks.

At their policymaking meeting that convenes every four years, United Methodist Church leaders voted to reaffirm the church's stand against homosexuality. Almost 200 demonstrators against the policies were arrested Wednesday before the vote was taken. The United Methodist Church has 8.4 million members in the US, making it the nation's third-largest denomination.

Microsoft asked a federal judge to throw out the government's plan to split the company in two. In its counterproposal, the software giant suggested four-year restrictions along the lines of providing softwaremakers with equal access to Windows-related technology. In the event that Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson decides to consider fully the breakup proposal, Microsoft said it would need six months to mount its legal defense.

Investigators have substantiated a charge by the Army's highest-ranking woman that a another general made inappropriate sexual advances in 1996, reports said. Supporting accounts by Claudia Kennedy's friends and colleagues were found to be specific and persuasive, several newspapers reported, citing unnamed officials. If the findings are accepted by the Army's leadership, The Washington Post said, Gen. Larry Smith likely will be reprimanded and forced to retire.

A firestorm swept through the abandoned streets of Los Alamos, N.M., burning at least 100 homes while emergency crews ran short of water and were forced to retreat. At least 18,000 people were evacuated, and President Clinton declared New Mexico a major disaster area. At the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory, flames singed a research building, but explosives and radioactive material were protected in fireproof facilities, officials said.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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