News In Brief

By , Judy Nichols, and Joshua S. Burek

New York Republican Congressman Rick Lazio formally declared his Senate candidacy following New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's exit from the race. Lazio, who quickly picked up endorsements from the mayor and Gov. George Pataki (R), is expected to be nominated by the state Republican Party May 30. Analysts said Giuliani's absence is a boost to Clinton, who enjoys significant name-recognition and fund-raising advantages over Lazio. Giuliani, who cited health reasons for his departure, said he intends to remain mayor for the remainder of his term.

The US trade deficit with China surged during the first three months of 2000, running 22.8 percent higher than it had a year ago. The Commerce Department reported new import and export records overall, along with a highest-ever $30.2 billion trade deficit. The statistics were released just days before a scheduled House vote on China trade legislation. President Clinton, meanwhile, canceled a nationally televised speech about trade with China because of fears that it might derail efforts to win support from congressional Democrats.

A computer virus dubbed "NewLove" was largely contained by US companies whose defenses were strengthened after the recent ILOVEYOU outbreak. Experts said the new virus was programmed with more destructive capabilities than its predecessor, but its spread was checked by increased awareness.

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The FBI mismanaged its investigation of a US physicist accused of nuclear espionage, a Justice Department report has charged. The internal review criticizes the FBI for moving too slowly and prematurely focusing on Wen Ho Lee as the prime suspect. Lee, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of making illegal copies of nuclear secrets, is set to stand trial in November. Meanwhile, a separate Senate investigation blamed miscommunication between government agencies for an overly lenient plea bargain for another nuclear scientist who, according to the Department of Energy, "directly enhanced" China's weapons program.

The National Rifle Association vowed a tough fight to defeat Al Gore, saying gun rights would be imperiled under his administration. At a rally in North Carolina, NRA President Charlton Heston announced he is seeking an unprecedented third term for the explicit purpose of "ensuring Al Gore's defeat in November." Faced with increasing public awareness and activism on gun issues, the NRA has pledged to spend $10 million to $15 million during the current election cycle.

Erosion and nutrient depletion have degraded almost 40 percent of the world's agricultural land, the International Food Policy Research Institute reported in a new study. A senior researcher said the degradation is "not necessarily irreversible."

Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush has raised a record $84 million in campaign funds, the Federal Election Commission reported. But heavy spending on ads during his primary battle with Arizona Sen. John McCain has equalized his cash reserves with Democratic opponent Al Gore, who has raised $74 million. Both men are to receive $67.6 million in federal matching funds for the general election campaign this summer.

More than 90 people were injured when a pedestrian bridge at a race track collapsed onto a four-lane highway. The span snapped in half as crowds at Lowe's Motor Speedway in North Carolina left a NASCAR event. No fatalities were reported.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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