News In Brief

By , Judy Nichols, and Joshua S. Burek

US corporations and trade groups have been using an obscure tax loophole to keep political contributions secret, News-week magazine reported. By registering with the Internal Revenue Service under Section 527, the magazine said, more than two dozen political committees have been set up that need not report their activities to the public or to the Federal Election Commission. Newsweek said the Sierra Club stumbled on the scheme in 1996, and Republican operatives have furthered the idea this campaign season.

Disagreeing with the proposals George W. Bush made last week to develop a national missile defense and reduce the number of nuclear weapons, Defense Secretary William Cohen offered the presidential candidate access to the same Pentagon information that Vice President Al Gore is privy to. Cohen, a fellow Republican, said on a television news show Sunday that he thinks the Texas governor's plan would lead to dangerous new arms races. Gore, the presumptive Democratic nominee, voiced similar criticisms Saturday at the US Military Academy in West Point, N.Y. Cohen said he made his offer in an attempt to take politics out of the campaign debate over national security.

As part of his campaign platform, Gore proposed extending a ban on using genetic testing to deny jobs or promotions. Such tests are intended to indicate the likelihood for developing various diseases. Federal agencies currently are restricted in processing the results; Gore's plan would place bans on businesses and health plans. But most people already have such protections under federal and state laws, said a spokeswoman for the American Association of Health Plans, a Washington-based organization representing healthcare networks.

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Astronauts aboard the shuttle Atlantis ended 10 days of repair work on the International Space Station with a safe landing at Cape Canaveral, Fla. During the mission the seven-member crew replaced solar-charged batteries and communication equipment, added safety features, and boosted the station's orbit - all setting the stage for a Russian service-module mission in July.

The two men accused of killing five workers at a Wendy's restaurant in New York last week were arraigned on multiple counts of first- and second-degree murder, attempted robbery, and weapons possession. The prosecution - which says it has "overwhelming" evidence - has 120 days to decide whether to seek the death penalty or life in prison for Craig Godineaux and John Taylor.

A freight train loaded with hazardous chemicals partially derailed in Eunice, La., forcing the evacuation of at least 2,000 residents. Authorities said it could be several days before people would be allowed to return to their homes while technicians worked to prevent an acid-filled tank car from exploding. No injuries were reported.

Rising temperatures and weeks of drought sparked a number of blazes across Florida, prompting several hundred people to evacuate. In Osteen, in Volusia County, brush fires consumed at least six structures, while another serious fire burned near Bay Lake Estates in Osceola County. There were no reported injuries.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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