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News In Brief

By Robert KilbornJudy Nichols, and Noel Paul / July 31, 2000



As delegates arrived in Philadelphia for today's start of the Republican National Convention, the platform committee completed a final draft of its positions. The platform was seen as having a softer tone to help appeal to swing voters, but hard-line conservatives retained planks against abortion, homosexuality, and sex education. It also supported the death penalty, tax cuts, a missile defense shield, and a "progressively limited role" for federal government in education - a carefully worded provision that aligns with George W. Bush's education agenda.

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Protests already were beginning on the fringes of the convention site. Police reported only a handful of arrests among more than 1,000 activists, who rallied Saturday around such diverse issues as abortion, animal rights, gun control, and universal healthcare. Authorities have vowed to avoid a repeat of the unrest that overshadowed the World Trade Organization talks in Seattle last year.

Vice President Al Gore plans to announce his choice for a running mate Aug. 8 in Tennessee, a week before the Democratic National Convention begins, aides said. They indicated he's working from a list of fewer than 10 candidates, and expects to narrow the field this week. Analysts said the timing is aimed at blunting any media attention Bush might gain from the Republican convention.

An 11th-hour reprieve meant that Napster's online song-sharing service was still in operation. Two appellate judges in California stayed a preliminary injunction by a district court, which would have effectively shut down the music company last Friday while a landmark court battle over Internet technology and copyright proceeds. The ruling means Napster can operate at least until the lawsuit goes to trial, for which no date has been set. The Recording Industry Association of American, the opposing party in the case, could appeal the stay.

An Army soldier accused of raping and killing an ethnic Albanian girl in Kosovo pleaded guilty to the charges. Staff. Sgt. Frank Ronghi, a weapons squad leader serving in a US peacekeeping force, was scheduled to be court-martialed this week in Germany. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole. The girl's death in January heightened tensions between ethnic Albanians and peacekeeping troops in Kosovo.

Officials reported mixed progress in battling numerous blazes across the West. Crews contained a 30,000-acre blaze that burned on the grounds of the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory; it was the third fire this year to threaten a nuclear facility, although preliminary reports indicated no major problems. Meanwhile, a fire in California's Sierra Nevada grew to 50,000 acres, with only 10 percent of it under control. In Colorado, the blaze at Mesa Verde National Park, which burned archaeological sites last week, was fully contained.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society