News In Brief

The stage was set at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia for George W. Bush to deliver his most crucial speech to date. In accepting his party's nomination for president, the Texas governor was expected to focus on the twin cores of his campaign - compassionate conservatism and the notion that he is "a different kind of Republican." He likely also would outline what he sees as failures of the Clinton-Gore administration on such issues as improving schools, reforming Social Security, and overhauling taxes. Wednesday night, Bush's running mate, Dick Cheney, departed from the convention's generally moderate tone to throw barbs repeatedly at President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore.

Confounding expectations that the economy is slowing down, orders to US factories shot up by 5.5 percent in June, the biggest increase in nine years, the Commerce Department reported. It said the jump was propelled by a record 175.2 percent surge in orders for commercial aircraft and other aerospace equipment. Also, demand for transportation equipment rose an unprecedented 42.2 percent.

Clinton postponed the first federal execution in 37 years so the inmate can apply for clemency under newly created guidelines. The temporary reprieve for Juan Raul Garza, a convicted drug smuggler and murderer, moved his scheduled execution to Dec. 12. An attorney for Garza said the clemency request will focus on whether minorities and residents of a few states have been disproportionately sentenced to death under the federal system.

A proposed repeal of the death penalty in Oregon failed to attract enough petition signatures to qualify for a coming ballot, officials said. The Elections Division said about 81,000 valid signatures were turned in - some 7,500 short. They'll likely try again in 2002, a spokeswoman said.

A week after Ford Motor Co. said it would increase the fuel economy of its sports utility vehicles, General Motors made its own pledges. GM said it would offer pickups and buses that burn up to 50 percent less fuel than current models, although it declined to say how much mileage its truck fleet would gain. Ford has committed to improving its SUVs from an average of 18 miles per gallon to 23 in 2005. Environmentalists said the developments are a sign that automakers are heeding concerns about the impact of their vehicles.

A computer system that would store the "ballistic fingerprint" of every new handgun sold in Maryland moved a step closer to implementation with the approval of a contract with a local technology firm. The system, which is scheduled to go into effect Oct. 1, would make Maryland the first state in the nation to have such a database. Under the plan, new handguns shipped to Maryland must include the casing of a bullet test fired by the manufacturer. Gun dealers will have to provide the casing, along with the name of the gun purchaser, to state police when the weapon is sold.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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