News In Brief

Democrats officially opened their convention in Los Angeles to nominate Al Gore for president. (Stories, pages 1, 2, 3; opinion, page 13.) Among the developments:

*The latest polls showed Gore erasing rival George W. Bush's postconvention bounce, pulling within a few percentage points after trailing by as many as 17. But a USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll reported that 47 percent of likely voters said there's no chance they'd vote for Gore. Only 30 percent wouldn't vote for Bush.

*Vice presidential pick Joseph Lieberman played down his policy differences with Gore, but he reasserted his willingness to consider raising the retirement age for Social Security benefits, something Gore has denounced.

*Democrats were set to adopt a platform today that, like its Republican counterpart, aims to attract independent voters. It calls for greater school accountability over student performance, stricter border controls, expanded global trade, and a stronger military, The New York Times reported.

*On full alert, police contained some 4,000 noisy but peaceful marchers against the death penalty. The United Auto Workers, meanwhile, rallied to strengthen labor support for Gore in the fall.

Very few American voters would refuse to pick a vice president on account of gender, race, or denomination, but a significant number would object to an atheist, a new poll found. A Reuters/Zogby survey found close to 95 percent acceptance of black, Jewish, and female candidates. But 38 percent would rule out an atheist, and 23 percent wouldn't vote for a homosexual.

After battling through a raucous convention to secure the Reform Party presidential nomination from his wing of the divided group, Pat Buchanan was forced to defend his running mate after discovering she belonged to the ultraconservative John Birch Society. Buchanan said he had not known that Ezola Foster was president of a California chapter of the organization, which, in the 1950s, argued communists had infiltrated the highest levels of US government. This latest news, analysts said, further complicates Buchanan's candidacy, which is beset with low support and party infighting.

Ford Motor Co. released documents showing Bridgestone/ Firestone began receiving complaints in 1997 of injuries involving certain Firestone tires that the manufacturer did not recall until last week. Ford, whose Explorer sport utility vehicles are equipped with two-thirds of the recalled tires, claims the tire producer did not inform them of the mounting customer complaints. Bridgestone/Firestone maintains it acted quickly to identify any possible problem with its tires.

Puerto Rican protesters renewed their demonstrations against the US naval presence in Vieques Island. About 1,000 protesters joined hands outside the training ground fence, chanting slogans and singing protest songs. Frustration with military exercises there has grown after two stray bombs killed a civilian security guard. Puerto Ricans can vote to expel the Navy in a referendum next year.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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