News In Brief

A hearing in the case of Wen Ho Lee, the fired Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist, ended with the judge giving the government until noon tomorrow to complete its search of his home and finalize conditions for his release on $1 million bail. Although Lee is set to be freed from a Santa Fe, N.M., jail, an assistant US attorney said the government still was reserving the right to contest not only the terms of the release but also the release itself. In a separate ruling, US District Judge James Parker ordered the government to disclose documents that could help him determine whether Lee was a target of ethnic profiling. The defense alleges that Lee was singled out for accusations of mishandling nuclear secrets because he is ethnic Chinese.

A ban that partly stemmed from the Lee case, involving scientists from 25 "sensitive" countries such as China and Iran, may be repealed. Last November, Congress barred such researchers from having normal ties with US nuclear laboratories. But a provision in the law said the ban could be lifted after directors of the FBI and CIA determined that safeguards were in place to prevent the loss of nuclear secrets. FBI Director Louis Freeh and CIA chief George Tenet indicated Tuesday such was the case. The law stipulates the ties may be reinstated in 45 days.

The US Supreme Court barred distribution of marijuana to seriously ill Californians. Voting 7 to 1, with one abstention, the justices issued a stay of an order by a federal judge in San Francisco that would have allowed a California club to dispense the drug for medicinal purposes. A state initiative allows certain patients to grow and use marijuana without penalties, but federal law says the drug has no medical purposes and can't be administered safely under a physician's supervision.

A federal court in San Francisco allowed the first of many class-action lawsuits against Micro-soft Corp. to proceed, although no trial date was set. The suit alleges that the software giant used its dominant position to overcharge California consumers for a number of products, including Windows and Word programs. Most of the suits were filed after a federal judge ruled that Microsoft had violated antitrust laws and must be split in two. The company is appealing that decision.

Blacks remain the nation's largest minority, but new Census figures showed that two other groups are growing much faster. The Asian and Pacific Islander population grew 43 percent to 10.8 million between July 1990 and July 1999, and the Hispanic community grew 38.8 percent to 31.3 million. Georgia, Nevada, and North Carolina experienced the biggest increases, in percentage terms, among minorities.

Despite a recent government report on crime rates hitting at least a 27-year low, the number of police officers killed in the line of duty during the first half of this year rose 13 percent over the same period last year. Two national police groups reported that 76 officers died, the majority of them in shootings or automobile accidents.

After 22 homes collapsed in Philadelphia in the past week alone, housing authorities began an urgent round of aerial and door-to-door inspections. Philadelphia has an estimated 30,000 abandoned buildings - the result of a dramatic population loss - and officials were concerned that more than 10 percent of those properties are in danger of imminent collapse.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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