News In Brief

As the presidential campaign headed into the decisive post-Labor Day phase, George W. Bush and Al Gore haggled over a schedule for debates. The vice president, who has signed on to a plan drawn up by a bipartisan presidential commission, rejected Bush's proposal, which calls for the first debate to be a week from today during a special prime-time edition of NBC's "Meet the Press." That would be followed by one Oct. 3 in Los Angeles on CNN's "Larry King Live," and a third Oct. 17 at Washington University in St. Louis, sponsored by the commission. The Texas governor's plan rejects two other debates proposed by the commission, in Boston and North Carolina. Gore accused his Republican rival of trying to duck the high-profile, highly structured meetings.

Gore has built a slight lead over Bush in the race for electoral votes, but not enough to win the presidency, an analysis by the Associated Press found. It concluded that 14 states plus the District of Columbia are likely to go Gore's way, while 22 states are on Bush's side. That leaves 14 states in play, mostly in the Midwest. Analysts said the contest may be one of the closest in more than 30 years and could tilt either way. In the majority of previous elections, the candidate leading on Labor Day has prevailed.

After reports surfaced that at least 6,000 school buses nationwide could have defective antilock brake systems, their manufacturer said as many as 300,000 other commercial vehicles could be affected. The problem appears to occur when the vehicles are moving less than 20 m.p.h., and braking ability can be lost for as many as three seconds, a spokeswoman for the parent company of a school-bus manufacturer said. She said the company could inspect its vehicles around the clock, and that repair kits would be shipped by November.

Rain, and even snow, boosted hopes of bringing wildfires across the Northwest under control. Weather forecasters expected wet conditions to continue through at least midweek, which ironically could make the terrain more slippery and hazardous for firefighters. Although major progress already was reported in some areas, a new problem blaze, sparked by lightning, forced the evacuation of Devils Tower National Monument in northeastern Wyoming. The fire was about 80 percent contained by Sunday evening, a local official said.

Hollywood fell well short this summer of the record $3 billion that movies raked in during the same period last year. But the estimated $2.75 billion gross is still the second-best to date, box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations Inc. indicated. Filmgoing attendance, however, could be down 10 to 15 percent, it said. The industry traditionally takes in about 40 percent of its annual revenue between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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