News In Brief

By , Judy Nichols, Noel Paul, and Sara Steindorf

After days of discussions, the Bush and Gore campaigns agreed on the structure and format of three presidential debates next month. They also selected Jim Lehrer, the anchorman of PBS's "News Hour," as the moderator for all three. In the first debate, to be held Oct. 3 at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, the candidates will stand at podiums. But in an unprecedented move, Al Gore and George W. Bush will be seated at a table with Lehrer in talk-show style for the Oct. 11 session. The final debate, Oct. 17, will be a town-hall format, similar to those held in 1992 and 1996.

Two major polls, meanwhile, gave Gore the edge. In the latest Newsweek survey, he led Bush 50 percent to 38 percent. And a CNN-USA Today-Gallup survey gave Gore a 49-42 advantage. But Bush narrowly led in a Voter.com Battleground poll, 41 percent to 39 percent.

President Clinton, citing a government study that found more than half of US nursing homes don't have adequate staffing, proposed spending $1 billion to remedy the situation. The initiative, announced at a Washington nursing home during his weekly radio address, also would impose penalties on nursing facilities that place residents at risk. Moreover, nursing homes would be required publicly to post their number of personnel. Responding to the announcement, a congressional spokesman said lawmakers would "try to find fair middle ground" in the likely event they consider healthcare this fall.

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Hundreds of Palestinian supporters rallied outside the White House Saturday to draw attention to a key issue in Mideast peace negotiations: the future of millions of exiles who fled their homes when Israel was created in 1948. The demonstration was held on the 18th anniversary of the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians in Lebanon's Sabra and Shatila refugee camps by Christian militiamen.

Only a handful of buses were serving a 1,400-square-mile area of Los Angeles County after more than 4,000 drivers, clerks, and mechanics employed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority went on strike. No new contract negotiations were scheduled, meaning that 2,000 buses, as well as Metro Rail commuter lines, would in all likelihood be out of service for today's commute. The striking employees have disagreed with management over work rules and wage and benefit increases.

Cincinnati teachers approved a merit pay plan to make the city's public school district the first in the nation to replace a seniority system with one based on performance. The new plan will be phased in over a five-year period in the 47,000-student enrollment district, taking effect immediately.

Crews battled to contain Colorado's fifth major wildfire to break out this summer. The blaze, near Boulder, has scorched 600 acres and was about 10 percent contained by Saturday night. Some 250 houses are threatened, but none have been damaged in the conflagration - believed to be started Friday by an illegal campfire.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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