News In Brief

By , Judy Nichols, and Noel Paul

After three weeks of flagging poll numbers and verbal gaffes, George W. Bush hoped to reignite his campaign and slow rival Al Gore's surge by releasing a "Blueprint for the Middle Class." The 15-page summary of the Republican presidential candidate's positions highlights issues important to middle-income voters. Bush was planning a nine-state tour this week in which he'll focus each day on legislation for a different stage of life, from birth to retirement.

US intelligence agencies have obtained CD-ROM copies of a 1,000-page manual used by alleged Saudi terrorism-financier Osama bin Laden to train recruits in Afghanistan, USA Today reported. Bin Laden is accused by the US of masterminding attacks on its embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. The manual, which was turned over by Jordanian intelligence officials, contains information on how to fire weapons, carry out assassinations, and assemble bombs, the paper said, citing unnamed US officials. Although the CIA and FBI declined comment, other intelligence officials said they hoped the information could be used to help slow or disrupt terrorist operations.

A laptop containing information that might be valuable to foreign governments apparently was stolen from a hotel conference room during a national technology conference in Irvine, Calif. The computer belongs to the founder and chairman of Qualcomm Inc, a telecommunications company that holds hundreds of patents. A spokeswoman for Irwin Jacobs said the laptop was password-protected, but it probably could be overridden easily.

Recommended: NSA surveillance 101: What US intelligence agencies are doing, what they know

The federal government is investigating whether a form of biotech corn that hasn't been approved for human consumption was used in taco shells sold in grocery stores under the Taco Bell name, officials said. The issue was raised after testing by an Iowa company found evidence of the corn, called StarLink, in the product. The testing apparently has yet to be confirmed independently. Officials of the Food and Drug Administration said it would be "unlawful" for StarLink to be in human food, The Washington Post reported. There are concerns that the corn, which is approved only as animal feed, could trigger allergies.

Online retailers, many of whom were overwhelmed with business last Christmas season, are likely to be handling even greater volume this year, a new report projected. Researcher Jupiter Communications, based in New York, said online holiday sales in November and December will grow 33 percent from 1999 to $11.6 billion.

Flooding, downed trees, and roof damage appeared to be about all that was left of tropical storm Gordon, which hit Florida's Gulf Coast Sunday. No injuries or deaths were reported. The storm, downgraded to a tropical depression, was causing heavy rains farther up the East Coast.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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