News In Brief

Another brand of Firestone tires came under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The agency has received more than 160 complaints about the Steeltex R4S and A/T light-truck tires, which have been blamed for two deaths and a dozen injuries. The brand is original equipment on Ford F250 and F350 pickups, the Ford Excursion, General Motors' Suburban and G Van, the latter a commercial vehicle. Following a similar course of events, Bridgestone/Firestone issued a recall of 6.5 million ATX, ATX II, and Wilderness AT tires in August.

After tests showed some store-bought taco shells contained a form of biotech corn banned for human consumption, the government announced plans to purchase this year's entire crop. Paris-based Aventis, which produces the corn seed, agreed Friday to cover the cost, estimated at $68 million for 45 million bushels. Under the arrangement, the Agriculture Department will try to ensure the crop is used only for animal feed or industrial use. In wake of the tests, Kraft Foods has recalled millions of packages of taco shells sold in stores under the Taco Bell name.

In a lawsuit that could become a national test case, a federal court in Alexandria, Va., ruled that inmates who claim they were wrongfully convicted have a constitutional right to request DNA testing. Judge Albert Bryan did not order testing for James Harvey, who was convicted of rape in 1990, but he maintained that the 14th Amendment allows state prisoners to file federal civil rights lawsuits seeking the procedure. The decision is not binding on other courts.

Two hidden faults capable of unleashing a magnitude-7.6 earthquake lie off the coast of California's Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego Counties, researchers reported in this month's issue of the journal Geology. But they estimated that the biggest temblors would occur only once every 2,100 years on one of the faults and every 8,800 years on the other. It's possible, however, that energy could be released in smaller but more frequent spurts, they said.

Two more strikes loomed in Los Angeles, where transit workers and actors are already on the picket lines. The union representing 47,000 county employees announced plans to walk out after negotiations for a new contract broke down. Workers vowed to shut down government offices one by one beginning today. If negotiations are still unresolved by Oct. 11, a countywide strike would be called. Some 43,000 teachers and other employees at the Los Angeles Unified School District, meanwhile, voted to authorize a walkout if talks fail with the Board of Education. No date has been set for a strike.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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