News In Brief

Network TV surveys after the first presidential debate showed Al Gore with an edge, but many analysts said neither his nor George W. Bush's performance broke open the closest US race for the top office in 40 years. Tuesday night's matchup zeroed in on candidate stands on such issues as Medicare, prescription drug benefits for senior citizens, Social Security, taxes, and abortion. Some experts argued that Bush gained status by not flinching against a more seasoned debater, while others thought Gore scored better for offering more detailed answers.

An estimated 9,000 to 12,000 protesters converged outside the debate site to promote a variety of causes. Hundreds of demonstrators, saying they were angry over the sponsors' refusal to admit Green Party candidate Ralph Nader to the official proceedings, sat down in a road near the debate hall. Conflicting reports said there were 16 to 30 arrests, some for blocking traffic. Five people were treated for minor injuries, and two were taken to hospitals, a police official said.

President Clinton said he will sign the H-1B visa bill that sped through Congress, increasing significantly the number of visas for educated foreigners who temporarily fill specialized American jobs, largely in high-tech industries. Almost 600.000 six-year H-1B visas will be issued over the next three years.

Congressional negotiators agreed to impose a stricter national standard for drunken driving. Under the plan, which still had to be voted on by the full House and Senate, states would be required to adopt a blood/alcohol level of 0.08 percent as legally defining drunken driving by 2007 at the latest. States that do not would begin losing millions of dollars a year in federal highway funds. Expressing support for the measure, Clinton said an estimated 500 deaths would be prevented a year.

After a summer of brownouts, the administration proposed efficiency standards that would require new home central air conditioners and heat pumps to use 20 to 30 percent less electricity. The increased cost of the improvements - $274 more for the air units and $486 for a typical heat pump - would be more than offset by consumers' electricity savings over time, Energy Department officials said. But manufacturers argued the initial price would be too expensive for some homeowners.

A Florida appellate court ruled in favor of the nation’s first statewide school voucher system, overturning a March decision by a lower court that said the law violated the state Constitution. The 1999 legislation, which allows taxpayer money to be spent on private education, was championed by Gov. Jeb Bush (R) and served as a model for a national program proposed by his brother, presidential candidate George W. Bush. Another appeal is expected.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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