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Legal dealings involving the recount of presidential ballots cast in Florida intensified further. A spokesman for Vice President Gore rejected a proposal by James Baker, who represents Republican rival George W. Bush, to drop a federal lawsuit seeking to block manual recounts of votes - if Gore would accept a 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline for completing the process. As the Monitor went to press, a Florida court was preparing to rule on whether the state could impose that deadline. Local officials in Palm Beach County, the focal point of the controversy, voted to suspend their manual recount.

The sailors on sentry duty aboard the USS Cole when it was bombed last month did not have ammunition in their guns and weren't authorized to shoot unless fired upon, The Washington Post reported, citing interviews with 20 crew members. Seventeen sailors died when a small boat detonated explosives near the Cole in a Yemeni port. The Post also said some crew members had been told by FBI investigators that Islamic militants may have boarded and surreptitiously surveyed the Cole as it passed through the Suez Canal a few days before the attack.

In a change of plan, Congress decided to take a break until Dec. 5 as it waits for the dust to settle in the presidential election. The lawmakers were to have held a rare lame-duck session this week to work on the remaining annual spending bills for fiscal 2001. Instead, congressional leaders and the White House hastily negotiated a temporary funding measure to keep government programs running until Dec. 5.

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President Clinton signed legislation Monday that renews key programs for senior citizens, among them Meals-on-Wheels service and pension counseling. The law authorizing the programs expired five years ago, but they continued to be funded through the federal budget. The measure also creates a family caregiver program, which authorizes up to $125 million for training and other services.

The annual meeting of US Catholic bishops was interrupted Monday by a series of gay-rights protests, The Washington Post reported. Soulforce Inc. and Dignity USA, two national organizations advocating rights for homosexuals, indicated they planned further protests during the four-day meeting in Washington to demand recognition for gay and lesbian Christians. The bishops, meanwhile, discussed possible resolutions that would call for abandoning capital punishment and reversing Supreme Court decisions on abortion.

Details were unveiled for a $343 million plan to return much of California's Yosemite Valley to a more natural state. At the heart of the plan is a shuttle-bus system for day visitors to the heavily used national park, reducing the flow of traffic by 60 percent. The plan reflects the controversial mission by federal land managers to protect wildlife and habitat, sometimes at the expense of visitor freedom or recreation.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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