News In Brief

As the apparent deadline loomed for finalizing Florida's delegates to the Electoral College, the US Supreme Court was pondering its ruling in the Bush-Gore case, while the state's Legislature continued to prepare its own slate of electors. The high court's landmark hearing Monday, on whether hand counts of certain presidential ballots cast in Florida should proceed, was filled with sharply worded questions for the legal teams. Much of the querying was done by Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy - considered the two main swing votes.

The Florida Supreme Court, meanwhile, issued a clarification of its controversial Nov. 21 ruling that extended the time available for counties to report election results. The clarification was requested by the US Supreme Court last week. The Florida justices, in a 6-to-1 opinion, said they ruled after reviewing state law and the apparent conflicts it contains.

Cleveland's school-voucher program, which provides low-income families with $2,500 to help pay tuition for schools outside the district, was struck down by the US Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. But supporters of the program hoped the case will provide a vehicle for the US Supreme Court to examine direct government support for religious schools. Courts across the country have been divided over whether spending tax money on such education violates the separation between church and state.

All MV-22 Osprey aircraft were grounded by the commandant of the Marine Corps after a crash in Jacksonville, N.C., killed all four people aboard. Gen. James Jones also asked Defense Secretary Cohen to convene a panel of experts to review the $40 billion program, a Marine spokesman said. Monday's crash followed a fatal Osprey accident in April that was blamed on human error. A Pentagon decision had been due this month on whether to begin full production of the Osprey, which takes off and lands like a helicopter but flies like a fixed-wing plane.

The shuttle Endeavour landed Monday at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, ending an 11-day mission that was characterized as one of NASA's most complicated yet. The crew took three spacewalks to attach two giant solar panels to the International Space Station, in which they also spent a day transferring cargo and helping out with computer problems.

The Midwest's first major storm of the season brought at least a foot of snow, bitter temperatures, and high winds. Schools in more than 10 states were closed Monday, more than 300,000 customers in Ohio lost power, and transportation across the region was tough going. At Chicago O'Hare International Airport, scores of flight cancellations backed up air traffic nationwide. Three weather-related deaths were reported.

Free agent shortstop Alex Rodriguez, considered among the best players in pro baseball, reached agreement with the Texas Rangers on a $252 million, 10-year contract - the richest in sports history. The deal is exactly twice the size of the previous record, reached in 1997 between Kevin Garnett and the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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