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News In Brief

By CompiledRobert Kilborn and Judy Nichols / December 15, 2000



Both Al Gore, in his concession speech, and George W. Bush, in his first address to the nation as president-elect, emphasized the need to leave the rancorous election contest behind and reach across partisan lines. As a step in that direction, they planned to meet in Washington Tuesday. Much work remained before Bush's inauguration Jan. 20, but the process likely was eased when the General Services Administration, which earlier had withheld cooperation, said it was authorizing Bush's transition team to use a $5.3 million federal fund and the government's transition office in Washington.

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The Federal Trade Commission cleared the merger of America Online and Time Warner, after the companies pledged to give Internet rivals greater access to their cable lines and content. The commissioners voted 5 to 0 to clear the $109 billion deal, the biggest in US history. But it still needs an OK from the Federal Communications Commission.

The producer price index, which measures inflation pressures before goods reach store shelves, inched up 0.1 percent last month - the best performance in three months, the Labor Department reported. For the year, wholesale prices have been rising at an annual rate of 3.9 percent, compared with a 2.9 percent gain for all of 1999. The uptick largely reflects surging energy costs.

With California still gripped by an energy crunch, the Clinton administration invoked emergency powers to stave off blackouts. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said power generators and marketers in the Pacific Northwest would be required to ship electricity to California's financially strapped utilities at a price he deemed fair. He also asked two government-owned power associations in nearby states to send more power. Other measures may be taken today, when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission meets to discuss the situation.

In a ruling analysts said was a win for affirmative action, a federal court in Detroit upheld the University of Michigan's undergraduate admissions policy. The system grades applicants on a 150-point scale, with minorities awarded an automatic 20 points based on race. But the court struck down a previous policy that sorted applicants by grades, test scores, and race. The case, which is a switch from other recent ones that have ruled against affirmative action, has been closely watched as a candidate for possible appeal to the Supreme Court.

The FBI was searching for a hacker who put about 25,000 stolen credit-card numbers on the Internet. In all, more than 55,000 records were taken from creditcards.com, which processes transactions for online companies. The account numbers were posted after the company refused a $100,000 extortion demand.

A benchmark report on teen experimentation with drugs, alcohol, and tobacco found usage levels to be about the same as in the past three years. But the federal Monitoring the Future survey reported such notable shifts as the finding that the number of high-school seniors using heroin hit its highest point since the study began in 1975.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society