News In Brief

Top US officials pledged that the Navy, Coast Guard, and National Transportation Safety Board would determine why a US submarine hit and sank a Japanese fishing trawler near Hawaii. The incident happened Friday, while the USS Greeneville was practicing an emergency surfacing procedure. President Bush and other officials sent condolences and regret to Japanese counterparts, and the submarine's captain, Cmdr. Scott Waddle, was reassigned pending the results of the probe.

Bush, meanwhile, was to devote this week to the US military. Saturday, he promised it a $1.4 billion pay raise, and a White House aide said he was proposing $1 billion in extra incentives to retain highly skilled personnel. Bush also was to visit three military installations in the US.

A pair of landmark studies that offer the first in-depth look at the human genetic code are to be formally presented today. Researchers were expected to report that the so-called human genome comprises about one-half to one-third the number of expected genes - some 30,000, just twice the number in a fruit fly. Only a few small differences, furthermore, set one person apart from another. The scientists also were to bolster a recent finding that men's bodies, with the Y chromosome, create genetic mutations at about twice the rate of women's. That suggests males provide more force for evolutionary change but also may cause more glitches.

Genetic testing already under way resulted Friday in the first federal lawsuit of its kind. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a petition in Sioux City, Iowa, against Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, over testing for employees who filed claims for certain work-related hand injuries. The EEOC argues that basing employment decisions on the genetic tests, such as those used by the railroad, violates the Americans With Disabilities Act. A spokesman for Burlington Northern told The Washington Post the company is considering stopping the tests for 60 days "to evaluate the situation."

The crews of the shuttle Atlantis and international space station Alpha entered the Destiny laboratory for the first time after it was attached to its new orbiting home. The installment took place Saturday in a delicate 7-1/2 hour spacewalk that went mostly according to plan except for an ammonia leak. The crews were to spend most of the day in Destiny finishing the setting up of computers and other systems.

A federal court's ruling late last week should keep three of California's biggest power suppliers shipping electricity until at least Feb. 16, when the next hearing on the matter is scheduled. Citing the "imminent threat of blackouts," Judge Frank Damrell ruled in Sacramento that AES Pacific, Dynergy Power, and Reliant Energy must sell to the state's Independent System Operator, which regulates 75 percent of the power grid. Meanwhile, the Bush administration said it was assessing a request from Gov. Gray Davis (D) for a temporary waiver on air-quality standards for electricity generators.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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