News In Brief

Astronauts Jim Voss and Susan Helms completed the longest spacewalk in shuttle program history as they installed new hardware and relocated equipment on the International Space Station Alpha. The process took 8 hours and 56 minutes, almost 30 minutes longer than the previous longest spacewalk, in 1992. Voss and Helms were delivered by the shuttle Discovery as part of Alpha's first replacement crew. The mission's second spacewalk is set to start today.

Al Gore would have gained 784 votes in Florida's Palm Beach County if officials had counted every ballot that had a hanging chad, pinhole, or dimple, The Palm Beach Post reported. And had the newspaper's standard applied in the state's 66 other counties, it would have been enough to erase George Bush's 537-vote victory, the Post said. In the official recount, Gore picked up an additional174 votes in Palm Beach County, but those were not allowed by the secretary of state's office because of a missed deadline. The Post also said 5,330 ballots were thrown out because voters punched chads for both Gore and Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan, whose name appeared just above Gore's on the so-called "butterfly ballot."

President Bush blocked a strike by mechanics against Northwest Airlines for at least 60 days, appointing an emergency board to make recommendations. Bush acted after federal mediators concluded that talks between union members and the airline were at an impasse, his press secretary said. The emergency board has 30 days to propose a nonbinding settlement, and the parties get an additional 30 days to resolve the dispute. Other carriers were advised Bush would take similar action if their labor disputes aren't resolved.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys planned to appeal to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) for clemency after a 14-year-old boy was sentenced to life in prison for killing a 6-year-old girl. Lionel Tate was tried as an adult for the crime. He'd be one of the youngest Americans ever to receive such a sentence, unless it's overturned. Tate reportedly was imitating a professional wrestling move when the death occurred.

More than 700 people attended the funeral of Randy Gordon, one of the two students killed in last week's shooting incident at Santana High School, near San Diego. As the Monitor went to press, services also were to be held for Bryan Zuckor, the other victim. Freshman Charles Williams has been charged with the crimes.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission told 13 suppliers of electricity to California they must either pay $69 million in refunds to the state's utilities for certain power sales or justify their high prices. The commission said the refund order was intended to ensure "reasonable prices" for wholesale power in the California market. Under California law, the almost-bankrupt utilities have been unable to pass high power costs through to customers.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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