News In Brief

A mediator assigned to sort out how much California power users may have been overcharged is favoring industry estimates rather than the state's. Curtis Wagner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will recommend a settlement next Monday, but he says he considers the industry's offer of $716 million in refunds about on target. He places $1 billion at the top of the range, much below the $8.9 billion state officials are seeking.

The same New York jury that handed down a guilty verdict May 29 in a plot to bomb US embassies in Africa sentenced convicted conspirator Khalfan Khamis Mohamed to life in prison. Mohamed had a direct role in a blast that killed 11 people in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in 1998.

Despite major strides made in cleaning up toxic waste sites, Superfund monies don't appear sufficient to complete the job, a report to Congress shows. Nearly 100 of 739 already-treated sites still need further work, according to Resources for the Future, a Washington think tank, and there are more than a thousand cleanup sites still on the Superfund's priority list. Special taxes on the oil and gas industries supply the special fund for government cleanup operations. These revenues will likely run out in 2002, yet cleanup costs aren't expected to decline for another eight years.

House Republicans and Democrats agreed to limit debate on campaign reform to just one day (Thursday), as legislators consider the most significant changes to campaign-finance law in 25 years. The focus of the truncated debate will be whether to eliminate the large donations to political parties known as soft money, or that used with few strings attached.

A Marine helicopter crashed during a night training exercise at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, killing three crew members and hospitalizing the pilot and copilot. The crash is under investigation. The CH-46 Sea Knight that went down is part of an aging helicopter fleet the Marines were going to replace until problems delayed introduction of VS-22 Ospreys, a hybrid aircraft. An Osprey squad commander was relieved of his duties for falsifying maintenance records in January and now has had his future placed in the hands of the Marines' Atlantic commander.

In efforts to clear the air in the case of missing Washington intern Chandra Levy, Rep. Gary Condit (D) of California has offered to let investigators search his apartment, review his phone record, and take a DNA sample, but he stopped short of agreeing to submit to a lie-detector test as requested by Ms. Levy's parents. Condit acknowledged to investigators last weekend that he had had an affair with Levy, missing since April 30.

Marine scientists, who were unable to sedate a troubled whale a month ago, have launched a second effort off the Massachusetts coast to remove a heavy fishing line from its jaw. The situation is considered life-threatening to the animal, one of only about 300 right whales.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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