News In Brief

The mayor of Vieques, Puerto Rico, prepared an eviction notice for the Navy and warned of massive disobedience after a nonbinding referendum calling for a halt in bombing exercises and immediate withdrawal from the island won 68 percent support from voters. A legally binding referendum Nov. 6 will let residents pick between a Navy withdrawal by 2003 or allowing it to stay indefinitely. The Navy, which has conducted the exercises for 60 years, said it won't leave for two years, despite residents' demands. President Bush said he supports that decision.

The Senate Judiciary Committee opened its confirmation hearing for Robert Mueller, Bush's nominee for FBI director. If confirmed, which analysts said appears likely, Mueller will succeed Louis Freeh, who announced his retirement earlier this year. The committee is expected to use Mueller's first appearance before Congress to ask for specific reforms within the FBI and to set benchmarks for the agency, which has been hit by a series of embarrassing high-profile mishaps. Mueller is a former federal prosecutor and Justice Department veteran.

In an unprecedented show of force against a powerful Internet attack, FBI and other government and corporate officials urged worldwide users of some Microsoft operating systems to guard against the "Code Red" worm that could cause widespread slowdowns and sporadic outages online. The worm defaces websites with the words "Hacked by Chinese" and affects only users of Microsoft Windows' NT and 2000 operating systems. For the first 20 days of each month, the worm spreads, then attacks the White House website. A software inoculation is available on Microsoft's site and others.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote today on whether to allow cloning of human beings as well as on a measure that, if passed, would limit the cloning of embryos for research purposes. The Judiciary Committee last week approved both restrictions. Bush backs the more comprehensive ban sponsored by Rep. David Weldon (R) of Florida. A second bill sponsored by Rep. James Greenwood (R) of Pennsylvania prohibits cloning to initiate a pregnancy, but specifically protects other "therapeutic cloning." Story, page 1.

An antique steam-powered tractor exploded at a fairground in Medina, Ohio, killing at least four people and injuring 50 others a day before one of the state's oldest and largest county fairs was to open. The blast at the 156th annual event hurled hot oil and shrapnel up to 100 yards away. The tractor was to be part of an exhibit on steam-powered engines. Authorities could not immediately identify what caused the explosion, but steam buildup is a possibility.

Hundreds of Virginians and West Virginians fled to higher ground as a torrential downpour triggered massive flooding and mudslides in the area for the third time in a month. Two people have been killed. West Virginia had deployed 1,400 National Guardsmen to help with flood relief, and Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore (R) declared a state of emergency for counties in the southwestern section of his state.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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