News In Brief

Gop leaders in the House were scrambling to shore up support for massive tax cuts. To quell dissent among moderate Republicans, the $864 billion proposal was scaled back to $792 billion by adjusting the way tax cuts would be phased in. Some GOP moderates said they would prefer to use the tax money to pay down the national debt. Some conservatives said they were unhappy that the measure wouldn't immediately eliminate the so-called marriage tax.

A hydrogen-leak scare halted the countdown for space-shuttle Columbia, delaying at least until tomorrow the debut of Eileen Collins as the first female shuttle commander. The countdown stopped with just seven seconds remaining to blast-off after sensors mistakenly reported a buildup of hydrogen gas in the engine compartment.

Carleton Fiorina was named CEO and president of Hewlett-Packard. That reportedly makes her the first woman to head one of the nation's 20 largest public companies and one of only three currently leading Fortune 500 firms. Most recently, Fiorina (r.) has been president of Lucent Technologies global service provider business. Her new appointment was hailed as a milestone for women in the highly competitive information-technology field.

In an about-face, the Bush campaign promised to release identities of a "Pioneers" group of 100 major fund-raisers who've vowed to generate $100,000 each by soliciting pledges from others. The concession, from GOP presidential front-runner George W. Bush, came after the latest in a series of complaints from public-interest groups about the Pioneers, who have helped him raise a record $37 million. Texans of Public Justice, a nonpartisan organization, said the clandestine group violated the spirit of campaign-finance laws.

The House voted overwhelmingly to withhold US aid to International Atomic Energy Agency programs helping Iran build nuclear power plants. The measure, passed 383 to 1, says funds can be released to the agency only if the US secretary of state certifies that Iran is not using the money to gain nuclear-weapons expertise or to accquire sensitive nuclear technology.

Households with Internet access watch considerably less TV than those not plugged in, a poll indicated. The Nielsen Media Research survey, conducted in January for America Online, found that weekdays from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on-line households watched 17 percent less TV than other households. The difference in viewing declined during evening hours.

Drugmaker Pfizer Inc. agreed to plead guilty to fixing prices of a food preservative and will pay a $20 million fine, the Justice Department said. In addition to a single count of fixing the price of sodium erythorbate, Pfizer will plead guilty in federal court in San Francisco to conspiring to sell the food-flavoring agent matrol only to certain customers in certain areas. Names of those with whom Pfizer conspired weren't disclosed because the investigation continues.

On the 30th anniversary of the first landing on the moon, three Apollo 11 astronauts were awarded prestigious Langley Gold Medals. Vice President Gore gave the medals to Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin, and Michael Collins at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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