News In Brief

The senate overwhelmingly confirmed the appointment of Richard Holbrooke as the next US ambassador to the UN. The approval of Holbrooke, the main architect of the 1995 peace accord that ended the war in Bosnia, was held up for 14 months by ethics questions that were eventually cleared up and also by some procedural squabbles that had nothing to do with Holbrooke.

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled a Boy Scouts of America ban on gay members illegal - the first such defeat for the group in a state's highest court. In a unanimous ruling, the New Jersey justices said the Boy Scouts, a private group, qualifies under the state's anti-discrimination law as a "public accommodation" and so can not keep out gays to enforce its own moral code. The Boy Scouts vowed to appeal to the US Supreme Court. Above, James Dale (l.) a former Matawan, N.J., assistant scoutmaster who was removed nine years ago when it was discovered he is gay, talks to reporters after the court's decision.

The Senate passed a $7.4 billion package to shield farmers from low prices. Democrats tried to provide more aid, but Republicans gave little ground, adding only $400 million for additional crop insurance next year to their original $7 billion plan. A final version must still be worked out with the House, so the various funding programs probably will not begin until fall.

The House defeated a bid to cut Legal Services Corp. funding by more than 50 percent. The attack came from GOP conservatives, who said the legal advocate for the poor pursues liberal causes and misrepresents its caseload. Voting 242 to 178, the House approved $250 million for the agency in fiscal 2000, which starts Oct. 1. That is a $50 million reduction from current funding, but far less than the $159-million cut sought by Republicans, which would have closed many agency offices.

An archive of music by Bach-family members has been found in Kiev by scholars from Harvard University and the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, a Harvard official announced. Dean Christoph Wolff said the archive of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach includes some 500 works, including numerous works by C.P.E. Bach that have never been published. In 1943, the collection was reportedly taken for safe keeping from Berlin to Silesia, where it fell into the hands of Soviet officials.

A plan to install solar panels at polluted factory sites to provide power to cities was unveiled by the Energy Department. The first such project will be on a 17-acre site in Chicago. The department has also contacted officials in Washington, Los Angeles, Stamford, Conn., and other cities in an effort to find additional sites.

British Airways began giving some passengers an "e-book" of up-to-the-minute news. The device, made by California-based Nuvomedia, resembles a PalmPilot, but is slightly larger at 6 inches by 7 inches, for easy reading. The news - from such sources as the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Bloomberg, and Reuters - is loaded just prior to a plane's departure. The trial is limited to Chicago, but the device could show up soon at the 22 other US airports used by the carrier, if found to be popular.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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