News In Brief

George W. Bush emerged victorious in an Iowa straw poll, the first test of Republican candidates in a crowded field. Bush received 7,418 votes, about one-third of the unofficial total. The second-place finish of millionaire publisher Steve Forbes (4,921 votes) was considered solid, even though he spent the most money. Elizabeth Dole finished third with 3,410 votes.

El Cenizo, Texas, has adopted Spanish as its official language, Mayor Rafael Rodriguez said. Business is to be translated into English for documents required by law. The City Council's intent is not to usurp English, but to make government more accessible for some 7,800 residents, most of them unskilled in English, the mayor said. A new ordinance also prevents city staff from helping the Border Patrol find illegal immigrants. The director of English First, an English-advocacy group based in Springfield, Va., said El Cenizo may be the first US town to choose Spanish as its official language.

Several staff members at the US embassy in Colombia are under investigation for possible use of the diplomatic postal system to smuggle illegal drugs into the US, The Washington Post reported. It said dependents of staff members are also allegedly involved. Laurie Anne Hiett - wife of Army Col. James Hiett, the US Army officer commanding antidrug-smuggling efforts in Colombia - surrendered to officials in New York last week on drug-related conspiracy charges. Only Mrs. Hiett has been charged so far. If convicted, she faces up to 12 years in prison.

The Pentagon took new steps to prevent harassment of gays in the military. The changes restrict investigations of troops suspected of being gay and require antiharassment training for all personnel throughout their careers. The move was in part a response to charges that a "don't ask, don't tell" policy has increased harassment and prompted "witch hunts" for suspected gays - probes based only on rumor or suspicion.

Chicago could become the third big city in two months to demand reparations from its electrical utility for damages caused by a blackout. A failure of equipment - not the weather - was blamed for Thursday's outage in downtown Chicago. Consumers had less than a hour's notice of the outage. In July, New York City and San Francisco filed lawsuits seeking penalties of at least $3 million and $1.75 million, respectively, against utilities for earlier blackouts that left hundreds of thousands of people without power.

The Clintons searched for a new home in Westchester County, north of New York City. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is considering a run for one of New York's seats in the US Senate, must move to the state by Election Day in November 2000 to be eligible.

Lane Kirkland, who died at home in Washington Saturday, reunited major US unions during his presidency of the AFL-CIO from 1979 to 1995. He is also credited with reaching out to workers in other nations where the trade-union movement was suppressed. In 1994, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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