News In Brief

Attorney General Janet Reno was said to be searching for a qualified outside investigator to probe why it took the FBI six years to acknowledge using incendiary tear-gas canisters in the waning hours of the siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. FBI Director Louis Freeh had recommended such an outside probe, an agency spokesman said. Meanwhile, the Justice Department challenged the authority of a federal judge to take control of all evidence from the ruins of the 1993 inferno at the compound. A department motion in a Waco district court said Judge Walter Smith has no legal basis for demanding the custody of documents and other evidence.

New test scores raised concern that minority students aren't being adequately prepared for college at a time when affirmative-action programs are in jeopardy. The College Board released the results of this year's SATs - and they showed that while overall scores held steady, the performance gulf widened between whites and minorities. Officials said this partly reflects the rising number of Latinos and blacks taking the test. Overall, math scores decreased one point from 1998's 27-year high of 512. Verbal scores remained at 505 for the fourth consecutive year.

Dennis - downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm - backtracked toward North Carolina's Outer Banks, threatening to flood the only highway available. A convoy of six National Guard trucks hauled food and water to the village of Rodanthe on the north end of Hatteras Island and was to continue delivering supplies to cut-off villages until Route 12 could be rebuilt.

Despite the lowest unemployment in three decades, younger workers are not brimming with confidence about the job environment, according to the results of a poll by the AFL-CIO. Among the 18- to 34-year-olds surveyed, more than 90 percent said the economic situation their families face is "just fair" at best. The perception is that basic needs such as retirement security, health care, and family-friendly jobs are lacking, said federation President John Sweeney. The AFL-CIO commissioned the poll as part of a campaign to recruit young workers.

Stricter head-protection standards went into effect for child car seats. Most new seats will now be equipped with a tether strap that anchors the top more securely. The change is the first phase of a plan to create a universal system that will eliminate confusion and prevent incorrect installation of up to 80 percent of car seats. Experts believe existing seats are safe when installed properly - but that the task needs to be simplified. Manufacturers are offering kits to add the tethers and new attachment points to existing seats and cars.

High-speed train service in the Washington-New York-Boston corridor will be put off until sometime next year, a federal government official said. With much fanfare, Amtrak had promised in March that the Acela trains would start running by the end of 1999. The source said Amtrak officials would try to blunt disappointment by announcing at a news conference that other new improvements would allow existing trains to run slightly faster until the new high-speed system is ready.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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