News In Brief

The Justice Department ordered US marshals to seize a tape from the FBI that was recorded the day an inferno broke out in the Branch Davidians' compound in Waco, Texas. The previously undisclosed evidence had been discovered in the files of the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team at Quantico, Va., FBI officials said. The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times quoted officials as saying an audio track on the infrared tape picked up the voice of an agent seeking and receiving permission from a commander to fire incendiary tear-gas grenades at the bunker.

The possibility that Russian organized crime has penetrated Western financial institutions is the focus of a federal probe, The Wall Street Journal reported. Leads from informants and other sources reportedly triggered the investigation into whether "moles" placed in banks and securities firms are laundering money and engaging in illegal transactions.

The Florida Supreme Court unanimously upheld the state's term-limits law. The justices rejected appeals suggesting that voters were confused in 1992 when 77 percent of them approved the measure. The decision means that more than 65 state lawmakers will have to give up their seats next year.

Mixing cell-phone use and driving became punishable in the Cleveland suburb of Brooklyn, Ohio, perhaps the first US community to crack down on the practice. An ordinance warning drivers was passed in March, and now police are ticketing them: $3 for first offenses - up to $100 for second offenses or when an accident is involved. A crash caused by an inattentive user spurred passage of the law, which makes exceptions for emergency calls and those made from parked cars.

Machinists ratified a new Boeing contract, with 86 percent of affected union members approving the amicable settlement. The machinists had gone on strike over two of the last three contracts with the aerospace giant - most recently for 69 days in 1995. This pact includes two annual wage increases of 4 percent and a third-year 3 percent raise, as well as a 10 percent signing bonus worth $4,400 to average union members.

Nearly one-third of Major League Baseball umpires lost their jobs in a complex deal brokered by a federal judge left to sort out a messy labor affair. At midseason, in anticipation of hard bargaining over a new contract, more than 50 umps announced a mass resignation effective Sept. 2, a ploy that backfired when baseball accepted the resignations. Some quickly rescinded their resignations, but the 22 others were thumbed out. They'll be paid the rest of the year and may take the dispute to arbitration.

Retired hockey star Mario Lemieux made North American sports history when his bid to buy his former team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, was approved by the National Hockey League's board of governors. The decision paved the way for the former six-time scoring champion to become the first retired player to secure ownership of a modern major professional team. Lemieux, who hung up his skates in 1997, is the lead investor in an ownership group committed to keeping the franchise in Pittsburgh.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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