News In Brief

The manufacturer of a gun used in a 1993 San Francisco massacre must stand trial, a California appellate court ruled. The court reinstated a civil suit against Navegar Inc., the maker of a semiautomatic pistol used to slay eight people. The decision marks the first time a US court has allowed a gunmaker to be sued in a criminal shooting. In ruling that Navegar can be held liable for the weapon's misuse, the judges cited the company's marketing practices and the weapon's lack of apparent legitimate civilian uses.

A first test of a national missle defense system is scheduled for tomorrow over the South Pacific. The plan calls for launching a dummy warhead from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., and shooting it down with an interceptor missle fired from Meck Island in the Marshalls. The system is designed to destroy missles from rogue nations or terrorists, not to withstand all-out attacks.

The CIA announced plans to become a presence in California's Silicon Valley. In an effort to stay abreast of developing computer technology, the agency will set up a venture capital company, In-Q-It. Besides sharing information with universities and investing in high-tech firms, the company will form joint ventures to aid it in addressing computer security issues and information gathering.

Motion picture director Steven Spielberg, singer Aretha Franklin, humorist Garrison Keillor, and playwright August Wilson were among the recipients of national arts and humanities medals, presented at a White House dinner to individuals or institutions active in supporting the growth and availability of arts and humanities to the public.

An Illinois jury began deliberations in the $5.4 billion class-action lawsuit accusing State Farm, the nation's largest auto insurer, of fraud and breach of contract for failing to restore customers' cars to pre-accident condition. Policyholders claim the company pays only for after-market auto parts, not ones that meet original factory specifications. State Farm lawyers argued that the parts are good and saved customers $233 million in premiums last year.

Thirty-six impovderished countries will be forgiven their debt to the US so long as they use the money saved on basic human needs, Clinton told the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. African nations are expected to be the main beneficiaries.

The Defense Department said it had no evidence that an alleged massacre of civilians by US troops in the opening days of the Korean War occurred. The denial came in response to an Associated Press story based on interviews with numerous American veterans of the conflict. Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon called the allegations "obviously disturbing," but said they had been investigated "time and time again." The AP reported claims by some veterans that "hundreds" of civilian refugees trapped beneath a bridge near the town of No Gun Ri were shot. The South Korean government has denied claims for compensation by survivors of the alleged attack.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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