News In Brief

The Supreme Court turned away arguments that the homeless have a right to beg for handouts at the city beach in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. A group of homeless people had challenged a municipal ban on begging in a class-action lawsuit, saying it violated their First Amendment guarantee of free speech.

New York City was ordered to restore funding to the Brooklyn Museum of Art in a multimillion-dollar dispute over its controversial "Sensation" exhibit. Federal District Judge Nina Gershon granted a museum request for the preliminary injunction, saying it had "established irreparable harm and a likelihood of success on its First Amendment claim." The order bars Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and other city officials from "taking steps to inflict any punishment, retaliation, discrimination, or sanction" against the museum.

The Coast Guard was set to shift from a rescue to a recovery operation, as hope of finding survivors faded in the wake of the EgyptAir Flight 990 crash off Nantucket, Mass. Investigators began the painstaking task of trying to figure out what caused the jetliner to plummet early Sunday from an altitude of 33,000 feet with 217 passengers and crew members aboard. The FBI and other agencies are considering the possibility of sabotage, but officials said there was no indication of foul play.

Gifts to charities were up 16 percent last year, The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported. It was the biggest increase since the journal began tracking charitable support in 1991. Educational institutions collected the most funds among groups included in the study, bringing in $11.6 billion - 21.9 percent more than in 1997. The Chronicle gathered data from 139 colleges and universities, 37 international organizations, and 27 religious groups.

Governorships are at stake today in Mississippi and Kentucky as voters across the nation go to the polls for local and state elections. The outcome could set the tone for national elections in 2000.

Tobacco companies were set to defend themselves in the damage-award phase of a landmark trial in Miami, where a jury has already decided that cigarette smoking causes disease. In this phase, the jury has to put a price tag on that verdict. An industry attorney and analysts have said a lump-sum decision could approach $300 billion, which would seriously damage the embattled industry.

A new Gallup survey found more Americans saying they believe in ghosts and witches. In the poll, taken before Halloween, one-third of respondents said they believe in ghosts - three times the number who said that two decades ago. One in five said he or she believed in witches - twice as many as 20 years ago.

Construction spending was up an unexpectedly strong 0.5 percent in September, the Commerce Department said. The rise surprised analysts, many of whom had forecast a 0.2 percent drop. Spending rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $700.1 billion, after a sharp 0.8 percent decline in August.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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