News In Brief

A Maryland court ruled that Linda Tripp didn't have immunity as soon as she turned over secret tapes of Monica Lewinsky to the office of independent prosecutor Kenneth Starr. Howard County Circuit Judge Diane Leasure said Mrs. Tripp's immunity didn't begin until Feb. 19, 1998, when a federal judge signed an immunity order. The ruling means Mrs. Tripp wasn't protected when her attorney played a Lewinsky tape on Jan. 17, 1998, to Newsweek magazine. Tripp is scheduled to stand trial in January on charges of violating a state wiretapping law.

Scientists reported successfully transferring a frozen embryo from one species to another for the first time - bringing a rare African wildcat to term in the womb of an ordinary house cat. Researchers at the Audubon Institute Center for Research of Endangered Species in New Orleans said they grew the embryo in an incubator for five days, then froze it for a week at minus 373 degrees F. to advance the idea that extinct species might be re-created years later by thawing frozen embryos.

California's Supreme Court pulled from the state's March 7 primary ballot an initiative that would transfer responsibility for reapportionment from the legislature to the high court and cut legislators' pay. In a 5-to-2 ruling, the court said Proposition 24 violated a state constitutional rule limiting initiatives to a single subject. The decision marks only the sixth time the court has removed an initiative from the ballot. Republicans had hoped Proposition 24 would prevent the state's Democratic-controlled legislature from drawing new lines for congressional districts.

A former New York City policeman who brutalized a prisoner in a precinct bathroom was sentenced to 30 years behind bars and ordered to pay $277,495 restitution to his Haitian-immigrant victim. Justin Volpe, who pleaded guilty to violating the civil rights of Abner Louima, could have received a life sentence for the 1997 attack.

The nation's trade deficit set a record for the third consecutive quarter, widening to $89.95 billion, the Commerce Department reported. The current-account deficit was $80.9 billion in the second quarter. It includes not only trade in goods and services, but also investment flows and spending on foreign aid.

Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt recommended protecting four Western sites as national monuments. President Clinton is expected to make a final decision on the controversial plan next year. Also, Clinton was expected to send to Congress a list of 18 natural and historic sites he would like to see protected under the administration's "legacy initiative," a $652 million program to protect farms, forests, and urban parks.

Joseph Heller, who died Sunday in East Hampton, N.Y., was the author of "Catch 22," a modern American classic that captures the utter senselessness of war. Although Heller wrote at least seven other books and several plays, it was his madcap first novel - considered far ahead of its time when first published in 1961 - for which he has been most honored and is perhaps best remembered.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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