News In Brief

The Discovery space shuttle was headed back to Earth, scheduled to touch down as early as Monday night, depending on weather conditions, and as late as Wednesday (to avoid any Y2K computer problems). If the orbiter cannot land at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Edwards Air Force Base in California is the backup site. Equipment and weather problems led to a record nine launch-day schedules, but once in space the crew was successful in repairing the Hubble Space Telescope. The mission included the second-, third-, and fourth-longest spacewalks by US astronauts - all eight hours or longer.

Four people, including a man suspected of having terrorist links, were arrested at the US-Canadian border in Blaine, Wash., according to Canadian law-enforcement officials. The arrests, which reportedly occurred Sunday, were not confirmed by the US Border Patrol or the FBI, nor was any terrorist paraphernalia reportedly found in a rental car driven by a woman who appeared to rendezvous with three men illegally on US soil. The arrests come during a period of heightened border security and follow several others made in recent weeks of individuals with terrorist connections. The manhunt for one suspected bomb-plot conspirator continues on both sides of the border.

In its latest denouncement of Russia's actions in Chechnya, the White House condemned Russia's military advances on Grozny, the besieged capital of Chechnya. An administration official warned that Moscow risked isolating itself "by continuing to use indiscriminate force" that could result in a "massive loss of life without a resolution." Russia has defended its actions, saying it aims to destroy Islamic fighters blamed for a series of bomb blasts in the Moscow and other cities.

President Clinton's top Y2K adviser said Sunday that the nation is ready for the new millennium. Top federal officials echoed this statement, reporting that power plants, prisons, hospitals, and air traffic-control systems are ready - and that military personnel will be monitoring missiles with the Russians. In New York City, meanwhile, extensive security is planned for the Times Square area, where 2 million revelers are expected for a 25-hour celebration. City officials have devised a strategy that calls for deploying 8,000 officers, as well as bomb-sniffing dogs. Manhole covers will be welded shut.

An estimated 2,500 firefighters from around the nation converged on Keokuk, Iowa, for a memorial service to honor three firefighters who died trying to save a mother and her four children. Among those present in the town's high school gymnasium were representatives of Worcester, Mass., where six firefighters died earlier this month in a warehouse blaze.

The US Postal Service announced Monday that it is issuing a special year-2000 stamp. Along with a commemorative first-day cover postmarked Dec. 31, it features a baby ringing in the New Year amid streamers and confetti. The art originally appeared on a 1937 Saturday Evening Post cover.

ESPN on Sunday gave the nod to Michael Jordan over Babe Ruth as athlete of the century, reversing the order of the top two in an Associated Press ranking. Filling out the top five were Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and Wayne Gretzky.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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