News In Brief

Among a number of rulings, the Supreme Court let states continue segregating prison inmates who are diagnosed with the AIDS virus. The justices rejected an appeal on behalf of affected prison inmates in Alabama who have been barred from programs available to other inmates. They also rejected an appeal from a retired Maryland teacher who argued that the state's law requiring public schools to close on Good Friday violated the constitutionally required separation of church and state. But a challenge to Indiana's so-called Good Friday law is pending before the court, which has not yet said whether it will fully review that dispute. In cases from Illinois and New York, the justices ordered lower courts to restudy rulings that direct states and their agencies to abide by a 1963 federal law requiring employers to give men and women equal pay for equal work.

President Clinton was to propose $280 million in additional funds aimed at curbing gun violence. The plan, part of his 2001 budget request, calls for hiring 500 new agents and inspectors at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. It also proposes a program to track guns through ballistics testing. The plan shifts away from emphasizing tougher laws related to gun control that failed in the House of Representatives last year.

Earnings for the poorest one-fifth of American families rose less than 1 percent between 1988 and 1998 - but jumped 15 percent for the richest fifth, two Washington-based think tanks reported. Among other factors, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Economic Policy Institute attributed the widening income gap to a booming stock market favoring wealthier investors and on lower-paying service work replacing manufacturing jobs.

Activists with the Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition threatened to boycott Georgia beginning Jan. 30, the day the Super Bowl is to be held in Atlanta, because the state flag incorporates an image of the Confederate flag. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People already is urging a tourism boycott of South Carolina, where an estimated 46,000 people marched on the Capitol in Columbia to demand the removal of the Confederate flag there.

The possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran is a growing worry, the Central Intelligence Agency and other national security officials agreed following a report in The New York Times about the Islamic republic's weapons capability. Their concern has heightened in the face of unsuccessful White House efforts to persuade Russia not to provide nuclear technology to Iran.

An estimated 100 Oglala Sioux on South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation took over tribal headquarters, alleging financial mismanagement and demanding that the governing council step down. The incident coincided with the seizure by federal agents of records from the tribe's housing authority. A search warrant authorizing that seizure was related to an investigation of programs funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, a US attorney familiar with the probe said.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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