News In Brief

The Pentagon said it is investigating why a prototype "hit to kill" interceptor failed to destroy a dummy warhead during a test Tuesday above the South Pacific. The interceptor was launched from Kwajalein Atoll after its target lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Another test, which was deemed successful, was conducted last October; a third is scheduled for April or May. The results of the tests will likely affect President Clinton's decision this summer on building a limited US missile defense at a cost of at least $12.7 billion.

A federal grand jury indicted two more men linked to an alleged plot involving Algerian terrorists that stretched across the US and into Canada. Abdel Ghani Meskini and Mokhtar Haouari have been accused of violating a federal law against providing support to terrorists. The two may be linked to a man arrested in Washington State last month. That arrest sparked concerns of an attack timed to New Year's Eve.

Clinton proposed a $110 billion health-care initiative, although the plan includes several measures that have stalled in Congress before. The initiative would build on the Children's Health Insurance Program by providing coverage for parents whose children already are enrolled. Another measure would offer tax breaks to 2 million Americans struggling to provide long-term care for elderly or disabled relatives.

An 8 percent drop last year in personal bankruptcy rates is the largest decline on record, the Consumer Federation of America reported. The Washington-based group concluded that consumers borrowed more cautiously, which forced credit-card lenders to curb solicitations. But in 1998, 1.4 million Americans filed personal bankruptcies - a 300 percent increase from 1980.

Protesting Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's decision to end affirmative action for state contracts and university admissions, more than 20 Democratic lawmakers and an estimated 200 protesters staged a sit-in at the Capitol in Tallahassee. The demonstration took place in and near the office of Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan, a key player in the repeal decision.

Despite rising mortgage rates, housing construction shot up 7.1 percent last month, capping the best year for builders since 1986. Aided by favorable weather, builders began work at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.71 million units, the Commerce Department said.

A nephew of the late Robert Kennedy was en route from his Florida home to answer charges that he beat a childhood friend to death in Greenwich, Conn., 24 years ago. A lawyer for Michael Shakel confirmed his client is the suspect cited in a murder warrant issued when he still was a juvenile.

Three students died and hundreds of others were evacuated when a dormitory caught fire about 4:30 a.m. yesterday at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J. Fifty-four students were injured.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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