News In Brief

In the final stretch before tomorrow's New Hampshire primary, Democrat Bill Bradley branded Vice President Al Gore an unreliable defender of abortion rights, while Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona suggested Texas Gov. George W. Bush was "not ready for prime time." Bradley sought to trim Gore's lead in opinion polls; McCain was aiming to hang onto his slight advantage over Bush - who campaigned for the first time alongside his father. Meanwhile, the conservative New Hampshire Sunday News said it was giving "an almost endorsement" to Bradley because of Gore's "dishonesty" over statements regarding his stance on abortion.

Reversing a position it held for decades, the federal government concluded that hundreds, possibly thousands of workers who built America's nuclear weapons likely became ill because of exposure to radiation or toxic chemicals. The findings cover 14 weapons sites where there were 600,000 employees. They could lead to compensation for the families of some workers, many of whom were unaware of the danger. The studies examined health records and other data from the late 1940s into the '60s.

A college librarian held in China for almost six months on suspicion of gathering state secrets returned to the US. Song Yongyi, a Chinese national, had traveled to the country to study the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution - during which he himself was imprisoned for four years. Song, who refutes the accusations against him, attributed his release to China's desire to gain admission to the World Trade Organization.

The super-secret National Security Agency confirmed its computer systems experienced a "serious" problem affecting its ability to process intelligence data for three days last week. NSA, which eavesdrops on conversations overseas to monitor possible security threats, said the problem - reportedly caused when the system was "overwhelmed" by too much data - had been resolved. While the agency was confident "that no significant intelligence information has been lost," the glitch did hinder processing of intelligence data, including reports from Fort Meade, Md., that interpret intercepted foreign telephone, cable, and radio messages.

The grandmothers of Elian Gonzalez planned to return to Cuba, believing they "got their message across," a spokeswoman for the National Council of Churches, which facilitated the women's visit, said. Over the past week Mariela Quintana and Raquel Rodriguez made their case to US officials that the six-year-old boy be returned to his father on the communist island. Elian remains in the US for now, however, although the federal court case to decide his future accelerated when the judge moved up a hearing from March 6 to Feb. 22. Meanwhile, US Rep. Dan Burton (R) of Indiana visited Elian in Miami and said the boy declared he doesn't want to return to Cuba.

NASA scrambled to determine whether the shuttle Endeavour's engines are safe to fly after a defective seal was discovered on Discovery. Endeavour is to begin an 11-day flight today, but worsening weather forecasts added to doubts about the launch. The mission aims to map more than 70 percent of Earth's terrain, gathering nine times more topographic data than are currently available.

Super Bowl fans in Atlanta encountered icy conditions that affected much of the South. The frigid weather forced both the St. Louis Rams and Tennessee Titans to cancel Saturday practices, but warmer weather was expected in time for the game.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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