News In Brief

As voters prepared to go to the polls in New Hampshire's presidential primary, late opinion surveys showed as many as one-third of them had yet to make a firm decision on the candidates. Texas Gov. George W. Bush pulled even with Sen. John McCain of Arizona by winning support from previously undecided Republicans, while Vice President Al Gore built a modest lead over Democrat Bill Bradley by wooing independents and men.

The St. Louis Rams beat the Tennessee Titans, 23-16, in one of the tensest finishes in Super Bowl history. The Rams stopped a Titans offensive one yard short of what would have been the tying touchdown as time ran out. The win was the first in two Super Bowl appearances for St. Louis head coach Dick Vermeil, who returned to the sidelines in 1997 after coming out of a 14-year retirement.

Gov. George Ryan of Illinois imposed a moratorium on capital punishment and planned for a special panel to study why more death-row inmates in the state have been exonerated than executed. Since capital punishment was reinstated there in 1977, 13 death-penalty cases have been overturned, while 12 sentences were carried out. Ryan's decision would make Illinois the first of the 38 states with capital punishment to halt executions while it reviews death-penalty procedures.

House Republicans put final touches on proposed legislation to ease the so-called marriage penalty in income taxes. While President Clinton has outlined a 10-year, $45 billion plan to fix the penalty, the GOP bill is estimated at $180 billion over 10 years using projected surplus dollars, sources with the House Ways and Means Committee said. Remedying the marriage penalty is a goal of both political parties.

Microsoft Corp. added several high-profile allies to its roster for the Justice Department's antitrust trial, including two former US attorneys general, two ex-White House counsels, and the general counsel for AT&T when it agreed to a breakup in the 1980s. Courtroom arguments in the case are set for Feb. 22, although secret settlement talks continue in Chicago. Legal filings are expected today about which antitrust laws, if any, the software company violated during the "browser wars" of the past decade.

The US Energy Department proposed that oil companies bid on taking fuel from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve, sell it on the market, and then - as payment - return more product to the emergency stockpile, a government official said. The long-term goal of the plan, which was reported in Time magazine, is to enlarge the reserve by swapping high-priced oil with larger quantities of cheaper oil, the official said. But the official also noted that a short-term side effect could be a drop in crude-oil costs, which have recently hit nine-year highs. The White House may issue a decision on the proposal within two weeks, the official said.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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