News In Brief

Al Gore was to unveil in Milwaukee a sweeping proposal for eliminating "soft money" campaign donations and financing US elections with a new $7.1 billion endowment fund. In his speech, according to copies obtained by The New York Times and Washington Post, the vice president also was to pledge that campaign finance would be the first piece of domestic legislation he'd submit to Congress as president. Yet, last week alone, Gore raised $400,000 for his own campaign and $2 million for the Democratic Party. Analysts said the proposal was a preemptive strike against Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the presumed Republican presidential nominee who already has made Gore's fund-raising tactics in the 1996 campaign an issue.

The Supreme Court refused to force the government to restore food stamps and other benefits for legal immigrants cut off in a 1996 welfare overhaul. The justices, without comment, rejected an appeal by Chicago officials and a group of noncitizen residents who said the overhaul violated their equal-protection rights. The court also rejected a case in which rock climbers argued they should have legal standing to challenge the National Park Service's policy of discouraging such activity at Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming when native Americans hold sacred ceremonies. In a third case, the justices rejected an appeal by Kansas officials involving state universities and colleges. The officials had argued schools are immune from maneuvers in which students file for bankruptcy protection and then try to avoid paying back their education loans.

As a biotechnology industry convention got under way in Boston, demonstrators protested what they see as a lack of testing and information for consumers about genetically modified foods. Estimates put the crowd, many of whom were dressed as mutant vegetables and animals, at anywhere from 1,000 to 3,500. Although police had braced for protests like those that disrupted the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle, there were no arrests.

An estimated 1,000 Lutherans gathered in Mahtomedi, Minn., to organize an effort to rework part of a pact with the Episcopal Church. They want "historic episcopate," as the Episcopal ordination practice for bishops is called, not to be a mandatory part of the alliance. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America already has ratified the pact; Episcopalians are expected to approve it in July.

At a march and summit on hate crimes in Atlanta, Martin Luther King III, son of the late civil rights leader, urged an estimated 750 youths to "stand up" when lives are lost because of prejudice. The march memorialized 15 young people including Matthew Shepard, a gay college student who was beaten to death, and Amadou Diallo, an unarmed African immigrant who was fatally shot by four New York City police officers.

As planned, Seattle's Kingdome crashed to the ground when 21.6 miles of demolition cord exploded. A few windows in nearby buildings were shattered, but seismic experts from the University of Washington and the US Geological Survey said vibration was well below allowable limits. The demise of the 24-year-old building makes room for a new $430 million football-soccer stadium, just south of the Seattle Mariners' recently opened $517 million baseball park.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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