News In Brief

Stocks were trading modestly higher at midday as investors sought a direction following Wall Street's most volatile session in history Tuesday. In that session, the Nasdaq Composite Index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average each dropped more than 500 points, but the stampede reversed as buyers snapped up bargains. Most stocks ended the chaotic session with only moderate losses.

The judge who ruled that Micro-soft violated antitrust laws indicated he wants to "fast track" the company's appeal directly to the Supreme Court to avoid delays that could "disrupt the economy," a court transcript revealed. Thomas Penfield Jackson told lawyers in the case he might make the Supreme Court referral even before the remedy phase of the trial begins, which he wants to complete within 60 days.

The International Monetary Fund said it will strengthen safeguards on loans to borrowing countries in response to allegations that central banks in Russia and Ukraine deceived it to obtain new financing. A senior official said new auditing requirements for borrowing countries' central banks were intended to ensure future IMF loans were properly used. He said the IMF will propose more reforms at meetings with the World Bank in mid-April.

Negotiations between the Miami relatives of Elian Gonzalez and federal immigration officials were suspended until today, with apparently little progress in deciding how the boy would be returned to his Cuban father. The latter had yet to leave Havana on his proposed trip to reclaim custody. Meanwhile, an estimated 200 demonstrators at the home of his great-uncle broke down barricades, chanting, "Elian won't go!"

The National Rifle Association has given more than $550,000 to Republican Party committees this election cycle, putting it for the first time among the GOP's top-five donors of unregulated "soft money," The Washington Post reported. That means the NRA has contributed six times as much to GOP committees as during the entire 1996 campaign, the Springfield, Va.-based Campaign Study Group concluded. The Post attributed the increase to the fact that both the House and White House are up for grabs and because proposed gun-control measures have gained momentum in the wake of last year's Columbine (Colo.) High School shootings.

Archaeologists have found new evidence that humans inhabited the Western Hemisphere as early as 17,000 years ago, The Washington Post reported, add-ing fuel to the debate over who the first Americans were. The discovery came from tests at a southern Virginia sand dune. The findings ranged from 10,920 to perhaps 17,000 years old. The more recent corresponds to the "Clovis" culture, regarded as America's first, created by immigrants who crossed a land bridge from Asia. Evidence of a "pre-Clovis" culture casts doubt on the long-held theory.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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