News In Brief

Declaring "they will have to take this child from me by force," Elian Gonzalez's great-uncle vowed to defy a government order to take the boy to a Miami-area airport so he could be flown to Washington for a reunion with his Cuban father. But in response, Attorney General Janet Reno said there wouldn't be immediate use of force if yesterday's 2 p.m. deadline passed without compliance on the part of Elian's Miami relatives. As the Monitor went to press, an estimated 1,000 protesters - some of whom have declared resistance "to the end" - gathered outside the great-uncle's Miami home where Elian has been staying.

The Nasdaq Composite Index continued its steep slide Wednesday, plummeting 286 points and closing at 3,769.63, its second-worst point drop in history. It came after a Goldman Sachs analyst lowered expectations for Microsoft's revenue for the quarter just ended. Microsoft's woes also demolished a rally by the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which fell 161.95 to 11,125.13.

South Carolina's Senate approved a bill that would remove the Confederate flag from the State House dome. It would place a similar low-flying battle flag behind an existing monument honoring Confederate soldiers in front of the capitol. The NAACP rejected the plan and continued its tourism boycott, saying the location still represents a position of sovereignty and is too visible. The bill needs approval by the Republican-controlled House, which twice refused to pass such a measure.

House and Senate negotiators agreed to give $5.5 billion to struggling farmers by Oct. 1, with $1.64 billion more to be paid out later. The move marks the third large bailout from Congress in as many years, as depressed markets have left farmers with the lowest commodity prices in 25 years. Much of the aid likely will go to farmers who grow grain and cotton and have "market-transition" contracts with the government. But the payments can't be made until Congress passes legislation to release the money.

Under legislation passed by the House, the Northeast could create a 2-million-barrel home heating-oil reserve to help avoid sharp upswings in prices. The bill also enables the government to help small-scale drillers stay afloat at times when oil prices drop too low to make production viable. Meanwhile, the Senate approved a bill to make it easier for hourly employees to receive stock options from employers. They would be treated as a benefit and could not be used in lieu of regular salary or in calculating overtime pay.

A jury in Cleveland refused to clear Sam Sheppard of the 1954 bludgeoning death of his pregnant wife, a crime that inspired the TV series and movie "The Fugitive." The trial was brought about by Sheppard's son, Sam Reese, who claimed his father was wrongfully imprisoned for 10 years for a crime he didn't commit. The elder Sheppard was convicted of murder in 1954, but after the US Supreme Court granted him a new trial in 1966 because of concerns about pretrial publicity, he was acquitted.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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