News In Brief

Under fire from congressional Republicans, Department of Energy Secretary Bill Richardson appointed a bipartisan commission to study the missing nuclear secrets at Los Alamos National Laboratory. An FBI investigation was expected to focus on 26 people who had unescorted access to the vault where two classified computer hard drives were stored. The incident is expected to quicken the approval of Deputy CIA Director John Gordon as head of a new semi-independent nuclear weapons agency.

An intense legal tug of war gave Microsoft a preliminary victory in its legal fight with the federal government as the US Circuit Court of Appeals - considered sympathetic to the company - agreed to hear the case. The decision came as the Department of Justice, which is seeking to split the software giant in two, asked US District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson to fast-track the case directly to the Supreme Court. In its brief, Microsoft accused Jackson of committing serious errors and asked for a stay of both the break-up Jackson ordered and the business restrictions he imposed to take effect Sept. 6.

Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore launched a three-week "progress and prosperity" tour with promises to use an unexpectedly large federal budget surplus for a host of new initiatives. Claiming credit for the country's record economic expansion, Gore pledged tax cuts for retirement savings, to eliminate the US debt by 2012, and to create new funds for the environment, education, and healthcare.

Consumer prices rose 0.2 percent in May, a lower-than-expected figure that, analysts said, could keep the Federal Reserve from raising interest rates for the seventh straight time later this month. Drops in energy and clothing prices offset higher food costs to keep the rise in the consumer price index slight. Inflation is running at 3.6 percent this year, compared with 2.7 percent for 1999.

Anticipating a fierce election-year battle for control of the House, congressional Republican leaders reportedly have established monetary quotas for individual members as part of their fundraising effort. Officials familiar with the plan, dubbed "Battleground 2000," say it uses committee assignment incentives to spur individual fund-raising efforts in hopes of amassing $16 million for key races. Democrats, who need six seats to to win back a majority in the House, have raised more campaign money this year than the GOP.

Rivals in the race to complete mapping of the human genome were negotiating a compromise aimed at establishing joint credit for the project and easing their public dispute. Nearing completion of the landmark effort, officials at Celera Gen-omics and the Human Genome Project were said to be brokering a deal on the public availability of the finished data and timing of publication.

As expected, the Southern Baptist Convention in Orlando, Fla., approved a revised statement that forbids women from serving as pastors. Measures urging opposition to racism, abortion, and homosexuality also were OK'd.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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