News In Brief

The Pentagon was to continue analyzing data from a failed test of a missile defense system, before Defense Secretary Cohen makes a recommendation to President Clinton on the immediate future of the system. Pentagon officials already have determined that Saturday's test went awry when the kill vehicle wasn't released from the booster rocket, because the latter failed to send a required electronic signal. The officials also discovered the rocket swerved off course. The failure was the second one in three tries for the controversial system, for which another 16 tests are scheduled in the next five years.

A committee of the Democratic Party drafted a platform calling for open trade, federally required certification of teachers, strict gun control, and continued support for the death penalty. The policy positions, which the committee discussed Friday, also included proposals for tax cuts that would allow middle-class families to save for college, pay for health insurance, and build additional security for retirement. The platform, which dovetails with the agenda of Vice President Al Gore, the Democrats' presumptive nominee, will be weighed for final approval during the party's convention in Los Angeles Aug. 14-17.

Episcopal Church leaders overwhelmingly approved a historic pact in Denver Saturday that would allow them to share clergy, sacraments, and mission work with the nation's largest Lutheran denomination. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America approved the alliance last year. It's to take effect Jan. 1, and also includes a compromise that would require new Lutheran bishops serving in Episcopal churches to go through that denomination's ordination.

After the hanging death last month of a local black teen, the Rev. Jesse Jackson led about 1,000 demonstrators in Kokomo, Miss., Saturday - and was planning for another march in a nearby town the day after. Medical examiners have ruled Raynard Johnson's death a suicide, but many protesters believed he may have been killed for associating with white women in the community. Jackson, president of the civil rights group Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, also drew attention to a high rate of suicides among blacks in Mississippi jails.

Half of 12-year-olds in the US hold jobs like baby-sitting or yardwork, and by age 15, almost two-thirds are employed on at least an informal basis, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. Working 15- to 17-year-olds spent an average 23 hours on the job in summer months and 17 hours during the school year. White teens are more likely to work than minorities, the study also found.

Tens of thousands of children lined up around the country beginning Friday night to buy "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." J.K. Rowling's much anticipated book about the boy wizard had an initial printing of 5.3 million copies in the US and Britain, reportedly the biggest such run in history.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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