News In Brief

The crucial summit between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was set to begin today at Camp David in Maryland, despite challenges to Barak's government. The negotiations are aimed at bridging gaps on the status of Jerusalem, borders, Palestinian refugees, and the future of Jewish settlers. President Clinton hopes the parties will meet a deadline of Sept. 13 to secure a broad framework agreement.

President Clinton said he wants to establish a home heating oil reserve for the Northeast, where residents were squeezed financially to stay warm last winter. Through administrative action, Clinton ordered that 2 million barrels of oil be tapped from the nation's strategic petroleum reserve and set aside for Northeastern states. Under current law, Clinton lacks the power to release the oil but is asking Congress to approve a mechanism for it.

US gas prices dropped an average of 4.45 cents a gallon during the past two weeks due to dramatic drops in the Midwest, industry analyst Trilby Lundberg said. It was the first extended decline since prices began skyrocketing two months ago. The weighted average price of gas nationwide was $1.67 last week. In Chicago, the average price per gallon dropped 28.5 cents, to $1.85.

The US Army was to announce a new education plan to help millions of soldiers earn college degrees and technical certificates through a global system of online learning, the Los Angeles Times reported. The move is aimed at countering a concern among potential recruits that they face a choice between serving in the military or pursuing higher education. With a price tag of $550 million, the program is designed to let recruits earn college degrees within four years, no matter where they are stationed.

Thousands of NAACP delegates gathered in Baltimore for a week-long convention that leaders envision as a platform for the civil rights group to assert its influence in the presidential campaign. President Kweisi Mfume told reporters that his organization aims to register 4 million voters this year, a task he estimated as "70 percent" complete. In addition, members of the nation's largest civil rights group will hear from presidential hopefuls Al Gore and George W. Bush, as well as Green Party nominee Ralph Nader.

The explosion of computer viruses and denial-of-service attacks will cost companies worldwide more than $1.5 trillion this year, according to an InformationWeek survey. It also showed that in the US alone, damages in the form of lost revenue spurred by viruses and computer hacking will amount to $266 billion, or more than 2.5 percent of the nation's gross domestic product. The survey was completed by 4,900 security professionals spanning 42 countries.

US tennis player Pete Sampras celebrated his victory over Australian Patrick Rafter in the men's singles final at Wimbledon, where he won a seventh Wimbledon title - his 13th Grand Slam title overall. Venus Williams was the women's champion, beating Lindsay Davenport.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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