News In Brief

The nation's personal savings rate hit a a negative 0.2 percent in July - the lowest since the Commerce Department began tracking the index on a monthly basis in 1959. The reading came about because Americans' personal incomes rose a modest 0.3 percent last month, while spending went up twice as fast, by 0.6 percent. A negative savings rate implies that consumers are financing their spending through borrowing or by using previously accumulated savings or investments.

Gasoline prices came off a two-month decline and rose an average of 1.87 cents per gallon in the past two weeks, a survey of 10,000 stations nationwide found. Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg said the average cost was $1.55 per gallon, with the lowest being $1.34 in El Paso, Texas, and the highest $1.86 in San Francisco.

In possibly the most significant instance yet of his making religion part of the presidential campaign, Joseph Lieberman told a Detroit congregation Sunday that faith should have a larger role in the nation's public life. The Democratic vice presidential nominee, who is the first Jew to run for national office on a major party ticket, argued that the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion has been confused to mean "freedom from religion." Lieberman spoke to black parishioners affiliated with the United Church of Christ and also was scheduled to address an interfaith breakfast in Chicago.

Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush, meanwhile, planned to discuss education reform in six states this week - although rival Al Gore's focus on healthcare had the potential to dominate the campaign discourse. Bush, who has slipped in polls following the Democratic convention, was to have started his "education tour" last week but ended up defending his $1.3 trillion tax-cut proposal instead.

The Marine Corps' temporary grounding of three different types of aircraft for safety inspections meant that an unusually large portion of its aviation fleet is out of operation. The Corps announced Sunday it had halted flights of all its MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, which has been under increased scrutiny since one crashed in April, killing 19. Engineers were to examine an interconnect drive shaft, which failed on a flight last week. AH-1W Cobra attack helicopters also were to be grounded, because of concerns about cracks on older rotor blades. And CH-53E Super Stallion transport helicopters were taken out of service, based on findings from an investigation into the Aug. 10 crash of a similar model.

President Clinton and an aide to Bush each tried to use to his advantage a report by the Justice Department on crime. It found that the total number of nonlethal violent crimes - such as rape, robbery, and assault - dropped by 10.4 percent last year to the lowest level since the government began keeping records 27 years ago.

Just two weeks before classes are to begin, Los Angeles public schools are short 40 principals, officials said. The district's new superintendent, Roy Romer, called on retired administrators to fill the vacancies - some of which may not be filled permanently until October. Part of the shortage stems from a reorganization of the 711,000-student district - the second largest in the nation - which created 11 subdistricts and a number of new administrative posts.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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