News In Brief

Sonar tapes recorded by the American submarine USS Memphis support the theory that a faulty torpedo exercise sunk the Russian sub Kursk, US officials said. According to senior intelligence and Navy officials, the Memphis captured sounds of two explosions which they believe resulted from a torpedo misfiring, and, later, an explosion of the torpedo's warhead. A Norwegian seismic institute also reported recording two explosions. Russian officials have proposed several theories to explain why the Kursk sank Aug. 12, killing all 118 people on board.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert offered significant concessions to Democrats in a move to end a stalemate over a bill raising the minimum wage, The New York Times reported. Earlier this year the House and Senate approved different measures raising the wage by $1 to $6.15 an hour, but a conference committee had failed to reconcile the two proposals, which differ in the timing of implementation. In a letter to President Clinton, Hastert agreed to Democrats' demands to spread the $1 increase over two years rather than three. Republicans were worried, analysts said, that failure to pass the popular bill could hurt them at the polls.

New-home sales shot up 14.7 percent in July, the biggest jump in seven years, the Commerce Department reported. The spurt surprised many economists, who had predicted a much smaller increase of about 1 percent, analysts said. Some economists say rising salaries and a strong stock market have sparked more home purchases, despite rising mortgage rates caused by the Federal Reserve's decision to raise interest rates six times in the past 14 months.

A federal judge ruled the Los Angeles Police Department can be sued as a racketeering enterprise in the so-called Rampart corruption scandal. Lawyer Stephen Yagman, who represents a client claiming to have been beaten and framed by Rampart officers, said US District Judge William Rea's decision marked the first time a judge had allowed a government entity to be sued for racketeering - a criminal enterprise that affects interstate commerce. Because the statute of limitations for racketeering extends back 10 years, more plaintiffs could bring suit against the police department.

High school students' math scores on the SAT jumped this year to the highest level since 1969, officials with the New York-based College Board announced. The average math score on the Scholastic Aptitude Test climbed three points to 514, while the average verbal score remained steady at 505. Educators credited the increase to students taking more math and science courses in high school. The exam is used in admissions by most four-year colleges and universities.

The American woman imprisoned on treason charges by a military court in Peru will receive a new, civilian trial, government officials in Lima said. Lori Berenson was found guilty in 1996 of allegedly helping the Marxist Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement. Her parents, have maintained their daughter's innocence and led a campaign for her release. The move could have been the result of Peru's wish to improve relations with the US, after allegations of fraud during its presidential election, analysts said.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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