News In Brief

Crime rates fell in 1999 for the eighth consecutive year, the FBI reported. But there were suggestions that the decline could be bottoming out. The agency's annual Uniform Crime Report, compiled from national police data, found that serious offenses declined 7 percent last year and that the murder rate dropped to its lowest level since 1966. Analysts said the decrease may be leveling off, however, because crime in big cities, an indicator of national crime trends, fell less last year.

As the remains of five of the 17 sailors killed in a bomb attack of the USS Cole arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, President Clinton dispatched 100 security personnel to the Gulf of Aden to help protect officials investigating the cause of the blast. In a letter to congressional leaders, Clinton said the personnel would be armed as a precautionary measure.

The administration has endorsed a congressional measure that would raise $10 billion to fund high-speed rail travel, The Washington Post reported. Approval of the legislation, which has widespread support in Congress, was stalled as the Transportation Department negotiated its wording with Amtrak. The legislation calls on states that qualify for higher-speed rails to put interest earned from bond purchases into a fund managed by a private trustee to help pay for the upgrades.

GOP congressional leaders said they could complete the $1.8 trillion federal budget by next weekend, as well as pass a $300 billion tax cut and raise the minimum wage before the 106th Congress adjourns. The House and Senate have passed a series of stopgap spending measures to keep the government running as it works to approve funding for unresolved budget measures ranging from education to foreign aid.

Hundreds of thousands of people were expected to swarm the Mall in Washington today to participate in the Nation of Islam's Million Family March. According to the organization's leader, Louis Farrakhan, the event is intended to promote responsibility, atonement, and reconciliation among families of all races. The festivities and speeches mark the fifth anniversary of the so-called Million Man March, which included only blacks.

The crew of the shuttle Discovery completed a difficult mechanical operation on the international space station without the use of video equipment. Japanese astronaut Kiochi Wakata received verbal directions to help him attach a key piece of hardware to the station while operating a 50-foot mechanical arm. Solar panels will later be attached, making the station one of the brightest objects in the sky.

Nevada residents will be able to place bets on sporting events via their personal computers beginning later this month, the state's Gaming Control Board announced. But officials said the new feature does not constitute Internet gambling, because participants must first sign up and deposit money at a casino in person to obtain personal passwords to the Web site. Gambling via the Internet is prevalent outside the US, experts said, because betting on sports events is illegal in most states.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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