News In Brief

A number of local newspapers around the country were predicting high voter turnout for what polls suggested was the closest presidential race in decades. But other analysts thought about half of eligible voters would make it to the polls, similar to a low turnout four years ago. George W. Bush and Al Gore, their campaigning concluded, awaited the results in the respective cities of Austin, Texas, and Nashville, Tenn.

The tobacco industry left no doubt it would appeal the $145 billion punitive-damage award in a class-action lawsuit after a Florida judge upheld the verdict Monday. Circuit Judge Robert Kaye concluded - although some analysts didn't agree - that the award was reasonable and did not violate a state law that prevents a punitive verdict from bankrupting a defendant. The developments came soon after a federal judge in Miami rejected efforts by the tobacco industry to move the case to US district court.

Several major drugstore chains moved to pull dozens of over-the-counter cold remedies and diet pills from their shelves after the government issued a warning about the ingredient phenylpropanolamine (PPA). The Food and Drug Administration raised concerns PPA could cause strokes and indicated it was writing a proposal to make the sale of the substance illegal. Some drugmakers that have used PPA already are pledged to reorganize their product lines. An estimated 6 billion doses of PPA are sold in the US each year, mostly in a nonprescription form like Dexatrim, Dimetapp, or Tavist-D.

President Clinton signed legislation Monday that provides $435 million to forgive debts of some of the world's poorest countries. The measure was backed by notables, among them Pope John Paul II. It meets a US commitment toward an international effort to forgive the debts of 33 nations. The relief is given on the condition that the savings are used for projects such as education, and that the recipients refrain from military conduct.

Guidelines were issued for the first time that prohibit the showing of R-rated "trailers," or previews ahead of feature films rated G or PG. The policy was adopted by the National Association of Theater Owners, which has 700 members. The group also agreed to guidelines that require high-ranking employees to enforce policies restricting access to films rated R and NC-17. The motion picture industry has been struggling to overcome criticism stemming from a federal report in September that alleged adult-rated entertainment is marketed to children.

David Brower, who died Sunday in Berkeley, Calif., transformed the Sierra Club from a small recreational hiking group into a politically powerful lobby. The environmentalist was considered by many to be a driving force behind today's conservation movements. In addition to becoming the Sierra Club's first executive director, he founded several other groups - among them the League of Conservation Voters.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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