News In Brief

Florida's top election official declared she would enforce a 5 p.m. deadline today to finish recounting of presidential ballots cast in the state. That would put an end to time-consuming manual recounts that could favor Al Gore. The tabulation of overseas absentee ballots could continue, however. Warren Christopher, who is overseeing Gore's recount effort, vowed the ruling would be challenged in court and suggested the decision by Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, a Republican, was politically motivated. Volusia County, which is conducting a recount, filed papers in state court seeking to extend the deadline.

In a case likely to be of great importance to police departments nationwide, the Supreme Court agreed to clarify when law-enforcement officers can be held legally responsible for using excessive force during arrests. The justices said they will consider whether to throw out a civil rights lawsuit against a military police officer who detained a demonstrator during a 1994 speech by Vice President Gore in San Francisco.

The independent Postal Rate Commission approved increasing the price of a first-class stamp by 1 penny to 34 cents. The higher rate is likely to be effective Jan. 7; the last increase occurred Jan. 10, 1999. The cost of mailing a postcard will remain 20 cents.

Lawmakers headed back to Capitol Hill for the ninth lame-duck session in the past half century. The first order of business was expected to be the five remaining spending bills for fiscal 2001. Among the issues to be resolved are an increase in the minimum wage and higher Medicare reimbursements for healthcare providers.

In a major win for environmentalists, the Clinton administration announced expanded plans to ban thoroughfares in already-roadless national forests. The plan, which originally covered about 43 million acres, was revised to include 58.5 million acres, including Alaska's Tongass National Forest beginning in 2004. Some 1.5 million public comments were received on the plan, most advocating stronger environmental protections. Industry officials said many people with differing views didn't comment because they felt officials had made up their minds already.

Software companies issued warnings about "Navidad," a new computer virus that is spread by e-mail and can render computers inoperable. The problem was discovered earlier this month and has been found at more than 10 Fortune 500 companies, one computer-security firm said. The virus arrives as an attachment called navidad.exe, another firm said.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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