Lawyers for George W. Bush and Al Gore prepared for a Florida Supreme Court hearing today on whether hand-counted votes must be considered in determining which presidential candidate wins the state's crucial electoral votes. Katherine Harris, Florida's secretary of state, declared last week she wouldn't include manual recounts in the state's certified results, but the justices barred any certification until at least today's hearing. Following the tabulation of overseas absentee ballots over the weekend, Bush slightly widened his lead, to 930 votes - a margin his supporters argued was lower than it should be because of the disqualification of 1,420 ballots. Democratic vice presidential nominee Joseph Lieberman voiced some sympathy - and said hand recounts should have similar consideration.
US airlines will fly a record 20.5 million passengers during a 12-day period around Thanksgiving, the Air Transport Association estimated. The industry trade group projected that next Sunday will be the busiest travel day in US history. The crunch comes after a summer of flight delays and cancellations, and in the midst of contract problems at every major domestic carrier. Friday, United Airlines obtained a temporary restraining order from a federal court in Chicago against alleged work slowdowns by its mechanics.
President Clinton, in his weekly radio address, announced new regulations aimed at making it easier for working families to obtain food stamps. The Agriculture Department, he said, is acting to allow states to provide a three-month benefit for families going from welfare to employment. The government also will require states to let working families know whether they are still eligible for food stamps. About 62 percent of households eligible for the aid do not receive it, the Agriculture Department has reported.
Police took a harder line against unruly protests on the third day of an international trade conference in Cincinnati, arresting at least 47 people and bringing the total to 53. Demonstrators, against whom chemical sprays were used, represented causes ranging from environmental concerns to the alleged exploitation of workers. Reasons for arrests included rioting, disorderly conduct, and forgery for faking press passes. At the Transatlantic Business Dialogue conference, trade officials and corporate executives put together recommendations aimed at promoting free trade.
Investigators determined that an explosion killing two adults and leveling the only public school in Plankinton, S.D., was caused by a propane gas leak, a state fire marshal said. Classes likely will be held at other buildings in town, the school board indicated, declining offers from nearby districts to take on students while the school is rebuilt. The school serves 190 pupils drawn from a rural area of more than 250 square miles.
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