News In Brief

By setting aside a ruling by Florida's high judiciary, the US Supreme Court appeared to narrow Al Gore's legal options in his fight to win the state's electoral votes and thus the presidency. The unanimous decision by the federal justices puts the Florida Supreme Court in the position of reviewing its controversial Nov. 21 decision. It had mandated that Florida's certified election results include the amended totals of ballots recounted by hand in selected counties. (Stories, pages 1, 2.)

But other legal cases were still pending over the Florida presidential vote. Another case involving hand counts was being considered by a county judge, and court officials indicated they'd postpone a decision in order to review the US Supreme Court ruling. The decision was to have been handed down yesterday afternoon following two days of hearings that lasted until about 10:45 p.m. Sunday.

In a sign that the economy may continue to slow, the New York-based Conference Board said a key gauge of future economic activity fell 0.2 percent in October. The business group's composite index of leading economic indicators declined to 105.5 that month after registering no change in September. The drop was slightly more than analysts had anticipated.

By executive order, President Clinton established the largest protected area in the US - an 84-million-acre ecosystem around the northwestern Hawaiian Islands. It contains almost 70 percent of coral reefs in the nation as well as pristine islands, atolls, and submerged lagoons. The order puts the reefs off limits to oil and gas production.

The crew of the shuttle Endeavour attached two giant solar panels to the International Space Station Sunday, but only one of them extended successfully. The second was hampered by a pin that didn't respond to a computer command to open. But engineers said the slack wing was producing electricity.

As the Christmas travel season approaches, Delta Air Lines confirmed it was forced to cancel almost 300 flights last weekend because pilots refused to work overtime. The unionized employees have been in negotiations with the No. 3 US carrier since September 1999. United Airlines and Northwest Airlines also have complained of recent job actions by negotiating workers that have created flight delays or cancellations.

Gwendolyn Brooks, who died Sunday in Chicago, promoted an understanding of black culture through her poetry and became the first African-American to win a Pulitzer Prize. She wrote hundreds of poems, had more than 20 books published, and had been Illinois's poet laureate since 1968.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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