News In Brief

The protracted fight for Florida's electoral votes and, thus, the White House appeared to be coming to a close. Al Gore instructed his aides working for a vote recount to close up shop, and the vice president scheduled an address to the nation in which aides said he'd concede the presidency to George W. Bush. The moves came after the US Supreme Court handed down a dramatic 7-to-2 decision overturning a Florida high court ruling that had allowed the counts of certain disputed votes. The federal justices also issued a 5-to-4 ruling that there was insufficient time for further recounts.

Retail sales unexpectedly fell 0.4 percent last month, led by the biggest drop in auto sales in more than two years. The Commerce Department said November's reading was the weakest performance since a 0.5 percent decline in April. Sales of new vehicles fell by 2.2 percent; excluding that, retail sales rose by 0.2 percent.

White House and congressional negotiators worked to put final touches on a $1.8 trillion budget compromise. The breakthrough on the overdue spending bills came Monday, when the two sides agreed on $108.9 billion for education, health, and labor programs. They also OK'd $1 billion in across-the-board cuts from other federal programs, including defense. Senate majority leader Trent Lott (R) of Mississippi said he hoped to pass the legislation today or tomorrow.

Against his attorneys' advice, convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh has sought to end appeals in his case and be executed within 120 days, a court document revealed. McVeigh, currently in federal prison in Indiana, was found guilty of bombing the Murrah Federal Building, which killed 168 people in 1995. US District Judge Richard Matsch, who presided at McVeigh's trial, could approve his request, reject it, or order a competency hearing first.

Inclement weather spread from the Midwest to the southern Plains, where freezing rain and snow iced up roadways. Thousands of customers were without electricity in northern Texas and southern Arkansas, and scores of flights were canceled at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. One storm-related death was reported in Dallas, where police said there were almost 200 fender benders. Above, Susana Hernandez, a produce vender in Dallas, shields herself from the cold temperatures.

Michael Jackson, Paul Simon, Aerosmith, and Queen were among the latest inductees announced for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Jackson and Simon already are in the hall for their roles in musical collaborations, but now they are to be recognized for their individual work. The induction ceremonies, held in New York, will be televised live March 19.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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