News In Brief

A permanent halt to the controversial use of Puerto Rico's Vieques Island as a Navy bombing range was expected to be announced by the Pentagon as the Monitor went to press. A senior official said "We plan to be out of there by May 2003" regardless of the outcome of a November referendum on the issue. The bombing has led to waves of protests since a civilian was killed there in 1999.

Special visas granted to thousands of foreign nationals who work as household domestics in the US expose them to abuse that is "largely hidden from public view," a new report alleged. Human Rights Watch detailed such cases as that of a Bangladeshi who allegedly worked seven days a week and whose pay was sent directly home to her husband. The special visas bind such domestics to their employers without the freedom to change jobs. Immigration law does not stipulate employment conditions, Human Rights Watch said.

Without vocal dissent, delegates to the Presbyterian Church's national assembly adopted a resolution urging talks with Roman Catholics aimed at formally recognizing each other's baptisms. Meeting in Louisville, Ky., the delegates also acknowledged the Catholic Church as "part of the body of Christ." Presbyterians trace their movement's origins to 16th century Calvinism, which joined other Protestants in splitting from the Vatican.

Two petitioners were denied access to photos of the autopsy of auto racing legend Dale Earnhardt by a Florida court. Circuit judge Joseph Will ruled no interests would be served by releasing the sealed pictures to a University of Florida student newspaper and a Web site except invading the privacy of Earnhardt's family. The plaintiffs said they wanted to review the work of medical examiners after Earnhardt died Feb. 18 in a crash on the final lap of the Daytona 500 race.

A lawsuit on violation of free speech grounds was filed against the mayor of Anchorage, Alaska, for ordering removal of an exhibit on homosexuality from the city's public library. The Alaska Civil Liberties Union argued that George Wuerch (R) may not "decide for the rest of us which ideas are OK to express and which are not." Aides said Wuerch objected to the hanging of "Celebrating Diversity under the Midnight Sun" T-shirts over elevator doors to symbolize "coming out of the closet."

Mandatory testing of fourth-graders in reading, science, and mathematics in New York City public schools is leading many teachers to seek reassignment, a published report said. The New York Times said teachers and principals worry that the exams cause undue pressure and take an emotional toll on pupils. Reassignment could further depress test scores because fourth-grade classes would be left to less-experienced teachers, principals warned.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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