News In Brief

By a 381-to-46 vote, the House passed a $15.2 billion foreign-aid bill for the 2002 fiscal year that includes $676 million to fight the Colombian drug trade. The measure also provides $2.7 billion in military and economic assistance for Israel, $474 million for AIDS programs, $768 million to states of the former Soviet Union, and $600 million for Southeast Asia and the Balkans. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 18 to 11 along party lines to approve legislation that bans human cloning as well as the use of cloning technology to treat diseases. In passing the measure, lawmakers said they want to keep scientists from applying the same techniques on humans that were used to clone animals. The measure now goes before the full House.

A federal appeals court ordered the government to rewrite standards for hazardous waste-burning, ruling that the US lacks proper limits on airborne emissions of dioxins, mercury, and metals. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said that since the standards "fail to reflect the emissions achieved in practice by the best-performing sources" as required by the Clean Air Act, they must be sent back to the Environmental Protection Agency for revisions.

Firefighters were battling a massive blaze in Lancaster, Pa., caused by a gasoline pipeline explosion in an open field. There were no reported injuries. The Exxon-Mobil pipeline had been leaking fuel, which was ignited by a spark from a pickup truck.

After a one-day delay, the shuttle Atlantis touched down at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, completing its mission to install a new $164 million passageway for spacewalkers at the International Space Station. Atlantis's five astronauts had spent 13 days in space.

The teen birth rate fell to a record low last year, continuing a steady drop that began in the early 1990s, the National Center for Health Statistics reported. For every 1,000 females aged 15 to 19, there were 48.7 births in 2000 - the lowest rate in the 60 years statistics have been kept. Analysts attribute the drop to such factors as increased abstinence, more awareness of HIV/AIDS, and more use of contraceptives.

A Texas death-row inmate won a temporary reprieve hours before his scheduled execution while the state's highest court considers its first appeal under a new law giving inmates access to state-paid DNA testing. The law, in effect since April 5, allows access to DNA tests that could exonerate convicts if they were not available at trial.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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