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The Supreme Court let stand a ruling that a state may not pay tuition for students to attend a religious school. The justices made no comment on the ruling by the Vermont Supreme Court that vouchers for a Catholic school would constitute public support of religious worship and therefore violate the state constitution. Vermont law allows students in districts without their own public schools to receive state money to attend other public or nonsectarian schools. It was the third time in little more than a year that the high court has passed up an opportunity to consider a case involving school vouchers.

Maryland prosecutors tried to convince a judge that they can prosecute Linda Tripp for wiretapping without unfairly relying on her testimony in the investigation of President Clinton. Prosecutors allege that Mrs. Tripp's secret taping of Monica Lewinsky was a crime. But Tripp testified about the tapes under a limited grant of immunity from independent counsel Kenneth Starr, so a judge in Ellicott City must decide whether the state's case is biased by statements she gave to Starr's office.

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San Franciscans go to the polls today to decide on electing either the city's first openly gay chief executive or reelecting a mayor for the first time in 16 years. The runoff pits incumbent Mayor Willie Brown, a legendary liberal and stalwart supporter of progressive causes, against Board of Supervisors president Tom Ammiano, a sometime stand-up comedian and perhaps the only politician in the city who can make Brown seem conservative.

Peace negotiations between Israel and Syria will resume tomorrow at the White House after an almost four-year hiatus. President Clinton will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa - who are heading their countries' delegations - and help guide them through a scheduled two-day round of talks focusing on Syrian demands for a return of the strategic Golan Heights.

Progress was reported in efforts to prevent a transit strike in New York tomorrow. Some 33,000 workers have threatened to walk off the job in the middle of the busy holiday season unless they reach a new contract with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani says a strike by public employees is illegal under state law.

The shuttle Discovery was cleared for liftoff Thursday in its mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. Over the week-end, technicians replaced a dented fuel line that had delayed liftoff. The flight was already running two months late because of repairs to shuttle wiring. The Hubble telescope is shut down and cannot resume astronomical observations until gyroscopes and other parts are replaced.

Former Monitor columnist Everett Carll Ladd, who died Dec. 8, was a polling expert who wrote and edited more than 20 books. He joined the University of Connecticut in 1964 as a professor of political science and edited Public Opinion magazine for about a decade. Ladd had recently retired as head of the Roper Center, a public-opinion research group founded by Elmo Roper.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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