Across The Nation

Barge loaded with heating oil breaking up off Rhode Island

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. - A single-hulled barge carrying 4 million gallons of home heating oil was breaking up in heavy surf and leaking its cargo last night after a tugboat explosion forced the crew to abandon ship. No injuries were reported.

The tug fire burned out without spreading to the compartmentalized barge, which began breaking apart at about 8:30 p.m. after hours of being battered by huge waves and 60-mph winds about 900 feet off Matunuck Beach on Rhode Island's southern coast.

The tanker Exxon Valdez, which spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil off Alaska in 1989, caused significant environmental damage, but heating oil evaporates more quickly.

The spill area is near Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge, which has large juvenile fish and duck populations.

Shuttle Endeavour lands after nine days in space

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - Space shuttle Endeavour and its crew returned to Earth with a rare nighttime landing early today, ending a busy nine-day flight spent fetching satellites and walking in space.

Endeavour landed at 2:42 a.m. EST on a floodlit runway at Kennedy Space Center, following a journey of 3.7 million miles. It was only the eighth time in 74 missions that a shuttle touched down in the dark.

New probe of trips by admiral forced out over rape remark

WASHINGTON - The four-star admiral recently forced into retirement by the Pentagon for his comment about the rape of a Japanese girl is under investigation for allegedly using a military jet to fly across the Pacific to visit girlfriends last year.

Adm. Richard Macke, 58, commander of all U.S. forces in the Pacific, allegedly had his military air crew fly him twice from Hawaii to the Miramar Naval Air Station in California and once to the Washington, D.C., area on trips that were mainly personal.

On one of the trips to California, Macke allegedly left his air crew at Miramar for four days while he took a commercial flight to Las Vegas with a Marine lieutenant colonel based at Camp Pendleton whom he was dating.

Macke, who is recently divorced, was forced to accept early retirement on Nov. 17, hours after he told reporters that the three servicemen accused of raping a 12-year-old Japanese girl could have hired a prostitute for the amount they paid to rent the car they used to abduct her.

GOP seeks day's delay for State-of-the-Union response

NEW YORK - For the first time, Republican leaders are asking the networks to let them wait 24 hours to respond to President Clinton's State of the Union speech.

Yesterday's request complicated plans for television coverage of Tuesday's 6 p.m. PST speech, which by tradition is followed immediately by a response from leaders of the party not in the White House.

CNN spokesman David Talley said that network would air the GOP response on Wednesday. ABC rejected the unprecedented request for a prime-time slot the next day.

NBC, CBS and Fox news executives were still considering the request.

`Top Gun' co-producer, 50, found dead at Bel-Air estate

LOS ANGELES - Don Simpson, 50, who co-produced the blockbusters "Top Gun" and "Beverly Hills Cop," was found dead yesterday, apparently of natural causes, at his estate in Bel-Air, police said.

It was the second death at Simpson's home in five months. His friend Stephen Ammerman was found dead in the pool-house shower at the estate Aug. 15. Ammerman, 44, died of an accidental drug overdose.

Cyberspace is also subject to copyright law, judge rules

WASHINGTON - A federal judge ruled yesterday that an Arlington, Va., man violated copyright laws when he dumped sacred texts of the Church of Scientology onto the Internet, saying words enjoy legal protection even in cyberspace.

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema said there was such compelling evidence of copyright violation that she found no need to send the case involving Arnaldo Lerma, 45, to a jury.

Copyright cases involving the Internet are increasing as use of the World Wide Web grows. Most suits involve software manufacturers seeking to prevent the dissemination of pirated programs.

Using an electronic scanner, Lerma posted training materials from the Religious Technology Center, an arm of Scientology. The materials were written by L. Ron Hubbard, a former science-fiction writer and founder of the religion.

Brinkema said a "fair use" exception allows publications to disseminate some copyrighted material, but permissible excerpts generally must be brief and used to illustrate a larger story.

Federal buildings to set place for missing-children posters

WASHINGTON - President Clinton signed an order yesterday requiring all federal buildings to set aside space for posters about missing children.

Attorney General Janet Reno said a special area for the posters will be maintained inside all federal buildings. Special prominence will be given to posters of children abducted by nonfamily members.

The president also directed Reno to speed up the process by which the National Crime Information System electronically transmits notice of missing children to 16,000 police departments across the country.