Countries consider time out on the ‘leap second’

GENEVA (AP) ? The U.N. telecom agency says countries are poised to decide this week whether to drop the 40-year practice of adding leap seconds to keep atomic clocks in sync with the Earth day.

The International Telecommunication Union says a U.S.-backed proposal would allow atomic clocks to run unadjusted for the planet’s irregular rotation.

Vincent Meens, an ITU official who has chaired technical talks on the issue, said Tuesday that approving the plan would let operators of cellphone networks, financial markets and air traffic control systems rely on the near-absolute precision offered by atomic clocks without having to worry about the impact of adding leap seconds every year or two.

The plan is opposed by some astronomers, as well as countries such as Britain, Canada and China.