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News In Brief

By CompiledRobert Kilborn and Cynthia Hanson / October 14, 1998

The US

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The White House and congressional negotiators narrowed the gap on the spending bill needed to avoid a federal shutdown, top Republicans said. But Democrats said wide gulfs remain in the $500 billion-plus omnibus measure. Education and environmental issues top their list. The House and Senate vote today on the last legislation before Congress adjourns to campaign for Nov. 3 elections.

President Clinton returned to Washington after Republicans criticized him for attending Democratic Party fund-raisers in New York while Congress grappled with the stopgap spending measure. Aides said the president canceled fund-raising appearances in Miami to be present during the negotiations.

The House approved a $9.2 billion tax cut over nine years that would extend credits for business research and for employers who hire individuals from group such as high-risk youth, ex-felons, and food-stamp recipients. A Senate plan would extend tax credits for a shorter period and include credits for employers who hire welfare recipients. Meanwhile, the White House proposed an additional $11.7 billion tax cut over nine years to the House plan, offset by a $13.1 billion tax increase.

The House unanimously approved a bill that would crack down on pedophiles who use the Internet to lure minors into sexual relations. It also would increase penalties for other crimes against children, including increasing to 15 years the maximum sentence for transporting a minor across state lines in order to engage in illegal sex or prostitution.

Three US-based scientists won the Nobel Prize in physics for discovering how electrons acting together in strong magnetic fields and extremely low temperatures can exhibit fractions of the supposedly indivisible unit electrical charge. This is like finding half a baseball. Robert Laughlin of the US, Horst Stoermer of Germany, and Daniel Tsui of China, who is now a US citizen, will share the $978,000 prize.

Uncle Sam is charging more greenbacks for green cards. The Immigration and Naturalization Service raised several of its fees affecting immigrants, including its application to apply for permanent residency from $130 to $220. But newcomers were given a reprieve on the cost of applying for citizenship: That won't change until Jan. 15, when application will soar from $95 to $225.

In a major gay-rights case, the Supreme Court let stand a voter initiative that barred Cincinnati from protecting homosexuals against discrimination. The justices, in a 6-to-3 decision, refused to hear a challenge to the controversial measure - which was approved by 62 percent of the voters in a 1993 referendum. It repealed two laws that had barred discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The court also planned to hear arguments on who should set some of the rules, such as price guidelines, when local phone markets open up to long-distance companies. Congress set a goal of opening the $100-billion industry two years ago. Now the federal government and AT&T and MCI are squaring off against state regulators and local phone companies over the competitive market. The court is expected to issue a decision next July.

American Home Products and Monsanto called off a proposed $33.5 billion merger, which would have been the biggest yet in the pharmaceutical industry. The merger, announced June 1, would have created a company with $3 billion in expected annual profits and a market value of $96 billion.

A former US Army intelligence analyst was arrested on charges of spying for Russia by allegedly passing highly classified documents to KGB agents. David Boone, who worked for the military's super-secret National Security Agency, was scheduled to appear in federal court in Alexandria, Va.

The World

NATO's capacity for air strikes against Yugoslav targets will remain in place despite the breakthrough in peace talks between President Milosevic and US envoy Richard Holbrooke, senior officials said. To stave off punitive attacks, Milosevic agreed to a withdrawal of Serb forces from Kosovo, inspections by international observers in the troubled province, reconnaissance flights by NATO planes, and opening negotiations with Albanian separatists for a peace deal.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu won his Cabinet's go-ahead to negotiate a land-for-peace deal with the Palestinian Authority at their three-day meeting with US diplomats beginning tomorrow outside Wash ington. A US proposal calls for Israel to yield a further 13 percent of West Bank territory in exchange for tough measures by the Palestinians against terrorism.