News In Brief

A majority of Americans favors sending US peacekeepers to Kosovo as part of a NATO force, although four out of five think President Clinton should get approval from Congress first, a new Gallup poll indicated. Fifty-four percent of respondents favored committing US troops; 40 percent opposed it. People were about evenly divided when asked if they favor airstrikes against Serb military installations if no peace accord is reached. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told Congress there is "zero chance" that a peace plan for Kosovo can succeed without a peace force that includes US troops.

The Senate overwhelmingly approved the biggest military pay raises since the early 1980s. As a GOP priority, the bill was the first taken up after the impeachment trial. It authorizes a 4.8 percent hike Jan. 1, 2000 - and subsequent raises 0.5 percentage points above average private-sector wage increases. An administration proposal calls for a 4.4 percent military pay increase, to be followed by 3.9 percent hikes in the next four years. A 3.6 percent military pay raise was included in the fiscal 1999 defense bill.

The government enlisted retirees in its fight against Medicare fraud, angering some physicians, who said it would encourage patients to inform on doctors. The Health and Human Services Department said it's teaming up with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and the Justice Department in a new assault on overpayments. Seniors will be given baseball caps and a toll-free number to report mistakes or possible fraud.

TV commentator Pat Buchanan will launch his third presidential bid next week in New Hampshire, officials involved in his nascent campaign said. Buchanan shook the GOP establishment by winning the state's primary in 1996. He began a leave of absence from CNN this week.

The Census Bureau said it plans to use statistical sampling as well as a traditional headcount to determine the US population in 2000. Last month, the Supreme Court ruled the bureau couldn't use sampling to set the number of congressional seats allotted to each state. But the court left open the possibility of other uses of sampling.

Meat companies can use irradiation to kill bacteria, if they prominently label packages, the Agriculture Department said. Irradiation exposes food to small amounts of radiation from X-ray machines or electron accelerators that kill bacteria without raising temperatures. Officials said an irradiation symbol must be "prominently" placed on packages.

Baseball's New York Yankees and pro basketball's New Jersey Nets are teaming up, The New York Times reported. It said they were expected to enter a joint-ownership accord that would include marketing, TV rights, and sponsorships. As part of the deal, the teams are expected to establish a 50-50 ownership in which they will exchange stock and the Nets will pay some cash, the Times said.

Pentagon officials denied charges by Iraq that US warplanes attacked a civilian area in Baghdad. They said US jets attacked two missile sites and a radar installation - all within the southern no-fly zone, which does not extend into Baghdad.

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