News In Brief

After absorbing the shock of Russian troops entering Pristina, the Kosovo capital, officials in Washington tried to be upbeat about the news. Defense Secretary William Cohen called the situation confusing but ultimately hopeful - a sign the Russians are eager to help out and an opportunity for NATO and Russia to reprise the successful joint peacekeeping in neighboring Bosnia. There, Russians operate alongside NATO forces and - while they have a separate commander - they ultimately report to a NATO general.

Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the GOP front-runner, left no doubt he's running for president during his first campaign swing through Iowa. Meanwhile, a Time/CNN poll of probable voters gave Bush a 55 percent to 42 percent lead over Vice President Al Gore, the leading Democratic candidate.

A Republican effort to bar funds for any operations - peaceful or otherwise - in Yugoslavia after Sept. 30 was removed from a $288.8 billion defense-spending bill after President Clinton wrote a letter promising to seek congressional approval for US participation in an international peacekeeping force. The bill, which contains a 4.8 percent military pay raise and would tighten security at nuclear-weapons laboratories, passed on a 270-to-155 vote. It must be reconciled with a similar Senate-passed bill.

Clinton condemned abusive child-labor practices in poor countries and endorsed efforts to forge a global agreement on curtailing the exploitation of children. In a commencement address at the University of Chicago, the president said he had issued a directive to all federal agencies "to make absolutely sure they are not buying any products of abusive child labor."

The US and Libya held high-level official talks for the first time in 18 years. On the agenda at the UN meeting were Security Council requirements for permanently lifting sanctions against Libya, imposed in 1992 to compel Tripoli to turn over two suspects in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jetliner that exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people. The sanctions, including an arms and air embargo, were suspended April 5, when Libya turned over the two men for trial in the Netherlands under Scottish law.

A panel to recommend whether war games should continue on the island of Vieques in Puerto Ricto was created by Defense Secretary Bill Cohen and Navy Secretary Richard Danzig. The move came after the Navy temporarily halted weapons practice on the 21-mile-long island. There have been numerous protests at a Navy base there since two Marine jets mistakenly dropped bombs on an observation tower April 21, killing one civilian and injuring three others, as well as a Navy officer.

A Michigan man was found guilty of violating a state law on public swearing in front of children. Jurors in Standish deliberated less than an hour before ruling against Timothy Boomer of Detroit. The case, based on the 102-year-old statute, pitted free-speech advocates against those trying to curb offensive language. Judges in two other Michigan counties had thrown out similar cases, saying they were unconstitutional. An attorney for Boomer said an appeal was planned.

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