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Conservative presidential candidates warned Republican leaders that they risked more conservative defections like that of New Hampshire Sen. Bob Smith, who is said to be leaving the party to seek the presidency as the nominee of the US Taxpayer Party. Publisher Steve Forbes, for instance, blamed the "Republican establishment" for "running people like Bob Smith out of the party." Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan, activist Gary Bauer, and Forbes also criticized the GOP leadership for overreacting to Smith's rumored defection.

Ohio Rep. John Kasich said he was not sure if he would continue his bid for the GOP's 2000 presidential nomination. He told a group of 15 supporters at a house party in Milford, N.H., that he hadn't decided whether to go on, given the commanding lead in fund-raising and poll numbers held by the GOP front-runner, Texas Gov. George W. Bush. Kasich indicated he would decide soon whether to formally declare his candidacy or withdraw from the race altogether.

Vice President Al Gore was to propose photo licenses for all new handgun owners, a ban on cheap handguns, and increased spending on police training during a speech at the Boston Police Department. The vice president was also expected to call for more funds for the US court system - and for a constitutional amendment supporting the rights of crime victims.

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The NAACP was to announce a lawsuit seeking limits on handgun sales and marketing. The civil-rights group, gathering in New York for its 90th annual convention, will reportedly seek court orders forcing gunmakers to better monitor their distribution networks and to limit multiple purchases by individuals. A recent Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms study indicates 51 percent of guns used in crimes over the last three years by persons 18 to 24 years old were purchased illegally from licensed dealers by people acting as intermediaries for the real owners.

Nearly 20 percent of incarcerated violent offenders are said to be mentally ill, the US Bureau of Justice Statistics reported. In its first comprehensive report on the subject, the agency said an estimated 283,800 inmates held last year in state and federal prisons, as well as local jails, were afflicted by mental illness. In state facilities, nearly one in six inmates was said to be mentally ill.

President Clinton was to meet at the White House with Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who planned to complain of a decision to limit US lamb imports. Last Wednesday, Clinton decided to limit imports of lamb to 31,851 metric tons, the amount bought in 1998, subject to a 9 percent tariff for the first year. US ranchers had complained of surging shipments of New Zealand and Australian lamb.

Computer-security firms were updating virus-detection software after the launch at a hackers convention in Las Vegas of a tool designed for stealth invasion of networks operated by Microsoft Windows. The hacking tool, called "BO2K," can enable someone to gain control of a computer or network from a remote location. The hackers said they hope to force the world's largest software company to fill gaps in the security of its Windows software.

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