News In Brief

Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush hoped to ride a wave of momentum into New Hampshire after scoring victories in the Iowa caucuses. Gore led the Democratic field in Iowa by a large margin, defeating Bill Bradley 63 to 35 percent. The Republican race was closer, with Steve Forbes garnering 30 percent to Bush's 41 percent. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, who finished last in the field of Republican candidates with 1 percent of the vote, is expected to announce today that he's quitting the race, a senior adviser said.

The two grandmothers of Elian Gonzalez were to meet with US lawmakers to press their case that the six-year-old be returned to Cuba. The women returned to Washington after an unsuccessful visit to Miami, where they had hoped to meet privately with their grandson at a neutral site. But Elian's Miami relatives insisted the meeting take place at their home - an invitation the grandmothers declined. Meanwhile, legislation was introduced in both the House and Senate to make Elian a US citizen. Senate majority leader Trent Lott said his chamber might debate the measure as early as today.

A former Soviet spy, repeating allegations in his 1998 book, testified at a House Government Reform Committee hearing that other intelligence operatives from his government placed weapons and communications caches in California and other states as part of a plan to destabilize the US, the Los Angeles Times reported. But critics said Stanislav Lunev who is in the federal witness-protection program, has never been able to identify a specific location of one of the alleged sites.

President Clinton's proposed budget for 2001 would pay off the $3.6 trillion national debt by 2013, two years earlier than expected, the White House claimed. It said the plan would devote interest savings to Social Security, allowing that program to remain solvent beyond 2050. The proposal comes as the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is expected today to release three surplus projections for the coming decade. Congressional aides said Democrats would likely embrace the smallest projection - $1 trillion, excluding Social Security - which assumes the most spending. Republicans, aides said, may endorse a projection totaling $2 trillion, which leaves more money for tax cuts. The third projection is also $2 trillion, but was arrived at differently, congressional sources said.

The first report to Congress by the Amtrak Reform Council challenged the passenger rail service's claim that it is on target to become self-sufficient by the end of fiscal year 2002, as required by Congress. Amtrak responded that more recognition was due for business achievements recently cited by Wall Street debt-rating agencies.

Consumer confidence soared in January to the highest level recorded since measurements began in the 1960s, the New York-based Conference Board reported. The index rose to 144.7, up from 141.7 in December.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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