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In the last debates before next Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, both Democratic and Republican presidential candidates took tough stands against one another. Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain of Arizona were accused by their Republican rivals of being too soft in their positions against abortion. Democrat Bill Bradley, meanwhile, alleged that Vice President Al Gore mischaracterized his (Bradley's) positions and lied about his record. Gore attacked Bradley for opposing welfare reform enacted by the Clinton administration and supporting tax cuts made in the 1980s under President Reagan.

The Justice Department asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit by Elian Gonzalez's Miami relatives that seeks to overturn a federal order to return the boy to his father in Cuba. In a filing, the department said the relatives lack the legal right to raise a claim and that aliens such as Elian have no constitutional right to apply for asylum in the US. After meeting with him in Miami for an hour and a half Wednesday, his grandmothers said they found him "changed" and urged his return to the communist island, a confidante of the women said.

Federal officials believe they've found a link between accused terrorist Osama bin Laden and Algerians charged with plotting an attack in the US, The New York Times reported. Moham-bedou Ould Slahi, a brother-in-law of one of bin Laden's key aides, has been placed under arrest in Senegal per a request by Washington. US investigators believe the man, a citizen of Mauritania, directed the Algerians' alleged efforts, the Times said. Although Slahi has not been charged, the newspaper reported, federal prosecutors in New York are preparing formal charges that could be used as the basis for extradition. Meanwhile, security experts testifying before a House Judiciary Committee panel urged heightened US border security and stricter Canadian immigration laws.

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In a last-minute preview of President Clinton's State of the Union address, the White House released details of a $3 billion increase in education spending that he is to propose. The plan includes $1 billion to expand after-school and summer-school programs - more than double the $453 million enacted last year.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers proposed tax credits to help low-income families buy insurance, days after Clinton proposed his own $110 billion health-insurance package. The congressional proposal, estimated to cost about $70 billion over 10 years, is the first major bipartisan, bicameral initiative on behalf of the uninsured since 1994, Sen. Jim Jeffords (R) of Vermont said. But questions arose over how much the tax credit actually would help families in the face of rising insurance costs.

Alan Greenspan sailed through a hearing before the Senate Banking Committee on appointing him to a fourth consecutive term as chairman of the Federal Reserve. He reported that the Fed is studying recent high levels of borrowing by investors to buy stocks but indicated the central bank is reluctant to tighten the limits on such practices.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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