News In Brief

The Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that the Food and Drug Administration lacks the power to regulate tobacco products, in effect rejecting the Clinton administration's main antismoking initiative. The justices said the FDA overstepped its authority in 1996 when it issued sweeping regulations to crack down on cigarette sales to minors. The ruling, which was hailed as a victory for the tobacco industry, will shift the battle over federal tobacco regulation to Congress, which could give the FDA the power it has sought to exercise. (Story, page 1.)

A Miami court upheld a decision by US immigration officials that Elian Gonzalez, the young shipwreck survivor off the coast of Florida, should be returned to his father in Cuba. US District Judge Michael Moore dismissed a lawsuit filed by the six-year-old's Miami relatives, concurring with the ruling by the Immigration and Naturalization Service that only Elian's father could speak for the boy and his wishes should be respected. The Miami relatives were expected to appeal the decision. (Story, page 3.)

The US trade deficit widened to another record in January, rising by 13.8 percent to $28 billion as oil prices surged and products from Canada, China, and elsewhere flooded the country, the Commerce Department reported. Imports of foreign-made cars, computers, aircraft parts, and other products surged to an unprecedented $112.07 billion, outpacing exports of $84.06 billion, the report said.

The crucial third test of an antimissile national defense system has been pushed back from April 27 to June 26, Pentagon sources said. Spokesman Kenneth Bacon explained the delay was ordered to fix a cooling system in the interceptor weapon. President Clinton still would have enough time to make a decision on deploying the system before his term ends, Bacon said.

John McCain, returning to his Senate post for the first time since halting his underdog Republican presidential bid, said he would "support" the candidacy of George W. Bush in November. But in a interview for CBS News, McCain stopped short of endorsing the Texas governor and ruled out any interest in becoming his running mate. He also reiterated that he has no plans for an independent or third-party run.

H. Rap Brown, the former Black Panther leader who fled Atlanta last week after being accused of killing a law-enforcement official, was arrested near Whitehall, Ala, police said. The 1960s militant, now known as Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, allegedly began a shootout with US marshals before the arrest, an FBI spokesman said. He was expected to be returned to Atlanta, where last Thursday he allegedly shot two deputy sheriffs - one fatally - as they tried to arrest him on charges stemming from an incident in May 1999.

A US district court panel ruled 2 to 1 that residents of Washington do not have a legal right to a vote in Congress. The city has one congressional delegate, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), but she is not allowed to vote on the House floor. The judges forming the majority acknowledged the setup is an "inequity" but one that is is stipulated by the Constitution.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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