Attorney General Janet Reno urged Cuban exiles in Miami to obey the law after some of them pledged to resist any federal effort to take away Elian Gonzalez from his Florida relatives so he can be returned to his father. As the Monitor went to press, the relatives were continuing talks with US immigration authorities over whether they'd agree to surrender the boy if they lose their court fight to keep him out of Cuba. The Immigration and Naturalization Service pushed back a deadline on the matter to 9 a.m. today, after which it said it will revoke Elian's temporary residency status with his great-uncle if there is no agreement.
Meanwhile, Cuban and US representatives were meeting in Washington to discuss a Cuban proposal to send a delegation - including Elian's father - to reclaim him. Also, the mayor of Miami-Dade County said local police wouldn't help federal officials remove the boy.
The US economy soared to an annual growth rate of 7.3 percent in the last three months of 1999, its strongest performance in 15 years, the Commerce Department said. The surge in the gross domestic product - the total output of goods and services - marked a better-than-expected revision from a previous estimate that the GDP was expanding at a 6.9 percent rate in the fourth quarter. The higher estimate reflected new data showing exports were stronger than believed and business construction was increasing at a faster pace.
A Kentucky judge ordered US Tobacco Co. to pay $1.05 billion in damages to rival Conwood Co. in a federal antitrust suit over the former's marketing tactics. Conwood had alleged that UST maintained its dominant position in the smokeless tobacco segment through anti-competitive practices, among them vandalizing and removing Conwood store display racks.
An antitrust investigation began into whether gunmakers are targeting Smith & Wesson in retaliation for its agreement to put safety locks on handguns, The New York Times reported. In exchange for the safety-lock agreement, a number of municipalities and the US government agreed to drop threatened lawsuits and give Smith & Wesson preference when buying new weapons for law-enforcement agencies. The Times said other gunmakers and dealers opposed to the deal have put financial pressure on Smith & Wesson, with some retailers refusing to carry its weapons.
Reform Judaism became the first major religious denomination to sanction officially same-sex unions, as its Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) approved a resolution backing any rabbi's decision to preside over a homosexual union. But in a compromise reflecting the issue's sensitivity, the CCAR said it would support the decision of rabbis who choose not to officiate at such ceremonies.
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