News In Brief

The US and Vietnam have reached broad agreement on an economic deal meant to turn the former military foes into trading partners, negotiators said. Under the accord, the US would ease restrictions on imports from Vietnam, which include low-cost manufactured goods and agricultural commodities. The Clinton administration also has pressed Vietnam to ease its restrictions on US goods and services, and to loosen barriers on foreign investment. The US would be expected ultimately to grant Vietnam permanent normal trade ties as part of a trade deal.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators at the Camp David Mideast peace summit have agreed to start work on the future of Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Post reported, citing a source close to the talks. The newspaper said a proposal by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak would include an exchange of territory, in which Jewish neighborhoods in bordering East Jerusalem would be incorporated into Israel, while some Palestinian neighborhoods would be handed over to the Palestinians. Meanwhile, President Clinton stepped back from the summit temporarily, turning over the reins to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

By a 253-to-95 vote, the New Hampshire House impeached Chief Justice David Brock, the first justice to face such action in the state in 210 years. The House rejected impeachment for two other members of the high court. Legislators charged Brock with perjury and improperly attempting to influence a lower court decision. He also was charged with allowing a fellow justice to influence his own divorce case. No Senate trial date has been set.

The US Justice Department launched an investigation into the videotaped beating of a black suspect by Philadelphia police officers following a stolen car chase and shootout. A dozen officers - black and white - were involved in Wednesday's alleged beating of Thomas Jones. The city's black mayor cautioned against jumping to conclusions, saying police were trying to apprehend a suspect who had shot an officer and resisted arrest repeatedly.

The number of Americans claiming unemployment benefits shot up last week to its highest point in more than a year, reflecting in part layoffs in the auto industry as plants gear up for new models. A seasonally adjusted 319,000 Americans filed new applications for jobless benefits, up by an unexpected 27,000 from the previous week, the Labor Department reported.

With a vote of 269 to 159, the House again passed a 10-year, $182 billion "marriage penalty" tax cut aimed at some 25 million couples who pay higher income taxes than they would if they were single. A February vote on a similar bill was filibustered. The Senate was to take up its version imminently. Meanwhile, ignoring a threatened veto, the House rejected an amendment to a foreign aid bill that would have added $390 million over the next two years for an international debt program. The current bill would provide $82 million of $435 million requested by Clinton for relief to 40 of the world's poorest countries.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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