News In Brief

Telephone giant Verizon Communications struck a contract agreement with two-thirds of its striking employees, effectively ending the 15-day walkout. Company officials said they were working to complete negotiations with the southern unit of Communications Workers of America (CWA). Union workers won a 12 percent wage increase over three years, improved pensions and other benefits, and continued job-security protections. Analysts said the strike was likely to cause more damage to Verizon's public image than to its profits.

More than a dozen states have used an accounting gimmick to drain $3.5 billion from the federal Medicaid program, USA Today reported. The story quoted federal officials who said 18 states are using a loophole first employed by Pennsylvania. In some cases, states used their windfall from the $200 billion federal health-insurance program to pay for nonhealth programs. Though state governments, healthcare providers, and some members of Congress defend the legal loophole, Department of Health and Human Services officials have been seeking a gradual closure.

India's software industry lobbied Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to push the US, which he is to visit next month, to raise the cap on work-permit visas awarded to technology professionals. An Indian software industry group seeks a "totalization agreement" with Washington to eliminate Social Security payments and other added costs. The US high-tech sector, hungry for the technology workers India exports, is hoping Congress raises the quota for H-1B visas from the current 115,000 per year. One proposal in Congress seeks a quota hike to 200,000 per year.

Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush was expected to propose $1.3 billion in new military spending for pay raises, school construction, and veterans' healthcare. He also was to pledge an "orderly and timely" withdrawal of troops from Bosnia and Kosovo.

Overcoming a gritty challenge from an unlikely opponent, Tiger Woods capped one of the greatest single seasons in golf history with a one-shot playoff victory at the PGA Championship. Woods matched Bob May's five-under-par 31 on the back nine, then outdueled the journeyman in a three-hole playoff at Louisville, Ky.'s Valhalla Golf Club. Woods' 18-under-par performance now gives him the scoring record at all four major championships.

Safety officials investigating a natural gas explosion that killed 10 people in New Mexico said the suspected pipeline was 50 years old but had recently passed inspection. A 22-foot section of the pipeline was to be sent to Washington for examination. Two people survived the blast that left a massive crater near the Pecos River.

Hurricane warnings were issued for several northeastern Caribbean islands as tropical storm Debby moved toward land. Meteorologists said the storm could reach hurricane winds of 74 miles per hour.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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