USA

Sen. Jesse Helms (R) of North Carolina was to announce plans to step down when his term ends, opening up a seat Republicans hope to keep if they are to regain control of the chamber. Helms for 30 years has been a crusader for conservative social causes, opposing abortion, condemning civil-rights marchers in the 1960s, and advocating school prayer. It was not immediately clear which Republicans might seek his seat in 2003. Another Senate Republican, Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, also has said he won't seek reelection next year. (Story, page 1.)

If the US and Russia fail to reach agreement on missile defenses by November, the Bush administration will use its right to unilaterally withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, Undersecretary of State John Bolton said. But in a radio interview in Moscow, he said the White House would rather come to a joint decision with Russia and hoped for progress before Presidents Bush and Vladimir Putin hold a scheduled summit three months hence. Russia opposes dismantling the ABM treaty, which bans national missile-defense systems. The US wants to proceed with such a system because of threats from rogue nations.

The projected federal budget surplus for fiscal 2001 has fallen to $158 billion, only $1 billion above the tax receipts that flow to Social Security, the White House Office of Management and Budget reported. Aides said this is largely because of Bush's tax relief package and the sluggish economy. Though the surplus revision is $123 billion less than an April estimate, it still will be the second-largest ever, Bush aides said. Forecasters envisioned a similarly small non-Social Security surplus of $1 billion in fiscal 2002. (Story, page 1.)

Napster, the embattled music file-swapping service, will begin offering subscriptions later this year that guarantee payments to artists, its chief said. In his first public comments, Konrad Hilbers said Napster would be back online as soon as it complies with a court ruling to remove copyrighted material from its website and can police itself to ensure none is being traded for free. He said Napster could still allow people to swap free music, as long as it's not copyrighted.

The FBI arrested eight people allegedly involved in a $13 million scam to rig customer participation in McDonald's restaurant promotions over the past six years. Authorities said the scam was headed by a worker at Los Angeles firm Simon Marketing, which ran such promotions. Taking a portion of the winnings, Jerome Jacobson allegedly distributed winning game pieces to friends and business associates, who found others to claim prizes. Consumers were told they could win up to $1 million from game pieces on food containers.

A Los Angeles cancer patient who won $3 billion in punitive damages against Philip Morris agreed to accept a reduced award of $100 million, still considered the largest judgment against a tobacco company for an individual smoker. Superior Court Judge Charles McCoy Jr. upheld a jury verdict of fraud, negligence, and selling a defective product against Philip Morris, but ruled the award to Richard Boeken was excessive. Philip Morris plans to appeal.

Compiled from wire service reports by Robert Kilborn, Stephanie Cook, and Matthew

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