News In Brief

There was hope that President Clinton might broker a new Northern Ireland compromise on St. Patrick's Day. He was to meet with two politicians central to making last year's Good Friday accord work - Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble and Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams. Britain has set a new, symbolically potent deadline of April 2, this year's Good Friday, for a new Protestant-Catholic coalition government in Northern Ireland. Its 10 Cabinet posts were supposed to have been filled in October.

John Kasich, chairman of the House budget panel, unveiled a $1.735 trillion spending plan for fiscal year 2000, along with a proposal to cut taxes by $800 billion over 10 years. Senate Republicans proposed a tax cut of about the same size Tuesday, drawing fire from Democrats who want to preserve more of the decade's projected budget surpluses for Medicare. In the Kasich plan, tax cuts would total about $15 billion in fiscal year 2000, which begins Oct. 1.

The bipartisan commission on Medicare dissolved in dissent. Sen. John Breaux (D) of Louisiana, chairman of the panel, won support for some core proposals from 10 of the 17 members of the group, but fell short of the 11 votes needed to issue recommendations. Breaux and Rep. Bill Thomas (R) of California said they would pursue their proposal to put more emphasis on private-sector HMOs and other managed-care services. Clinton commended the panel, but asked his advisers to shape a different approach that includes coverage for prescription drugs.

The House voted 380 to 24 for a nonbinding resolution opposing the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state. It also urged the White House to take a tougher stand on the statehood issue. Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat has threatened to proclaim a state May 4, the deadline set in the 1993 Oslo peace accord with Israel for a permanent settlement. The Senate passed a similar resolution last week, 98 to 1.

A federal judge denied the National Collegiate Athletic Association's request to delay enforcement of a court order that would end the use of standardized test scores to establish eligibility of freshmen athletes. District Judge Ronald Buckwalter issued an initial ruling last week in Philadelphia. The NCAA had asked the court for more time to work on new guidelines - and on appeals.

Intel Corp. promised as part of its antitrust settlement to share with other firms important technical details about its computer chips in all except rare circumstances, the Federal Trade Commission said. But, Intel - whose products run about 85 percent of the world's personal computers - was not required to acknowledge holding monopoly power over the microprocessor market. The accord was announced last week, but it was unclear then what concessions the government had won.

Medical use of marijuana deserves to be tested in scientific trials - and there is no conclusive evidence that marijuana use leads to harder drugs, the Institute of Medicine reported.

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