News In Brief

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee unveiled his gun-control proposals, but a planned meeting of his panel to debate them was canceled. House majority leader Dick Armey announced the cancelation, saying the full House would take up the measure next week. Democrats said Republicans didn't want committee debate to mobilize support for gun control before a House vote. They praised parts of panel chairman Henry Hyde's bill, but criticized it for not requiring background checks at gun shows if there are fewer than 10 exhibitors selling weapons.

Public support for gun control remains solid, according to a poll conducted last month for the GOP House campaign committee. In the survey, roughly 80 percent of respondents favored expanded background checks for handgun purchases, safety locks for guns, mandatory prison terms for felons who commit crimes with guns, and increasing to 21 the minimum age for buying handguns.

A Senate Republican threatened to hold up confirmation of Lawrence Summers as Treasury Secretary to protest President Clinton's appointment of James Hormel as US envoy to Luxembourg. Hormel was appointed last week during a congressional recess after the GOP-controlled Senate balked at confirming him because he would be the nation's first openly gay ambassador. Under Senate rules, a nomination can be held up by just one senator.

Apache helicopters are part of the US peacekeeping force poised to enter Kosovo, the Pentagon said. Eight heavily armed Apaches would be in the vanguard of forces entering Kosovo on the heels of departing Serb troops, spokesman Kenneth Bacon told reporters. Two-dozen Apaches have been stationed near the Kosovo-Albanian border for weeks, but have not been sent into combat.

Major airlines cut ticket prices by as much as 25 percent for off-peak summer travel. United Airlines set off the fare war a day after warning of weak quarterly profits. Delta, Continental, and Northwest were among the first to match the United promotion on domestic and international travel.

A second white policeman was convicted in the brutalizing of a Haitian immigrant in a New York station-house bathroom. Three other officers were acquitted. The split verdict came two weeks after Officer Justin Volpe, the central figure in the trial, pleaded guilty to torturing Abner Louima.

Amnesty International released a report condemning the use of stun belts to subdue US prisoners. The US Marshals Service, federal Bureau of Prisons, and at least 20 state prison systems have authorized the use of stun belts, Amnesty officials said. Triggered by remote control, the battery-powered belts temporarily incapacitate inmates with a painful, eight-second electric jolt. The belts are typically placed on prisoners appearing in court or being transported.

Commercial fishermen hurt by declining stocks in the Gulf of Maine will be given $5 million in disaster aid, Commerce Secretary William Daley said. Eligible boat captains are to be allotted $1,500 for each day they were unable to fish from February through June 1999. Owners and crews will be asked to participate in a day of research for each of the days for which they receive compensation.

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