News In Brief

American girls are getting involved in sports at an accelerating rate, the National Sporting Goods Association said. Its report indicated that between 1990 and 1998 involvement among girls between the ages of 7 and 17 jumped 29 percent in baseball, 27 percent in soccer, and 17 percent in basketball. The survey was taken before the US women's soccer team won its World Cup championship Saturday.

A House Republican plan to cut taxes by $864 billion over 10 years was said to have little or no chance of becoming law after failing to gain support from GOP moderates. Bill Archer, House Ways and Means chairman and author of the proposal, said it would cut current income-tax rates by 10 percent. A GOP tax plan in the Senate would reduce income-tax rates by about 7 percent, but does not include reductions in capital-gains and estate taxes that are in the House package.

Sen. Bob Smith is leaving the Republican Party and taking his presidential campaign to the US Taxpayers Party, said sources close to the New Hampshire conservative. Howard Phillips, who founded the Taxpayers Party in 1989, said he has encouraged Smith to join his party. Republicans said Smith has little support outside New Hampshire and poses no threat. But they expressed concern that a daunting early lead by GOP front-runner George W. Bush could trigger a third-party run by other, more formidable GOP conservatives.

A Cuban woman drowned and 11 other people were rescued in a suspected immigrant-smuggling incident 10 miles northeast of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the Coast Guard said. The Cubans threw life jackets back at the Coast Guard, cut a line used in an attempt to foul their boat's propeller, and waved a machete at Coast Guard members before their boat darted in front of the latters' cutter, causing a collision, a spokesman for the service said.

Cuban refugees are landing in south Florida at a rate three times higher than a year earlier, US officials said. The Border Patrol said 16 arrived Friday, bringing to more than 1,700 the number landing since October 1998. Officials picked up 615 Cubans in South Florida during the 12-month period ending Sept. 30, 1998. Cuban exiles in Florida say the numbers may foreshadow another mass exodus of refugees from the island.

The US released 39 long-term detainees, mostly Cubans, from facilities in Florida. Last month the Immigration and Naturalization Service identified 439 long-term detainees in Florida, saying it expected to interview 246 of them by the end of June to see if they can be safely released. Many have been held for years because they've committed felonies. But they can't be sent home because the US has no diplomatic relations with their native countries.

San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit Authority won a $39.7 million grant from the US Transportation Department to extend rail service to San Francisco International Airport.

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