News In Brief

President Clinton announced a projected budget surplus of $115 billion for fiscal 1999, which ends Thursday. Analysts said the growing surplus - estimated at $99 billion this summer - was likely to raise the stakes and the intensity of partisan negotiations over the budget for fiscal 2000.

Senate Republicans took a step toward funding levels requested by the president for education and other social programs. An appropriations subcommittee approved a $320 billion measure that would spend $500 million more on education than he asked for while cutting his proposals for new teachers, adult education, and other programs.

The House approved $21 billion in funding for energy and water projects. Quick Senate approval also was predicted - which would bring to five the number of spending measures sent to the president. Thirteen are needed to finance the federal government in fiscal 2000. Meanwhile, House-Senate negotiators agreed to a compromise $12.6 billion foreign-aid bill. Although they jettisoned language that would have forbidden aid to groups that promote liberalized abortion laws overseas, the measure still may not get Clinton's signature because it falls $2 billion short of his request.

Gov. Gray Davis (D) signed into law a number of patient protections, giving Californians the right to sue most HMOs and obtain second medical opinions. The package of 20 bills also requires managed-care firms to expand their treatment of mental illnesses and pay for contraceptives. The legislation is designed to provide a way around a 25-year-old federal statute prohibiting lawsuits against HMOs in many circumstances.

US officials gave no sign of making headway on China's bid to join the World Trade Organization after the first day of fresh negotiations in Washington. Business and farm groups are eager for an accord that would remove barriers to China's market. Analysts said the absence of Long Yongtu, Chinese vice minister for foreign trade, raised questions about Beijing's commitment to the talks.

Media firms must have permission of freelancers before reproducing their work in electronic data bases, a federal appeals court said. The unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel in New York overturned a lower-court finding. The ruling did not specifically address reproduction of material on Web sites, but legal specialists said it would probably also apply to the sites. Companies named in the suit included The New York Times, Newsday, and Time Inc.

Clinton granted Liberians in the US a year's reprieve from deportation, one day before they were to lose their temporary status as protected residents.

Thursday's edition of CNN's "Larry King Live" is scheduled to include an interview with Virginia S. Harris, chairman of the board of directors of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, which publishes this newspaper. The program is broadcast at 9 p.m. and at midnight, Eastern time.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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