News In Brief

Nearly an entire boatload of would-be immigrants are being returned to Haiti by the US Coast Guard, reversing the perilous 600-mile voyage that brought them to within about a mile of Miami. The Coast Guard convinced them to abandon ship after their boat ran aground. Included among the mostly Haitian passengers were 16 Dominicans and two Chinese. Four women were brought ashore for medical reasons but eventually will be returned, according to an Immigration and Naturalization Service spokes-man. The decision met with protests from Haitian activists in Miami who believe US laws are more accommodating of Cuban than Haitian migrants.

Meanwhile, 18 suspected illegal Chinese immigrants were detained in Long Beach, Calif., after being found inside a cargo container. In two similar cases, 30 others were detained in the Los Angeles area Dec. 29.

President Clinton was scheduled to preside over the second round of Israeli-Syrian talks Monday at a conference center in Sheperdstown, W.Va., 70 miles northwest of Washington. Talks between the longtime adversaries were revived in Washington last month after breaking off in 1996. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will be present throughout the negotiations, which bring together Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa.

Elizabeth Dole, who dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination in October, is expected to endorse Texas Gov. George W. Bush in New Hampshire today. New Hampshire is the site of the nation's first primary on Feb. 1. Speculation that Dole might be named Bush's running mate is "woefully premature," according to a Bush-campaign spokesman.

The State Department called the leaflet-dropping flight of a Vietnamese-American over Cuba "provocative and reckless." Ly Tong, a self-proclaimed freedom-fighter, used a rented plane to disseminate anticommunist pamphlets Saturday before Cuban fighter jets escorted him out of Cuban airspace. US Customs officials questioned and released Tong. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the case.

The White House said it would support smart-gun technology, announcing an item planned for the proposed budget for the next fiscal year. It will include $10 million in funding for technologies designed to prevent weapons from being fired by anyone but their owners. Several gun manufacturers are currently researching ways of using fingerprints, radio waves, and other means of restricting gun use.

Jorge Masetti, a former Cuban intelligence agent, was scheduled to testify in a public hearing into near Miami that the Cuban government financed a $7-million, 1983 robbery of a Wells Fargo armored truck in Hartford, Ct. The hearing is part of an effort to link Cuba to a Puerto Rican separatist group.

In his final daily "Peanuts" comic strip on Monday, cartoonist Charles Schulz, who is retiring, expressed his appreciation for the "wonderful love and support expressed to me by my fans." Schulz has entertained an estimated 355 million worldwide readers with his lovable characters. He closes his career with a Sunday strip Feb. 13.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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