News In Brief

The Supreme Court shielded states against lawsuits by employees who cite federal law to claim they are the victims of age bias. In upholding earlier lower-court rulings in Florida and Alabama cases, the justices said Congress had exceeded its authority in allowing such suits under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. In another case involving federal-state issues, the high court also was scheduled to hear arguments about rape victims suing their attackers in federal court. The justices are expected to issue a ruling on the matter by July.

A Florida court granted temporary custody of Elian Gonzalez to his US relatives and ordered a March 6 custody hearing. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Rosa Rodriguez also ordered Elian's father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, to attend the hearing, although the Cuba resident has said he wouldn't travel to the US to retrieve his son. The Immigration and Naturalization Service, meanwhile, said it wouldn't try to send Elian back to Cuba, an apparent reversal of its ruling last week that custody belongs to the father and that the boy should return to the communist island by Friday. In other developments, Sen. Jesse Helms (R) of North Carolina was leading congressional efforts to confer US citizenship on Elian.

The White House was to announce a $2.7 billion initiative to provide health coverage to uninsured children. More than one-third of the 11 million uninsured children in the US are eligible for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program, which helps families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford coverage. President Clinton's plan would make it easier for children in federal school-lunch programs to enroll in health plans and would allow child-care centers, homeless shelters, and welfare offices to enroll children immediately.

The newly announced mega-merger between America Online and Time Warner will be subjected to intense scrutiny by the Senate Judiciary Committee, chairman Orrin Hatch (R) of Utah vowed. Senators said they were especially concerned about the deal's effect on Internet access by competitors.

The White House prepared to propose a two-year aid package for Colombia of more than $1 billion to combat drug trafficking and revive its sagging economy. Colombia is the third-largest recipient of US foreign aid, behind Egypt and Israel.

The administration said it made a deal with India that calls for the New Delhi government to eliminate trade barriers to US farm goods, textiles, and other products. Relations were strained in 1998 when the US imposed sanctions against India and its archrival, Pakistan, for conducting nuclear weapons tests. Clinton later eased the sanctions, but tensions flared again last month during the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle. India is the US's 33rd-largest export market.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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