News In Brief

With profits sagging and customers clamoring for jets, Boeing Co. cut a deal to settle a 38-day strike by its engineers and end one of the biggest white-collar walkouts in US history. The tentative three-year contract gives pay raises, bonuses, and extended health coverage to the 13,000-member Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace. The union was expected to approve the contract in a vote yesterday.

In an unprecedented agreement, Smith & Wesson said it will provide safety locks on handguns within 60 days and make them child-resistant in a year. In return, federal, state, and city lawsuits against the largest US gunmaker would be dropped. The Department of Housing and Urban Development and mayors of Atlanta, Detroit, and Miami encouraged their law-enforcement agencies to give preference to Smith & Wesson, saying it would apply to "any gunmakers that adopt a ... code of responsible conduct."

President Clinton moved to create an emergency heating-oil reserve for hard-hit Northeast states, but warned there is "no overnight solution" to the fast-rising gasoline and oil prices that have tripled in the past year. He urged Congress to pass tax credits to promote fuel-saving cars, to encourage use of alternative fuels, and to increase domestic-oil production. Clinton didn't say if he'll release oil from the emergency Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Leaders on both sides of Northern Ireland's sectarian divide assured Clinton they are determined to revive the peace process, but St. Patrick's Day meetings at the White House failed to break a five-week-old impasse. Northern Ireland Protestant leader David Trimble said the province's suspended government could be restored before disarmament by the Irish Republican Army begins, so long as firm assurances were in hand. But Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Fein, dismissed Trimble's comments as posturing.

Acknowledging past mistakes in US policy toward Iran, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright launched a major overture to Tehran that could open up trade, expedite settlement of frozen assets, and lead to a renewal of formal diplomatic relations after 20 years of hostility. As an initial step, Albright said the US will lift sanctions barring imports of Iranian carpets, caviar, pistachios, and dried fruit, Iran's biggest export items after petroleum. But the move stops short of removing a similar prohibition on oil and gas.

Some 125 New York hospitals plan to join a $2.3 billion lawsuit against cigarette companies that seeks repayment for treating smoking-related illness, Newsday reported. The suit, organized by Healthcare Association of New York State, relies on essentially the same argument 46 states used to win a settlement with the industry in 1998.

Facing surging fuel prices, major airlines boosted round-trip domestic ticket prices by about $40 for business travelers and $20 for leisure travelers. The newest round of fare increases, led by Northwest Airlines, comes atop a $20 round-trip fuel surcharge instituted earlier this year.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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