News In Brief

The Cuban father of Elian Gonzalez was to meet with two psychiatrists and a psychologist appointed by the US government to discuss how the boy could be transferred least disruptively to his custody, the father's lawyer said. Attorney General Janet Reno has said Elian's Miami relatives must surrender the boy to Juan Miguel Gonzalez this week. The Justice Department also asked the relatives to meet separately with the doctors today. Meanwhile, Miami's Cuban exile community seemed divided between resignation to Elian's handover and mobilization for further demonstrations.

The CIA fired one staffer and disciplined six others for mistakes that led to the bombing of China's Embassy in Belgrade during the Kosovo war last year. Beijing had rejected US assurances that the attack, which killed three Chinese, had been a mistake. Reviews also concluded intelligence officers meant to target a Yugoslav arms agency but marked the wrong building on a map, The Washington Post reported.

A Florida jury ordered the tobacco industry to pay two smokers $6.9 million in a landmark case against Big Tobacco. A third smoker was awarded $5.8 million, but the jury decided he couldn't collect because a four-year statute of limitations had run out. The three smokers represent an estimated 500,000 sick Floridians in the first class-action suit against the cigarette industry to reach trial. The jury's decision sets the stage for a possible multibillion-dollar punitive-damages verdict that cigarette makers worry could bankrupt them. That verdict may come in a few weeks.

In hopes of pushing forward Mideast peace negotiations, the White House announced President Clinton and Secretary of State Albright would meet Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak in Washington tomorrow. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat would follow April 20. The two sides have pledged to arrive at a final agreement by September.

The Senate approved a Republican-written $1.83 trillion budget, putting the GOP on track to move a final House-Senate compromise through Congress this week. The package had called for a five-year tax cut of at least $150 billion, but the Senate voted to strip $2.7 billion out of the reduction and increase spending for Pell college grants. The 2001 budget also would use surpluses to pay down $1 trillion of the $3.6 trillion publicly held debt over five years. Domestic programs would get $290 billion, about $30 billion less than the president wants.

A Marine Corps aircraft crashed during a training exercise at an airport west of Tucson, Ariz., killing all 19 marines aboard. The MV-22 Osprey went down Saturday night with four crew members and 15 passengers aboard after leaving an air station in Yuma. The plane and a second one were simulating a civilian evacuation.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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