News In Brief

Troubled by the recent disappearance of a laptop computer with highly sensitive information, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright removed two office directors involved in the security breach. She also said protection of information classified higher than top secret - a category she applied to the missing computer - was being transferred from the Bureau of Intelligence and Research to the Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Pending the consent of Congress, a new undersecretary of state for security will be created, Albright added.

Grocery stores, restaurants, and other businesses closed in Miami's Little Havana district in protest against the federal government's armed raid that returned Elian Gonzalez to his father. But the work stoppage, called by Cuban exile groups, didn't appear to affect essential services such as police and fire protection. Meanwhile, Attorney General Janet Reno, who ordered the seizure, prepared to meet on Capitol Hill with 11 US senators selected by majority leader Trent Lott (R) of Mississippi. Preliminary inquiries into the predawn raid have started in both the House and Senate.

Striking Los Angeles janitors in the Service Employees International Union approved a new contract by an 88 percent margin. For downtown workers, the terms include a 70-cent-an-hour increase in the first year of the pact, followed by 60-cent raises in each of the next two years. The custodians also will receive a one-time bonus of $500.

A two-week strike at Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas, also appeared to be on the road to resolution. The company reached a tentative agreement with union negotiators representing about 2,500 machinists. Members of the International Association of Machinists are expected to vote on the offer today. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Federal authorities are nearing completion of a plan to remove dozens of protesters on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, by force if necessary, government officials said. Demonstrators won't resist arrest, said an official for the Puerto Rican Independence Party, which has maintained a protest camp. The presence of demonstrators has stood in the way of fully implementing a Jan. 31 agreement for the Navy to resume limited training exercises on Vieques in exchange for a referendum on closing the range eventually. The Navy suspended training after a bombing accident killed a civilian security guard a year ago.

Consumer confidence slipped this month for the third consecutive time as the stock market fluctuated, the New York-based Conference Board reported. Its consumer confidence index dropped to 136.9 from a revised 137.1 last month. But the New York-based organization also cited surveys showing that Americans think job opportunities and business growth will be good in the coming months.

Police in Washington were hunting for a suspected lone gunman in a shooting at the National Zoo that wounded seven children, one gravely. Investigators believe the shooter was involved in gang activity, police said. At the time, the zoo was crowded with people for an annual post-Easter event.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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