News In Brief

A new Los Angeles Times poll shows Texas Gov. George W. Bush has made significant inroads with traditionally Democratic voters and has a considerable lead over Vice President Al Gore. The survey of registered voters - still early in the campaign - gave Bush an overall advantage of 51 percent to 43 percent. More striking, analysts said, is Bush's lead among women, who voted overwhelmingly for President Clinton in 1992 and 1996.

Backed by the voices of an authoritative cast that included past presidents and secretaries of state, Clinton made a formal case for permanent normal trade relations with China. Ex-presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford joined Clinton in urging passage of the measure, scheduled for a vote later this month. On Capitol Hill meanwhile, Reps. Doug Bereuter (R) of Nebraska and Sander Levin (D) of Michigan announced a bipartisan proposal to alleviate opponents' concerns about human rights abuses in China.

Clinton and Democratic congressional leaders were to present formally a proposed prescription-drug benefit under Medicare. People who qualify and want to enroll in the program, which was unveiled last winter, reportedly would pay a premium of about $24 a month. The drug benefit already has become a key election-year issue, with Republicans outlining their own proposal last month. It would free private health insurers to sell policies that provide benefits only for drug costs.

Edwin Edwards, who dominated Louisiana politics during his four terms as governor, was convicted of extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from businessmen applying for riverboat casino licenses. Edwards was found guilty on 17 counts, including two racketeering charges that each carry 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Four co-defendants in the case, among them his son Stephen, were also convicted; two others were acquitted.

With Sunday's Million Mom March expected to heighten the debate over gun control, the National Rifle Association (NRA) launched an advertising campaign intended to raise money for increased gun-safety education. Countering the mothers' push for new laws, the NRA's promotion aims to raise $1 million to bring its Eddie Eagle gun-safety program into every American school. Critics, however, compared Eddie Eagle to the Joe Camel character for cigarettes, charging that the mascot promotes gun-industry views.

Following a wave of violence against taxi and livery drivers in New York and other big cities, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration issued new safety guidelines. The recommendations include installing in-car surveillance cameras; utilizing global positioning systems to locate drivers in distress; and using credit or debit cards - a "cashless" fare system - to discourage robberies.

Crews fought to contain two brush fires in New Mexico. Projected high winds threatened to spread a 3,700-acre blaze near the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory, but milder conditions were expected near a 5,700-acre fire in Ruidoso. Precautionary measures forced hundreds from their homes, although no injuries were reported.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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