News In Brief

President Clinton is preparing to announce, possibly Monday, an increase of $1 trillion in the administration's budget surplus projections, congressional Democrats and lobbyists said. The new forecast is expected to bring projected surpluses for the decade ending in 2010 to $1.9 trillion, excluding Social Security. The sources added Clinton will propose using the windfall for faster debt reduction, enhanced Medicare benefits, and deeper tax cuts.

Following last week's summit between leaders of the two Koreas, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was in Asia to try to further a lowering of tensions in the region. But top aides stressed the Clinton administration wouldn't relent in its exploration of a shield against North Korean missile attack. In Beijing, Albright was expected to urge Chinese leaders to reopen talks with Taiwan and to curb exports of weapons technology. On its end, China called for the US to abandon plans for a national missile defense.

An amendment to a spending bill passed by the House took aim at a Clinton gun-safety initiative. By 218 to 207, the lawmakers voted to prevent the Department of Housing and Urban Development from spending money to aid the Communities for Safer Guns Coalition. The compact is made up of localities that, when buying guns for police, pledge to give preference to manufacturers who use safety devices and implement restrictive sales practices. The administration has threatened a veto, citing concerns with several provisions in the bill. The Senate has yet to vote on it.

One of the other approved measures in the spending bill blocked enforcement of new air-quality standards. The provision, which passed 226 to 199, would erase a long list of cities and counties that stand to lose funds because they didn't measure up. The legislation comes in the wake of the Supreme Court decision to hear arguments on whether the Environmental Protection Agency must consider the cost of compliance when it imposes standards.

The only US company that provides fuel for nuclear power plants announced it will shut down production next year at one of the nation's two uranium enrichment plants. The board of directors for USEC Inc. ignored a request by the government to delay a decision and voted to cut work at the Piketon, Ohio, plant. The move may lay off at least 1,400 people.

NASA astronomers said they've found convincing evidence that water has flowed on Mars relatively recently, a finding that makes it much more likely that life could exist on the planet. Photographs from the orbiting Mars Global Surveyor show gullies and landslides that look as though they could have been formed only by

Each child at Buell Elementary School in Michigan is receiving a new bicycle, in hopes of helping them get over a fatal shooting there earlier this year. The $30,000 needed to pay for the bikes was donated by area residents, United Auto Workers members, and General Motors.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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