News In Brief

President Clinton was to rejoin Israeli and Palestinian negotiators at Camp David, Md., as Mideast peace talks entered what could be a decisive phase. As he departed from Okinawa, where he attended the Group of Eight annual summit, Clinton said there had been some progress while he was away. But Israeli officials said chances for a deal were diminishing, with the status of Jerusalem remaining the most formidable obstacle to an agreement.

Many nursing homes are so understaffed they may be endangering the welfare of patients, a new report by the Department of Health and Human Services said. The report, to be presented to Congress, recommends new federal standards to guarantee that patients receive a minimum of two hours of daily care from nurses' aides, among other things. Fifty-four percent of nursing homes fall below the proposed minimum standard, it said. But industry officials said inadequate subsidies under Medicare and Medicaid make it difficult to hire more workers.

George W. Bush is seriously considering former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney as his running mate, two highly placed GOP officials said. Aides indicated that Bush could decide early this week. Cheney is also a former House member, White House chief of staff, and head of Bush's vice presidential search team.

Clinton said he plans to veto a Republican bill to cut taxes for 25 million married couples who pay more than if they filed separately. He denounced the bill as "one part of a costly, poorly targeted ... tax plan," saying he supports marriage penalty relief but that the GOP version would risk "fiscal discipline." Republicans, however, argue there is sufficient money in the surplus for their tax-relief agenda.

Federal officials charged at least 17 people in Charlotte, N.C., with smuggling cigarettes to raise money for the Hizbullah Islamic militant movement in Lebanon. The ring allegedly made its purchases in North Carolina, which has low cigarette taxes, and unloaded them in Michigan, where prices are higher. The profits were used to smuggle money to Hizbullah since 1996. An FBI informant said one suspect had transported more than $1 million to Lebanon. The group is not thought to have participated in terrorism.

The blame for the Waco, Texas, fire that killed 80 people rests solely with Branch Davidian leader David Koresh, former GOP senator John Danforth concluded in a preliminary report of his independent investigation. Danforth said US agents did not shoot at cult members and that pyrotechnic devices were fired four hours before the 1993 fire broke out. But he said investigators are still looking into why the FBI failed initially to disclose that agents had fired pyrotechnic tear gas canisters.

Firefighters in Mesa Verde National Park, Colo., struggled to contain an 8,000-acre blaze that burned into the nearby Ute Mountain reservation and threatened a campground. Mesa Verde remained closed indefinitely after about 1,000 tourists were evacuated.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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