News In Brief

A faction of delegates opposed to Pat Buchanan threatened to hold a separate gathering, as the divided Reform Party began its official convention in Long Beach, Calif. Supporters of rival candidate John Hagelin said they will conduct their own nomination nearby if their delegates are turned away by Buchanan's supporters. They also prepared to ask federal officials to deny Buchanan the $12.5 million in federal money given to the party's nominee.

More than 6 million acres of land in Montana have been closed to the public in an effort to stem the spread of wildfire in the state's Bitterroot Valley, where more than 970 people have been evacuated. Gov. Marc Racicot (R) said the closure would reduce the chance of more blazes starting and people being trapped. Twenty thousand firefighters are battling 70 large fires throughout the West.

A classified US intelligence report, disclosed by US officials, predicts that China will increase its stockpile of nuclear weapons if the US deploys a national missile defense system. The US has said the system is intended to protect against long-range missile threats from states such as North Korea and Iraq. But China and Russia, analysts said, have argued the new system would undermine the deterrent value of their nuclear weapons.

Sixty percent of parents whose children lack healthcare insurance do not know their children could receive coverage, leaving about 7 million eligible young people uninsured, a study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a philanthropic group, reported. The government created the Children's Health Insurance Program in 1997 to help children of families that do not qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford private health insurance.

President Clinton signed a $288 billion appropriation bill raising military pay by 3.7 percent and increasing the Pentagon's budget for next year by $20 billion. The measure, which passed the Senate last month in a 90-to-10 vote, also will raise military health insurance by 9 percent. Clinton has come under fire from Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush for not sufficiently funding the military.

The lawyer who bought an island from a Mexican-American family but didn't share the land's oil profits won't have to pay them punitive damages. A jury found last week that Gilbert Kerlin had cheated the Bali family out of their share of oil profits and must pay $1.1 million in compensation. But the family's request that Kerlin pay $25 million in punitive damages out of his $68 million fortune was denied. Analysts said the case could set a precedent for similar Spanish land grant cases.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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