News In Brief

Some Cuban-American lawmakers and organizations, including the exile group Mothers Against Repression, began lobbying for the Cuban survivors of a plane crash in the Gulf of Mexico to be granted US residency. Eight of the survivors, who initially were rescued by a Panamanian-flagged ship, were taken by the Coast Guard to a Key West, Fla., hospital. A spokeswoman for the Immigration and Naturalization Service said they would be interviewed to determine whether they had sufficient reason not to be returned to Cuba. A ninth survivor, who had been airlifted earlier to the hospital, already has been deemed eligible to stay in the US, the INS said.

One of the nation's largest immigration law firms was implicated in what's believed to be the first racketeering case of its kind. Federal prosecutors accused the New York offices of Robert Porges of earning more than $13 million illicitly over the last seven years by working with smugglers who bring illegal Chinese immigrants to the US and keep them as virtual indentured servants. The New York Times reported that a 44-count indictment was filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan.

An illegal teachers strike in Buffalo that has canceled school several times this month could come to an end today as the district's 3,700 teachers vote on a five-year contract proposed by a state mediator. The measure, which includes incremental pay raises and funding for extracurricular classes, already has won approval from the city's Board of Education and teachers union.

Talks were to resume today to end a transit strike in Los Angeles, but little progress had been reported so far. The walkout by bus drivers and rail operators with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has left 450,000 commuters in the lurch, forcing many to hitch rides with cars and vans that pull up to bus stops and offer rides for a nominal fee - an illegal practice.

The Senate voted down, 69 to 28, a usually routine spending bill that Republican leaders had hoped to push through to resolve budget negotiations with President Clinton. Democrats said he would have vetoed the measure for underfunding the Internal Revenue Service and counter-terrorism programs, but others cited concerns that a 2.7 percent pay increase for members of Congress would upset voters this fall. The legislation is one of 11 spending bills for fiscal 2001 yet to be approved.

Federal agents are not responsible, a US district court ruled, for the deaths of 80 Branch Davidians during the FBI siege of their Waco, Texas, compound April 19, 1993. Judge Walter Smith's decision parallels the finding that an advisory jury and special counsel John Danforth reached in July.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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