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Archive for Tuesday, December 12, 2000

Nation briefs

December 12, 2000

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Washington, D.C.

Budget deal framework set

President Clinton and congressional leaders ended months of bitter stalemate Monday and agreed to the outlines of a budget agreement, boosting the chance that the lame-duck 106th Congress could adjourn by week's end.

The compromise included $108.9 billion for many education, labor and health programs, said Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee. That would be nearly $13 billion more than was spent last year, a victory for Clinton, but roughly $4 billion less than last month's tentative agreement. GOP leaders had demanded the cut.

Los Angeles

Actor charged in drug case

Robert Downey Jr. was charged Monday with two felony drug counts and a misdemeanor stemming from his Thanksgiving weekend arrest at a Palm Springs resort.

The actor, who was arrested only four months after being released from prison in connection with another drug case, faces a maximum of six years in state prison on the felonies and a year in county jail on the misdemeanor if convicted.

Downey, 35, will plead innocent to the charges, said publicist Alan Nierob. The arraignment is set for Dec. 27.

The Fox network said Monday it expects him to complete work on his "Ally McBeal" commitment before his court date.

Washington, D.C.

Jeb Bush visits White House

While the nation's focus was on one Gov. Bush and whether he would move into the White House, another Gov. Bush slipped Monday into the Oval Office to witness the signing by President Clinton of legislation intended to restore the Everglades.

Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida had played an important role in the bipartisan coalition that supported the plan, a favorite of both Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, and was invited to the ceremony.

But, a senior White House official said "we were a little bit surprised" that he decided to attend.

As is occasionally the custom at the White House, the ceremony was conducted in private. No reporters or news photographers were allowed.

The restoration plan is expected to take 35 years to complete at a cost of $7.8 billion.

Illinois

Bidi cigarettes banned

Come Jan. 1, the sale of bidis (pronounced BEE-deez) in Illinois will be banned, with violators fined $100 to $1,000.

Under the sweeping new law, no one will even be allowed to give away the product that became a 1990s' teen fad after being known for centuries in India as "the poor man's cigarette."

The potent, imported cigarettes come in almond, cinnamon, clove, root beer, strawberry and vanilla flavors.

Illinois' move comes just months after the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called the use of tobacco products such as bidis an "emerging public health problem" among U.S. youths.

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