Federal subsidies raise farm incomes
An outpouring of government subsidies will push net U.S. farm income to $46.1 billion this year, a 6 percent increase from last year, the Agriculture Department says.
Congress has approved three multibillion-dollar bailouts of the farm economy in as many years, and government farm payments are likely to reach $22.7 billion this year, $2.1 billion above 1999, according to a report by USDA's Economic Research Service.
Cash receipts also will be up this year from crops and livestock, but production expenses also are higher, largely because of increased fuel prices.
Land values, meanwhile, are expected to rise 2 percent this year, while farm debt is down slightly from last year, the report said.
Elian's defense fund goes to charity
The remaining money in a fund used in the failed attempt to keep Elian Gonzalez in the United States will be turned over to a cancer charity, trustees said.
The Elian Gonzalez Defense Fund collected $210,000 to fight the Immigration and Naturalization Service's order that the 6-year-old shipwreck survivor be returned to his father in Cuba. After seven months of legal wrangling, the courts sided with the INS, and Elian's father took him home June 28.
Once the fund finishes paying off legal expenses next month, the remainder, likely between $50,000 and $60,000, will be donated to the Miami-based League Against Cancer, fund trustee Dulce Cuetera said. The charity helps about 5,000 indigent cancer patients annually, many of them children.
The lawyers who argued for Elian's Miami relatives to keep the boy in the United States donated their time, but the fund is reimbursing them for expenses and paying court costs.
Sea Launch puts satellite into orbit
A Russian-Ukrainian rocket blasted off from a floating platform in the Pacific in the Sea Launch venture's first mission since a $100 million satellite was destroyed.
The Zenit-3SL rocket took off on schedule Friday from a converted oil rig 1,400 miles southeast of Hawaii.
"The big news here is that Sea Launch is back," said Will Trafton, president of the international venture that includes partners from Russia, Ukraine and the United States.
Mission controllers cheered at the company's home port in Long Beach and on a command ship 3les from the floating launch platform.
The international consortium's last launch ended minutes after liftoff March 12 when a second-stage valve failed to close. The ICO Global Communications satellite was destroyed.