In Washington Chinese news agency to purchase building...

NATIONAL DIGEST

June 23, 2000

In Washington

Chinese news agency to purchase building near the Pentagon

The Chinese news agency Xinhua has created a flurry of news itself with the revelation it is buying a building near the Pentagon.

After the planned purchase became known, the State Department said yesterday it has reminded the Chinese Embassy that a 15-year-old law requires it to apply for permission whenever the government-affiliated news agency wants to buy or sell real estate.

Xinhua has said it plans to use the seven-story building in Arlington, Va., - less than a mile from the Pentagon - for a new newsroom and for housing. The building provides a distant view of some of the Pentagon outer wall. The Pentagon said it would evaluate whether the purchase would pose a security problem.

Ex-campaign chairman for Gore has brain cyst

Tony Coelho, former campaign chairman for Democratic presidential contender Al Gore, has a brain cyst, which doesn't appear to be life-threatening, Gore aides said yesterday.

The aides, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the campaign would have no further comment on his condition, and said Coelho relayed through them that he didn't want to talk about it further.

Coelho, who recently turned 58, resigned abruptly from the Gore campaign about a week ago, noting health problems, and was replaced as Gore campaign chairman by Commerce Secretary William M. Daley.

Auditors sees ways to save millions on military health

Effectively combating fraud, improving purchases of prescription drugs and other steps could save millions of dollars for the government's health care program for the military, a congressional auditor told lawmakers yesterday.

"Opportunities exist to save potentially hundreds of millions of dollars that could be used to purchase care for military beneficiaries," Stephen Backhus, director of veterans' affairs and military health care issues for the General Accounting Office, told a House Budget Committee task force.

The Defense Department's managed health care plan, known as TRICARE, provides health care to active-duty personnel, dependents and military retirees. The program spends about $225 million a year just processing claims, a cost that has drawn criticism from many in Congress.

In the Nation

Airliner diverted to Ohio after scorpion stings man

DETROIT - An airliner was diverted to Cleveland after a passenger was stung by a scorpion. The 40-year-old man was taken to a hospital and released later in the day. Some scorpion stings can be lethal.

The Mesaba Airlines plane was on its way from Detroit to Allentown, Pa., on Wednesday and was about midway through its journey when a man felt a sting on his hand, Mesaba spokeswoman Shirley Doering said.

"Our guess is that it probably got into a passenger's carry-on luggage who was coming from the Southwest, Mexico or the Caribbean," Doering said yesterday. "To my knowledge, it's never happened at Mesaba, but it's not uncommon."

Couple allowed into jail shoot and kill 2 guards

MOBERLY, Mo. - A man and woman who were allowed into a county jail early yesterday opened fire and killed two guards, one a city councilman who had been pushing for a more secure facility, the other an officer on the job for two months.

Two unarmed suspects were caught eight hours later walking along a highway about 130 miles away in Wathena, Kan., just across the Missouri state line.

The shooters were trying to free an acquaintance, Roy Vance, from Randolph County Jail, Sheriff Don Ancell said. Killed were Leon Egley, 33, a city councilman in neighboring Huntsville and a jail supervisor, and Jason Acton, 36, a jail guard on the job for two months in this community about 110 miles east of Kansas City.

15 arrested on charges linked to gambling ring

MIAMI - Fifteen people were arrested on charges of running the Colombo crime family's gambling, extortion and money laundering operations in South Florida.

The South Florida "crew" of the New York Mafia family has pulled in as much as $2,000 a day in gambling and bookmaking since 1997, according to a federal racketeering indictment unsealed Wednesday.

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