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News Briefs, part 2

Israel Seeks to Delay Next Phase Of Palestinian Accord

The Baltimore Sun

Israel wants to delay implementing the second - and most sweeping - stage of the agreement it signed one year ago, according to Israeli and Palestinian reports.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin has told senior officials he wants to postpone Palestinian elections and the required withdrawal of Israeli troops from Arab populated areas in the West Bank, Israeli newspapers reported Thursday.

That step was supposed to be taken last July and is tentatively rescheduled for November. Rabin said he wanted it delayed "as long as possible," according to the respected newspaper Ha'aretz, quoting a senior political source. The Jerusalem Post said he wanted elections postponed "indefinitely."

Israeli officials have blamed the Palestinians, saying they are unprepared to hold the elections or take over the West Bank. Israel has said it must approve all the preparations.

Study Finds No Easy Fixes For Social Security

The Washington Post

Any effort to head off a crisis in funding the Social Security system by improving the investment returns of its trust fund or by investing to improve overall economic growth would fail to solve the problem, the Congressional Budget Office has concluded.

The CBO also discounted a suggestion for easing the cash squeeze on the system by allowing individuals to invest for themselves some of the payroll tax they now pay the government. That option would penalize low-income people, the CBO said.

The agency has been studying possible changes in Social Security funding proposed by a variety of sources and will detail its findings at a House Social Security subcommittee hearing Oct. 4. The common thread running through these proposals is that by better handling the huge trust fund the system possesses, the government could avoid the need for huge tax increases or benefit cuts in the next century.

No such luck, the CBO said.

"No easy fixes to the funding problems of the Social Security system exist," the office concluded in a draft report that is being circulated on Capitol Hill.

Investing to stimulate economic growth wouldn't work, the study said. While growth is desirable and is "the only way to expand the resources available to future retirees more rapid growth does not make funding easier for retirement programs such as Social Security," it said. This is because when wages rise, benefits rise too.

Illegal Immigrants Cost U.S. $29 Billion, Report Says

Los Angeles Times

Legal and illegal immigration is more costly for large states than recently estimated by the Clinton administration, according to a new study.

A report by the respected Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington-based think tank, said Thursday that immigrants in 1992 produced a net national deficit of $29.1 billion, borne mainly by California and six other states. The center compared the cost of social services and education against taxes and fees paid by immigrants to come up with the deficit.

This estimate contrasts with a finding by the Urban Institute, in an administration-commissioned study, that immigrants had brought the United States a net benefit of $28.7 billion. However, the institute acknowledged that it costs California $1.28 billion annually to pay for the education of illegal immigrant children.

Statistics compiled by the White House-commissioned Urban Institute study showed California and six other states - Florida, Texas, New York, Illinois, Arizona and New Jersey - spending more dollars on federally mandated programs than were collected in taxes from the overwhelmingly young and poor population of illegal immigrants, which the study estimated at 3.4 million nationwide as of October 1992

Burning of Three-Year-Old Stuns Town

The Washington Post

Kenny Dillhoff knew some of the kids playing behind the house were fooling around with cheap lighters, and he'd noticed the gasoline can. Then he heard the shouting, turned and saw a ball of flames where his 3-year-old brother, Tony, had been moments before.

"He was screaming, and he was saying, Fire!' " Kenny, 13, said today. "And everybody was screaming, Fire!' "

Preliminary police reports indicate that two boys, ages 9 and 11, deliberately poured gasoline on and around Tony and then ignited it with their plastic lighters. They ran off as Kenny jumped on his brother, rolling him over and over in the worn gravel alley and probably saving his life.

Investigators and prosecutors spent hours Wednesday discussing whether to bring criminal charges. Tony's family doesn't understand the uncertainty. The accused youngsters, the family said, have roamed the neighborhood boasting about their handiwork.

Authorities have offered no motive for what happened Monday evening, and as Tony lies swathed and still in a hospital burn unit, people in this small industrial city 20 miles south of Richmond are struggling with the horrifying possibility that it was indeed no accident.

The child received second- and third-degree burns on his legs, back, neck and an arm. His eyebrows and eyelashes were singed, and relatives were told that his face was saved from disfiguring injury solely because his crew-cut hair was so short that it didn't catch fire.