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News Briefs

Illinois Gunman Bought Weapons from Street Vendor

The Los angeles. Times -- chicago

Benjamin Nathaniel Smith bought the guns he used in his racist shooting spree from an illegal street dealer after he was turned away by a gun shop that did the required background check, investigators said Tuesday.

The background check showed that an ex-girlfriend of Smith’s had taken out a protective order against him because of abuse. Smith, 21, killed himself during a struggle with police Sunday night after a series of drive-by shootings of Jews, blacks and Asians in Illinois and Indiana that left two people dead and nine wounded.

The white supremacist had tried to buy two 9 mm handguns and a shotgun on June 23 at a licensed gun shop in Peoria Heights, said Jerry Singer, an agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. After being rejected, Smith bought a Bryco .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun on June 26 and .22-caliber pistol on June 29 from an illegal dealer who already was being investigated by the ATF, Singer said.

House Chairman Seeks Tax Breaks for Long-Term Health Care THE WASHINGTON POST -- WASHINGTON

The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday called for the federal government to begin offering tax breaks to make long-term health care more affordable for elderly people with disabilities or lasting illnesses.

The proposal by Rep. Bill Archer, R-Texas, would eventually allow people who buy long-term care insurance to deduct the entire expense of those premiums from their taxes. It also would give tax breaks to Americans who care for elderly relatives at home, and seeks to give employers incentives to include insurance for long-term care among the benefits they offer to their workers.

Archer’s efforts to lessen the burden of paying for nursing homes and other long-term health care will be part of a House GOP tax package that could total more than $800 billion over the next decade. The Republican tax plan, which will be taken up by the committee when Congress reconvenes next week, would also reduce taxes on income, capital gains and inheritances.

Tape Recordings Admitted in Cisneros’ Trial LOS ANGELES TIMES -- WASHINGTON

Bolstering the government’s case against former Housing Secretary Henry G. Cisneros, a federal judge said Tuesday he plans to allow prosecutors to present crucial segments of recorded phone conversations to try to show Cisneros conspired to conceal payments he made to his former mistress.

U.S. District Judge Stanley Sporkin rejected defense arguments that all 88 conversations secretly tape-recorded by Linda Jones had been “tampered with” and were inadmissible. Jones has admitted re-copying all the tapes to omit portions she deemed unfavorable to her.

But Sporkin said the government would be entitled to play key segments for jurors that contain Cisneros’ voice and seem relevant to the case against him. Despite defense lawyers’ attacks on the validity of the recordings, associate prosecutor James Fleissner told Sporkin, “We have witnesses who will testify to the authenticity of segments” that jurors would hear.

Cisneros’ trial is scheduled for September. His December 1997 indictment charged that he misled FBI investigators who were checking into his background after President Clinton nominated him to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development.