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News Briefs

Clinton Pushes Congress On Guns, Health Care


President Clinton, hoping to jump-start two initiatives stalled in Congress, Thursday used national news broadcasts and other venues to portray lawmakers as badly out of touch with the public’s desire for gun control and a “patients’ bill of rights.”

In almost hour-by-hour events and interviews in the White House, the president cited the nation’s latest school-shooting tragedy in calling on Congress to pass his legislative package on firearms. It would require trigger locks on new guns, background checks on buyers at gun shows and new research into so-called “safe gun technology.”

Meanwhile, the president shared a stage with several legislators and called for enhancing the power of patients in managed care organizations, including the right to sue HMOs over coverage decisions.

The day’s activities underscored the strengths and weaknesses of a Democratic president who faces a Republican-controlled Congress in his final year in office. Many GOP leaders, hoping to retake the White House in this fall’s elections, have little interest in moving Clinton’s legislative priorities, including the guns and patients’ proposals.

Crack House Resident Charged In Connection to School Shooting


Authorities Thursday charged a resident of a notorious crack house here with involuntary manslaughter for allowing a stolen pistol to fall into the hands of a 6-year-old boy who used it to kill his first-grade classmate on Tuesday.

The boy, who officials said had lived in a “chaotic” atmosphere among drug users and did not even have a bed, is the youngest schoolhouse shooter yet in a wave of such tragedies across the nation.

Prosecutors said they do not plan to charge the boy, because he is too young to have had any criminal intent. That means the resident of the drug house, Jamelle Andrew James, 19, may be the only person charged in the slaying of 6-year-old Kayla Rolland, who died of a single bullet wound at the Theo J. Buell Elementary School.

James, who police said kept the .32 caliber semi-automatic handgun under a blanket in his bedroom, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Municipal District Court here and was held in lieu of $100,000 bail. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 15 years.

Oil Producers Repeat Plans For Production Increase


Three powerful oil producing nations Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Mexico -- met in London Thursday and reiterated plans to boost production later this year but did not say how much or when.

A year ago, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other major oil producers agreed to cut production following an agreement by the same three nations. The result has been a strong recovery in oil prices from near $10 a barrel to more than $30 a barrel.

Light sweet crude for April delivery closed Thursday at $31.63 a barrel, down 8 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Together Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Mexico -- which is not a member of OPEC -- account for about a fifth of the world’s oil output. The three nations are also the top suppliers to the United States, which has been calling on its allies in the Gulf states and elsewhere to increase production to stabilize prices.

Venezuela’s minister of energy and mines, Ali Rodriguez, said Thursday that the three countries have agreed to that much.