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News Briefs

Hezbollah Answers Israel’s Attacks With Rocket Barrage

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- JERUSALEM

Lebanese guerrillas sent Katyusha rockets slamming into northern Israel on Thursday, injuring more than two dozen people, sending thousands racing for bomb shelters, and setting cars and building ablaze.

The heaviest cross-border barrage in nearly a year followed a string of attacks in recent days by Israel and its militia allies on one side and Iranian-backed Hezbollah guerrillas on the other. In the most serious incident, two Lebanese women were killed earlier Thursday in shelling that Israel’s army commander described as “unauthorized” firing by the South Lebanon Army, an Israeli-trained and financed militia.

Israel immediately retaliated for Hezbollah’s evening rocket fire on the border town of Kiryat Shemona by launching airstrikes on a village reported to have been the source of the fire. Late Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak met with his security cabinet to consider further retaliation, according to television news accounts.

“No country on Earth will be ready to accept salvos of Katyushas on its civilian centers,” Barak told reporters during a later visit to Kiryat Shemona. “Israel will not allow it to happen and we will have to respond, and we will know how to respond.”

Bush Makes Campaign Swing To California

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- MISSION VIEJO, CALIF.

Texas Gov. George W. Bush swept through Orange County on Thursday hoping to focus on prayer and education, two subjects he actually likes talking about.

Instead, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee found himself fending off questions about gun control and his new Social Security plan, the details of which he has yet to spell out.

And he continued to accuse Vice President Al Gore, his Democratic opponent, of twisting his record and achievements as governor.

“It’s disappointing that someone running for the highest office of the land would continue saying, and feel free and comfortable about saying, things that simply aren’t true,” he said.

Bush noted that Gore has accused him of never submitting a budget as Texas governor when, in fact, he has. It’s amazing Gore could “look people in the eye” and make such a claim said Bush, who brought along the cover sheets of recent state budgets to prove his point.

Gore Calls Bush an NRA Pawn

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- CHICAGO

Al Gore attacked George W. Bush Thursday as a pawn of the Washington gun lobby, quoting a National Rifle Association leader who said electing Bush would make the Oval Office an adjunct of the NRA.

The Texas governor brushed aside the vice president’s attack as well as the assertion by Kayne Robinson, first vice president of the powerful lobbying group. “I don’t want to disappoint the man,” Bush said. “But I’ll be setting up shop in the White House. It’ll be my office.”

The back-and-forth came as Robinson’s remarks at a February NRA meeting in Los Angeles surfaced in a TV advertisement financed by the gun lobby’s nemesis, Handgun Control Inc. Robinson told NRA members if Bush wins the White House “we’ll have a president ... where we work out of their office.”

Robinson also said the NRA enjoys “unbelievably friendly relations” with Bush and said the governor’s election would ensure “a Supreme Court that will back us to the hilt.”