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A Justice Department plan to reunite Elian Gonzalez with his Cuban father at a Miami-area airport was put on hold while efforts were made to arrange a meeting between Juan Miguel Gonzalez and the child's Miami relatives. A likely venue appeared to be Washington, but Lazaro Gonzalez, Elian's great-uncle, also proposed a location in south Florida. In any case, the father has said previously he wouldn't meet with the relatives until he had custody. Immigration officials said they'd reinstate their own plan if a meeting wasn't arranged within a day.

Despite a decline in youth violence, more students are being punished and public fear about violence is on the rise, the Justice Policy Institute reported. Citing Maryland, the report said suspensions for false alarms and bomb threats rose 44 percent from the 1997-98 school year to 1998-99. Yet nationwide, youth-homicide arrests dropped 56 percent from 1993 to 1998. But two-thirds of people polled by The Washington Post said they believed children were becoming more violent. The report recommends more counseling, balanced media coverage of school shootings, and tougher gun-control laws.

House Republicans passed a bill that would strengthen gun enforcement by rewarding states that impose tough mandatory minimum sentences on armed criminals. The measure provides $100 million over five years for states that sentence people who use or carry guns during violent crimes or drug-trafficking offenses to at least five years in prison without parole. The White House and Democrats went along with the bill but said it provided too little money to make a difference. (Related story, page 1.)

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