News In Brief

By , Suzanne MacLachlan, and Peter Nordahl.

THE WORLD

Russian and Chechen officials agreed to a 48-hour cease-fire to begin last night at midnight. Negotiations on a longer-lasting peace are to resume tomorrow. A preliminary agreement to stop using heavy artillery and to exchange prisoners of war and the dead was punctuated by artillery and missile attacks south of Grozny. The Russian government has questioned whether Chechen volunteers fighting independently of leader Dudayev will obey any truce.

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A UN convoy left for the beleaguered Muslim enclave of Bihac in northwest Bosnia with 96 tons of food. It received permission to cross rebel Serb territory in Croatia, but the 10 trucks will have to negotiate a number of checkpoints that could impede their progress. The UN said the Bihac enclave needed at least one convoy a day to be fed properly. Meanwhile, the US and four partners proposed to ease curbs on trade and fuel shipments to Serbia. In exchange, Serbian President Milosevic would have to recognize Bosnia, Croatia, and two other former Yugoslav republics as sovereign nations.

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In an apparent about-face, Mexico ordered troops to avoid confrontation in the southern state of Chiapas and bowed to rebel demands that the governor resign. President Zedillo promised to ask Mexico's Congress to approve an amnesty for Zapatistas who lay down their arms. He also said he would allow journalists and human-rights observers to visit areas captured by the Army. There was no immediate response from the rebels.

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With trade talks set to resume today, China said it seized nearly 360,000 pirated products in late-January raids. Washington has said it would impose 100 percent tariffs on more than $1 billion in Chinese exports unless China takes decisive action to curb piracy of intellectual property by Feb. 26.

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Pioneer Electronic Corp. became the first Japanese company to announce a line of personal computers using Apple Computer's Macintosh operating system. The announcement was a victory for Apple in its effort to compete against Microsoft Windows, used in most PCs worldwide. Japan's merchandise trade surplus, meanwhile, dropped 52.3 percent in January from a year earlier, largely because of the Kobe earthquake, the Finance Ministry said.

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Members of the new World Trade Organization began another round of talks. They are trying to end the power struggle that has prevented them from choosing a director-general. Three regional blocs have pushed their own candidates, and there have been few indications of the consensus needed to fill the post.

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South African President Mandela said he would not run again when his term expires in 1999. He said he was physically fit but wanted to pass the mantle to a younger man.

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Philippine President Ramos ordered the strengthening of military outposts in the contested Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. He will send two more patrol boats to increase surveillance there. China currently occupies the Panganiban Reef, which Manila also claims. The islands are believed to be rich in minerals.

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North Korea held a mass rally in Pyongyang to celebrate Kim Jong Il's birthday. The government designated Feb. 15 as the country's ''greatest holiday.'' It was the clearest indication yet that Kim may formally take power soon. Meanwhile, the North Korean government threatened to withdraw from a landmark nuclear deal if the US insists on giving it nuclear reactors designed in South Korea.

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A former member of the Italian parliament was arrested on charges of colluding with the mob. He was the second Christian Democrat politician accused this week of Mafia ties.

THE US

Consumer prices jumped 0.3 percent in January, the Labor Department said. Such a rate over the coming year would lead to a 4.1 percent inflation rate, much more than the 3.2 percent predicted by the White House. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve said industrial production climbed 0.4 percent last month and factories and mines were operating at 85.5 percent of capacity, the highest level since October 1979. The Commerce Department reported that December business inventories rose 0.2 percent, while sales surged 1.3 percent, bringing the increase in sales for all of 1994 to 7.8 percent.

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The GOP anticrime package moved to the Senate, which is expected to modify it. Senator Hatch said the bill must be rewritten to secure Senate passage and a presidential signature. President Clinton has said he would veto any bill that ends his program to put 100,000 new police officers on the street. Meanwhile, a Senate committee approved two line-item veto bills. One would require a simple majority vote to reinstate vetoed spending; the other would require a two-thirds majority.

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A House subcommittee approved radical changes in foster-care programs. It also voted to ban welfare for immigrants, except refugees and the very elderly. The measures are part of a welfare-reform bill that would combine several assistance programs into block grants to states. The administration says the bill would cut welfare spending $5 billion over five years and leave one-third of foster-care slots for low-income children unfunded.

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A group of 23 conservative Democrats said they would stake out independent positions on a range of issues. Calling themselves The Coalition, they said they're not rejecting party leadership but want to temper extremes on both sides.

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The Justice Department and Microsoft Corp. are figuring out what to do next after a federal judge unexpectedly threw out their proposed antitrust settlement. District Judge Stanley Sporkin said the settlement would not break the software giant's monopoly on operating systems or remedy its past ''anticompetitive practices.'' (Stories, Pages 1 and 9).

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Clinton said a defense and foreign-policy bill the House is considering is ''clearly unacceptable.'' In a letter to Speaker Gingrich, he said it ''would infringe upon my constitutional authority.'' His Cabinet advisers said they would recommend a veto.

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Earthquake aid of $5.3 billion for California is caught in a flap between the administration and GOP congressional leaders. The Republicans insist that the additional spending must be balanced by equal cuts. The administration says a law permits the government to raise the deficit to spend in an emergency.

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New York Mayor Giuliani's proposed 1996 budget would cut welfare and Medicaid by $1.2 billion. The mayor would also cut the number of city employees by 12,000 next year. Giuliani is trying to close a $2.7 billion deficit next fiscal year.

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Medical schools must teach abortion techniques to obstetricians to keep their accreditation, a governing body said. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education said programs can opt out if they have moral or religious objections to providing such training, but must contract with another facility to do the teaching. Abortion opponents denounced the decision.

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In the O. J. Simpson murder trial, the first police officers to arrive at the crime scene continued their testimony. The defense pursued its strategy of attempting to show that Los Angeles police so bungled the investigation that the truth in the case will never be known. ABC News said two jurors are under investigation for possible misconduct.

ETCETERA

NBC has a slim lead with a 12.4 rating and 20 share halfway through the February sweeps, an intensive, four-week audience-measurement period. ABC is second with a 12.2 rating and 19 share, according to Nielsen Media Research figures. CBS trails with an 11.8 rating and 18 share. One ratings point equals 954,000 TV households. Share is the percentage of TVs in use at any one time that are tuned to a particular broadcast.

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A bill outlawing satellite dishes in Iran cleared final legislative hurdles in Tehran yesterday, paving the way for a ban that could come into force as early as April. Satellite-dish owners would then have one month to turn in their equipment or face fines of up to $740 at the open-market exchange rate.

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Japanese scientists report they have taken a large step toward developing a new generation of lighter batteries by creating an electrode that uses plastics.

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Answering a questionnaire about people who work in public broadcasting cost taxpayers $92,000, said Henry Cauthen, Corporation for Public Broadcasting chairman. The inquiry came from South Dakota Senator Pressler, who chairs a panel that handles CPB funding.

Week's Best-Selling Hardcover Nonfiction

1. ''I Want to Tell You,'' O. J. Simpson (Little, Brown)

2. ''Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus,'' John Gray (HarperCollins)

3. ''The Hot Zone,'' Richard Preston (Random House)

4. ''In the Kitchen With Rosie,'' Rosie Daley (Knopf)

5. ''Raging Heart,'' Sheila Weller (Pocket Books)

6. ''Doctor, What Should I Eat?'' Isadore Rosenfeld (Random House)

7. ''Crossing the Threshold of Hope,'' John Paul II (Knopf)

8. ''Food,'' Susan Powter (Simon & Schuster)

9. ''Illuminata,'' Marianne Williamson (Random House)

10. ''Couplehood,'' Paul Reiser (Bantam)

Publishers Weekly

American journalism is increasingly straying from its mission of public service and from its standards of fairness, accuracy, and integrity.''

Dan Rather

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