News In Brief

THE WORLD

Italian Premier Dini narrowly won a vote of confidence in Parliament, staving off the collapse of his two-month-old government. Former Premier Berlusconi had refused to back Dini in an attempt to defeat the government, force a national election, and return to power. The lira plunged to new lows before the vote but later rebounded slightly.

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Azerbaijani President Aliyev warned on national TV that the country was on the brink of civil war. He accused Deputy Interior Minister Javadov of trying to use a rebellious special police force to overthrow the government. Following the televised speech, government troops using grenade launchers attacked the barracks of the special police but were repulsed.

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A Spanish fishing boat headed home after being released by Canadian authorities. Canada's decision to release the craft, impounded March 9 on suspicion of illegal fishing, was aimed at defusing a diplomatic standoff with the EU over fishing rights in the North Atlantic.

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Mexico dropped charges against Abraham Rubio Canalas, the main suspect in the Sept. 28 assassination of Jose Francisco Ruiz Massieu, a top ruling-party official. The government is now focusing on Mario Ruiz Massieu, the slain man's brother and Mexico's former top drug prosecutor. The US seized $9 million it says belongs to Ruiz Massieu. He is in custody in New York while Mexico seeks his extradition.

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Having helped avert war in Serb-held areas of Croatia, the US moved to bolster ties between Bosnia and Croatia. President Clinton will meet Croatian President Tudjman today to finalize a deal to keep some UN peacekeepers in Croatia. Secretary of State Christopher yesterday brought together key Balkan players to mark the first anniversary of a Federation of Bosnia and Herzogovina. The UN, meanwhile, accused Bosnian Serbs of deliberately targeting British peacekeepers, as fighting picked up around Sarajevo.

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About 2,000 people staged a rally in front of the Singapore Embassy in Manila yesterday in support of a Filipina maid charged with killing another maid. Singapore refused to stay her execution, set for today.

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Turkish businesses and clubs in seven German cities came under attack by suspected Kurdish militants for the third night in a row. Earlier, the federal government lifted a temporary restraining order on the deportation of Kurdish militants.

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Afghanistan's nominal President Rabbani said he would not be bound by a UN peace plan calling for him to quit by March 21. The UN wants Rabbani to resign in favor of a multiparty governing council that's open to all 10 Islamic factions involved in Afghanistan's civil war.

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The first American to fly to the Russian space station Mir arrived yesterday. Norman Thagard and his two Russian crew mates will stay for three months to conduct experiments.

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A record number of journalists were killed or jailed for their work last year, including 19 slain in Algeria and 74 imprisoned by Turkey, according to a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists. The 72 reporters killed worldwide included 14 who died in war zones in Bosnia, Somalia, Angola, Chechnya, and Rwanda. Another 15 journalists were victims of ethnic massacres in Rwanda.

THE US

The Budget Committee unveiled plans to reduce a broad range of discretionary programs by $100 billion over the next five years. The House was set to reach a final vote on a bill that would cut $17 billion in specific programs, including summer jobs for young people and public broadcasting. Also tucked into the bill is a provision that would halt a drive to toughen auto emissions standards.

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Housing Secretary Cisneros said Congress would heap ''the most massive of unfunded mandates'' on cities if it dismantles federal housing programs. Cisneros's comments followed Senate approval Wednesday of a bill that would relieve state and local governments of federal requirements that don't include money to pay for them.

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Consumer prices climbed 0.3 percent in January, as higher costs for food offset the first drop in gasoline prices in four months. Higher mortgage rates continued to curb building activity, especially in the South. Initial claims for jobless benefits rose in back-to-back weeks for the first time since October, which some economists said indicates a slowdown in the labor market.

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Senator Dole abandoned an effort to block President Clinton's order barring federal contracts to businesses that permanently replace striking workers. Senator Kassebaum said she would reintroduce the amendment later. The week-long debate halted Senate work on an emergency $2.6 billion defense-spending bill. Clinton advisers warned that the money must be approved by March 31 or military commanders would have to cut into training and equipment maintenance.

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The California Department of Agriculture estimated $360 million in crop losses from the latest storm to hit the state. More than 20,000 farm workers in the Salinas Valley will be affected by flooding, the United Farm workers Union estimated. Meanwhile, a new study shows the January 1994 earthquake in southern California cost an estimated $11.2 billion in insured property losses, up from previous estimates of 10.4 billion. (Story Page 4.)

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Military readiness won't be hurt by gays in the armed forces, according to Lawrence Korb, a former assistant secretary of defense. Korb testified yesterday in a federal court suit filed by six Army and Navy members facing discharge because they are homosexuals. Closing arguments were expected yesterday. The defendants are challenging the Pentagon's ''don't ask, don't tell'' policy.

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Senator Helms proposed merging major foreign-policy agencies into an enlarged State Department,which could save up to $6 billion in administrative costs over a five-year period. The administration earlier rejected consolidating existing agencies.

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Women and minorities are still rare in US boardrooms and executive suites, a Labor Department report said. Some 97 percent of senior managers of Fortune 100 industrial companies and Fortune 500 companies are white and most are male, the study found. But white males constitute only 29 percent of the work force.

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Space Shuttle Endeavour's telescopes have yielded a ''treasure chest of goodies'' that scientists hope will help solve such mysteries as the birth of the universe. Endeavour's seven astronauts return to Earth today after a 15-1/2 day flight, the longest in shuttle history.

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Police Detective Mark Fuhrman faced a fourth day of cross-examination in the O. J. Simpson trial yesterday. Earlier, defense attorney Bailey suggested that Fuhrman moved a bloody glove from the murder scene to Simpson's estate by sticking it in a plastic bag and hiding it in his sock. Jurors heard none of the arguments.

ETCETERA

If companies are discriminating against women and minorities, they are acting illegally. The companies have to change. Women and minorities don't have to change.''

--US Labor Secretary Reich on a new ''glass ceiling'' report

French conductor Claire Gibault on Sunday becomes the first woman to lead the La Scala Orchestra in Milan. Gibault will face one of the opera world's toughest audiences, nurtured on Verdi and Puchini. She will direct the contemporary opera ''La Station Thermale.'' A possible help - Italian Fabio Vacchi composed the work.

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British playwright Harold Pinter won the David Cohen British Literary Prize, honoring his entire body of writings. Pinter, whose work has influenced a generation of dramatists, said he will give the $48,000 prize money to the Citizens' Theater in Glasgow. The prize is awarded every two years to a living British writer.

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Billy Graham is acting as pastor to the world this week. In San Juan, Puerto Rico, the evangelist has spoken each evening to 23,000 people in 175 countries, while translators put his message into 102 languages. Packaged highlights are being beamed out by satellite Thursday through Saturday.

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In a spare-your-tongue move, the US Postal Service will triple production of peel-and-stick postage stamps this year. About 6.8 billion will be issued.

Top 10 TV Shows March 6-12

Rank/Show/Network/Rating

1. ''E.R.,'' NBC, 24.2, 23.1 million homes

2. ''Seinfeld,'' NBC, 20.7, 19.7 million homes

3. ''Friends,'' NBC, 20.0, 19.1 million homes

4. ''Grace Under Fire,'' ABC, 17.6, 16.8 million homes

4. ''Home Improvement,'' ABC, 17.6, 16.8 million homes

6. ''Home Improvement,'' ABC, 17.0, 16.2 million homes

7. ''Hope & Gloria,'' NBC, 16.3, 15.6 million homes

8. ''Mad About You,'' NBC, 15.8, 15.1 million homes

9. ''60 Minutes,'' CBS, 15.7, 15.0 million homes

10. ''Thunder Alley,'' ABC, 14.3, 13.6 million homes

(Rating equals percentage of American homes with TVs)

--A. C. Nielsen Co.

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