News In Brief

By , Suzanne MacLachlan, and Peter E. Nordahl

THE WORLD

US officials called for the immediate release of two Americans who strayed across the Kuwaiti border into Iraq. The wife of one of the men appealed to Baghdad to reverse its decision. Iraq sentenced the men to eight years in prison. White House Chief of Staff Panetta said the administration planned to work chiefly outside the UN for the release of the Americans.

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The UN began evacuating more than 1,000 Turkish Kurd refugees. Turkish forces received reinforcements and equipment ferried by air from two major border points. The US said it would monitor the campaign daily for possible human-rights abuses. Germany said it is checking whether Turkey is using German-supplied weapons.

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Japanese police said they uncovered a chemical warehouse and laboratory at the complex belonging to Aum Shinri Kyo, the cult linked to Monday's nerve-gas attack in Tokyo. New evidence from the compound includes chemical samples matching those taken from the subway attack and an unsolved nerve-gas case from last July.

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Hillary Clinton began a 12-day South Asian tour yesterday with an opening round of talks with Pakistan's beleaguered Prime Minister Bhutto. Workers in Karachi, meanwhile, held a one-day strike to protest escalating violence there.

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Algerian troops ended their most important offensive against Islamic extremists, battling about 450 guerrillas, an Algerian newspaper reported. Earlier, the paper said more than 300 guerrillas were killed in fighting that lasted five days. About 3,000 demonstrators in Nantes, France, protested France's visa policy toward Algerians, saying it endangers those trying to flee the Islamic insurgency.

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Bosnian Serb forces hit back against a week-long offensive by the Muslim-led Bosnian government army, the UN said. The Serbs shelled the UN safe area of Gorazde and the Muslim enclave of east Mostar, killing one child and wounding six civilians. NATO warplanes were diverted to the area in a show of force but did not attack, the UN said.

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The breakaway Trans-Dniester region of eastern Moldova yesterday held local elections and a referendum on the withdrawal of Russian troops. Moldova and Russia signed an agreement last August to gradually withdraw the troops, but separatist leaders rejected the pact, fearing the withdrawal would allow Moldova to reestablish administrative control. Moldovan authorities have declared the referendum illegal.

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Ottawa threatened renewed action against Spanish trawlers fishing in disputed waters off the coast of Newfoundland. Talks aimed at settling a bitter fish war between Canada and the EU ended without agreement.

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Internal border controls between seven of the European Union's 15 members were eliminated to create a bloc in which citizens can move unchecked.

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The US and North Korea ended a second day of talks to try to salvage a plan intended to keep Pyongyang from making nuclear weapons. The board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency will meet in Vienna today to review issues including inspection of North Korean nuclear plants.

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About 15,000 people fleeing ethnic violence in Burundi arrived in Zaire, the UN said. About half the refugees hold Zairean citizenship but live in Burundi.

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Previewing his encyclical on life, which will be made public this week, Pope John Paul II portrayed the acceptance of abortion and euthanasia as threats to democracy and peace.

THE US

A $13 billion spending-cut package moves to the Senate floor this week. The package, milder than the House's bill to cut $17 billion from the budget, also includes $1.9 billion in immediate disaster assistance for 40 states. President Clinton, who has threatened to veto the House bill, has not said whether he also opposes the Senate plan.

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In his weekly radio speech, Clinton urged Congress to finish work on the line-item veto measure. A House-Senate conference committee must iron out significant differences in the two houses' versions of the bill, which passed the Senate 69 to 29 last week. Clinton also asked legislators of both parties to tone down their rhetoric in the rancorous welfare-reform debate.

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A Newsweek poll said nearly one-half of American whites would support affirmative action if preference were based on income instead of race. The survey found that only 27 percent of women and less than one-quarter of minorities thought they had benefitted significantly from affirmative action.

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The National Labor Relations Board scheduled an extraordinary Sunday meeting over the baseball strike. The board was expected to seek an injunction against baseball owners. Players have said they'll end their strike if the injunction is granted, but owners say in that case they'll lock the players out. Meanwhile, a replacement player for the Atlanta Braves, Dave Shotkoski, was shot and killed Saturday night. Police are seeking a suspect and motive.

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The Dow Jones industrial average set a record high for the third week in a row, ending the week at 4,138.67. Investors seem convinced that the Federal Reserve has pulled off a ''soft landing,'' lowering inflation without causing a recession. The Commerce Department said durable-goods orders fell 0.8 percent in February, the first decline in four months.

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Ohio Representative Trafficant has introduced a bill to put the burden of proof on the IRS in income-tax disputes. The internal revenue commissioner and Treasury officials denounced the measure in hearings late last week, saying it would destroy the tax system and make it all but impossible to collect taxes.

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Chrysler Corp. may replace door latches on millions of minivans for free, a published report said. A government highway safety agency has been investigating the latches to see if unbelted riders could be thrown out the back door in a crash if the latches opened.

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USAir and its pilots' union announced tentative agreement on a package of wage concessions. It was not clear what ''financial returns and governance participation'' the pilots received in return. The airline must negotiate similar deals with flight attendants and mechanics.

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In upstate New York, police said three people were killed in a shootout between factions of the Seneca Nation of Indians. Tensions among Senecas have run high since November, when the tribal council voted to impeach newly elected President Dennis Bowen. He refuses to step down.

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In Orange County, Calif., officials representing cities and schools concluded a settlement plan with the county over its bankrupt investment pool. An official said that distribution of cash and interest earnings would mean participants would get 103 cents on the dollar over time. Participants and the courts must now approve the deal.

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O. J. Simpson's house guest, Brian (Kato) Kaelin, returns to the stand today in the former football player's double-murder trial. Kaelin spent most of last week answering questions from prosecutors and defense lawyers on events the night of the crimes.

ETCETERA

You might as well repeal the incometax law and pass the hat.''

-- IRS Commissioner Margaret Milner Richardson, on a proposal to put the burden of proof on the IRS

The NCAA women's basketball tournament reached the semifinals. Connecticut faces Stanford on April 1, and Tennessee meets Georgia on April 2. Both games will be played at the Target Center in Minneapolis.

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Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson was released from an Indiana prison Saturday after serving three years for rape.

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A 39-step contraption that turns on a radio with the help of a dancing plastic plant, eight-track tapes, and mousetraps won top honors Saturday at a contest honoring the wacky inventor Rube Goldberg. The machine was put together by students at Purdue University.

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More than $7,000 in paper money briefly littered a four-lane highway in Boston Friday. At least that's what was left when police arrived.

Top 15 TV Shows, March 13-19

Rank/Show/Network/Rating

1. ''Seinfeld,'' NBC, 21.4, 20.4 million homes

2. ''Home Improvement,'' ABC, 20.5, 19.6 million homes

3. (tie) ''E.R.,'' NBC, 19.8, 18.9 million homes

3. (tie) ''Friends,'' NBC, 19.8, 18.9 million homes

5. ''Grace Under Fire,'' ABC, 19.6, 18.7 million homes

6. (tie) ''NYPD Blues,'' ABC, 16.9, 16.1 million homes

6. (tie)''60 Minutes,'' CBS, 16.9, 16.1 million homes

8. ''Mad About You,'' NBC, 15.3, 14.6 million homes

9. ''Hope & Gloria,'' NBC, 14.9, 14.2 million homes

10. ''Murphy Brown.'' CBS, 14.8, 14.1 million homes

11. (tie) ''Murder, She Wrote,'' CBS, 14.3, 13.6 million homes

11. (tie) ''20-20,'' ABC, 14.3, 13.6 million homes

13. ''Ed McBains' 87th Precinct -- NBC Sunday Movie,'' 13.8, 13.2 million homes

14. ''Chicago Hope,'' CBS, 13.7, 13.1 million homes

15. ''Ellen,'' ABC, 13.5, 12.9 million homes

(Rating equals percentage of American homes with TVs)

A.C. Nielsen Co.

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