News In Brief

By , David Mutch, and Peter E. Nordahl

The World

Iraq's parliament Speaker denied he said two Americans sentenced to eight years in prison in Iraq had planned sabotage. Claiming Reuters had misquoted him, Saadi Mehdi Saleh said ''humanitarian doors are not shut to them yet'' but that his country wanted to know the reasons the men crossed its border. Saleh again hit UN trade sanctions against Iraq. Meanwhile, the UN envoy in charge of disarming Iraq said yesterday four days of talks in Baghdad had made progress but had not solved all remaining problems.

Turkish troops in northern Iraq pushed Kurdish rebels toward the Syrian and Iranian borders yesterday as fighting continued. Germany suspended military sales and subsidies to Turkey to protest the Turkish operation. In a Cabinet reshuffle to satisfy coalition politics, Turkish President Demirel fired his foreign minister and replaced 10 other ministers.

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Spanish fishermen headed back to disputed fishing grounds in international waters. Sunday Canadian patrol boats cut the nets of a Spanish boat off Newfoundland and tried to board two others. The EU said Canada's unilateral fishing moratorium was ''piracy,'' and Ottawa was set to air its position at the UN.

The UN said it will call for NATO airstrikes against Bosnian Serb artillery if it fires again into safe areas. Civilians were killed in such attacks over the weekend. The Serbs said the safe areas are being used as staging areas for the current strong military push by government forces and indicated they probably will attack more of them.

President Mandela fired his estranged wife, Winnie, from the South African government, ridding his cabinet of a stinging critic of his conservative economic policies. She remains a key figure in the African National Congress, where she champions poor blacks. Separately, South Africa's Chamber of Mines canceled a closed-shop agreement that favored whites for 58 years.

More than 90 percent of voters in the breakaway Trans- Dniester region of Moldova voted to keep Russian troops in the area, early results of a Sunday referendum showed. Local officials, concerned about Moldova reestablishing control, welcomed the results.

A top Algerian journalist was killed yesterday, the second top editor in the country to be murdered in four months. Islamists are suspected of killing Mohammed Abderrahmani, chief editor of the government-run newspaper El Moudjahid.

Guatemalan authorities almost never respond to charges of politically motivated murder, according to a UN human-rights group posted in the country. Last week, US Representative Torricelli said a Guatemalan colonel formerly on the CIA payroll was responsible for the deaths of one American and of the Guatamalan husband of another.

Uzbekistan voters extended the tenure of President Islam Karimov from 1997 to 2000, preliminary election results showed. Final results will be released Wednesday. Officials said over 50 percent of voters turned out. Opposition groups have been largely suppressed in the troubled nation since the Soviet breakup in 1991.

US-North Korean talks in Berlin paused so US negotiators could confer in Washington on new North Korean proposals. The talks center on modifying Pyongyang's nuclear program, but North Korea has stalled on plans to provide it with reactors from South Korea.

Canada's Parliament ordered striking railroad employees back to work, but full service for commuters and shippers wasn't expected before today. Some 30,000 employees have been off their jobs for a week. Lifetime job-security provisions were the basic issue.

The US

President Clinton was set to announce a plan to cut operations at five major agencies. Changes at the FCC, FEMA, the Small Business Administration, the Interior Department, and NASA will save $20.8 billion over five years, the administration said. Many had previously been announced. The Washington Post said the NASA cuts would trim 55,000 jobs in government and space-related industries.

Sales of existing homes fell 5 percent in February, a realtors' group said. The National Association of Realtors said sales of existing single-family houses totaled a seasonally adjusted rate of $3.43 billion, down from $3.61 billion in January. Thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged about 8.75 percent during the month.

White House staff chief Panetta said Clinton will veto GOP welfare-reform measures if they take away a child's right to aid. The House Republican plan would cut federal welfare spending $66 billion over five years by ending entitlement programs and turning them over to the states. The Senate is expected to moderate the bill. Panetta also threatened vetoes of GOP proposals to overturn last year's crime bill and cut capital-gains taxes.

One-third of baseball fans polled said they would watch fewer games if replacement players are used. Some 28 percent told an Associated Press survey they expect their interest to remain lower even when the strike ends. The poll found that younger, higher-income fans are the most likely to turn baseball off. Meanwhile, the National Labor Relations Board was set to seek a court injunction against the baseball owners for unfair labor practices.

The Supreme Court was set to hear arguments in a case challenging an Oregon school's drug-testing of athletes. (Story, Page 1.) In other cases, the court agreed to decide whether a bank can refuse to release funds it holds for people who have filed for bankruptcy protection and who owe the bank money. It also let stand a Minnesota law limiting lawn signs to one per home, except during political campaigns. And it agreed to decide whether criminals who plead guilty must be told they have a right to a jury trial if they want to challenge government seizure of their assets.

A House vote is expected tomorrow on term limits for members of Congress. The House GOP is divided over the limits to be imposed and Republicans are reportedly well short of the two-thirds majority needed to approve a constitutional amendment. Advocates claim voters will take revenge at the polls if the measure does not pass.

The GOP is making strong voter-registration gains in the South under simplified ''motor voter'' registration procedures. The Associated Press said 637,429 people registered at motor vehicle departments, welfare agencies, libraries, and military recruiting offices during January and February under a new law. In two states where voters register by party, between 30 percent and 40 percent of new registrants said they were independents.

Conservative Republicans took aim at California Governor Wilson's pro-choice position on abortion. But Wilson said a single issue would not decide the nomination. Black conservative talk-radio host Alan Keyes, who strongly opposes abortion, formally announced his candidacy Sunday, saying abortion should be the No. 1 issue in the campaign. Keyes is given little chance of getting the nomination.

Folks in the Great Plains are digging out from an early-spring snowstorm that dumped up to 10 inches of white stuff in some places. The storm closed interstates in Colorado and Nebraska with drifts up to six feet deep. Forecasters are predicting drier weather in the region for the rest of the week.

Honda Motor Co. is considering repairing millions of possibly faulty seat belts. The Detroit News said federal safety officials are looking into allegations that the belts, which are made by Takata Inc. and found in several Japanese car models, can fail to latch properly. Several other Japanese companies are also considering the move.

Etcetera

The NCAA men's basketball tournament is down to four teams and the semifinals. Oklahoma State, which beat UMass, will face UCLA, which defeated UConn. North Carolina, which beat Kentucky, will meet Arkansas, which beat Virginia. The semifinals are Saturday in Seattle.

Three pre-Columbian gold artifacts are back at the National Geographic Society in Washington after a whirlwind weekend that saw two of the trinkets pawned for $100 each and another traded for $20 and a pawn ticket. The last of the stolen pieces turned up Sunday.

Poachers have killed four rare mountain gorillas in a national park in southwestern Uganda, apparently to steal their babies, wildlife officials said yesterday. An estimated 280 mountain gorillas, about half the world's population, live in the park.

``Not only the vast number of Americans, but the vast number of Republicans are, in fact, pro-choice. We don't want government in the bedroom.''

California Gov. Pete Wilson

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