News In Brief

THE US

A statewide prayer service was to take place yesterday afternoon in Oklahoma City to remember the victims of the federal building blast. The Rev. Billy Graham was to officiate, and President and Mrs. Clinton were to be among those in attendance. Rescue workers continued their search for survivors, nearing the sites of two daycare centers. At press time, the death toll from the bombing stood at 78. Some 150 people were still missing, and 400 were injured. Timothy McVeigh was arraigned as a suspect Friday, and a manhunt continued for a second suspect and possibly more. Two Michigan brothers were held as material witnesses. Investigators said they suspect a link between the bombing and extremist US paramilitary groups that oppose the federal government. McVeigh was reportedly agitated over the federal government's handling the Branch Davidian affair in Waco, Texas, two years ago.

*

The FBI is conducting a criminal investigation to find out who delivered a phony, anonymous threat that a Japanese cult planned to release deadly nerve gas at Disneyland over Easter weekend. The Baltimore Sun newspaper reported that authorities had stopped two Japanese men at Los Angeles International Airport shortly before the April 16 holiday and found instructions on how to make the highly toxic gas sarin. The Justice Department said there was no basis for the news report.

*

Thousands of Americans marked the 25th anniversary of Earth Day in the shadow of the Capitol Saturday. One main topic of discussion: that GOP-dominated Congress could roll back environmental protection laws, many of which have been in place since the early 1970s. Russia and Poland also celebrated the day.

*

Senators return from spring break today to face tough choices on spending cuts and a stack of other bills prompted by the GOP Contract With America. Senators Dole, Gramm, and Lugar, all seeking the Republican nomination for president, are under particular pressure to come up with some form of tax cuts. During visits home, GOP members of Congress heard mostly praise from their constituents on efforts to shake up government, according to a Reuters report.

*

Treasury Secretary Rubin returned from an eight-day tour of Asia vowing to avoid the ''mistake'' the US made in China -- falling behind in the race to develop ties with the world's fastest-growing markets. He spent four days in India after attending the Asia-Pacific trade meeting in Indonesia.

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The Clintons testified before the Whitewater independent counsel about financial transactions under review by a grand jury. The Whitewater counsel is investigating the couple's personal and campaign finances from their years in Little Rock, Ark.

*

A grand jury in Chicago indicted another alleged ghost worker of former US Representative Rostenkowski. Robert Russo was accused of lying to a grand jury about pay and hours spent cleaning the Congressman's district offices.

*

The O.J. Simpson trial was put on hold Friday so Judge Ito could try to sort out, beginning today, the mess involving the sheriff's deputies who watch over the jurors. Ito relieved three of the deputies of their posts last week after one juror's complaints. The LA County Sheriff said he was outraged at the dismissals, and 13 of the panelists refused to enter the courtroom. Witness Brian ''Kato'' Kaelin told a book author that Simpson had ''heatedly'' stopped him from handling a duffel bag as Simpson left for a trip on the night of his ex-wife's murder.

*

H. Patrick Swygert, president of the University at Albany of the State University of New York, was named president of Howard University. Swygert will be the school's 15th president.

*

Rain chased Atlanta's spring-break party, Freaknik, indoors after a night of looting and two shootings. Trouble in past years caused police to close off 200 blocks of downtown Atlanta for the celebration, which this year drew more than 200,000 black college students and other youth.

THE WORLD

At least 5,000 people were killed by Rwandan soldiers or trampled in stampedes when refugees tried to break out of a camp in southwestern Rwanda, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said. Unconfirmed reports put the death toll as high as 8,000. Roads from the camps were clogged with tens of thousands of fleeing refugees.

*

A man reportedly out to punish the sect suspected in the Tokyo subway gas attack stabbed a senior Aum Shinri Kyo leader.. Hideo Murai has been identified as head of Aum Shinri Kyo's ''Science and Technology Ministry,'' linked to its chemical research. He was attacked outside the sect's Tokyo headquarters. Aum Shinri Kyo has denied any connection with the March 20 subway attack.

*

French voters began choosing a president yesterday in the first round of a two-stage battle. Conservative Paris mayor Chirac was favored to win. There was to be a tight contest for the second spot in the May 7 runoff between Chirac's fellow conservative, Prime Minister Balladur, and Socialist Lionel Jospin.

*

UN officials blamed growing divisions between the Bosnian Serb military and political leaders for a standoff Saturday that marooned US and German envoys at Sarajevo airport and forced them to leave. Peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia also suffered a blow when a French soldier was wounded yesterday in an explosion in Sarajevo, a day after three peacekeepers were killed defusing expired ammunition, the UN said. The UN extended the relaxation of sanctions on Yugoslavia but said it will set stricter conditions in the future.

*

Italians voted yesterday in regional elections whose outcome could influence the fate of the government and the date of the next general election. The elections were the first significant test of political support since Silvio Berlusconi resigned as prime minister last December. Newspapers said yesterday a victory for Berlusconi's center-right coalition in 10 of the 15 regions where voting was taking place would put pressure on President Scalfaro to dissolve parliament.

*

Apparently hoping for a reprieve from PLO leader Arafat's crackdown on extremists, the Islamic Jihad said it would consider a temporary freeze on anti-Israeli attacks. The freeze would last until July 1 and apply only to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank area of Jericho. Israeli Prime Minister Rabin replied that an agreement would only work if attacks stopped in both Israel and PLO-run areas. Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, meanwhile, said they would meet next month in Cairo to try to iron out differences blocking progress in peace talks.

*

Turkish jets pounded rebel positions as troops engaged Kurdish guerrillas in a new clash in northern Iraq. The latest flare-up in the five-week-long incursion began Friday after Turkish soldiers located 150 rebels about nine miles south of the Turkish border. About 5,000 soldiers are taking part in the operation, which could last 10 days, news reports said.

*

President Ramos urged a stop to violence in the Philippines, warning that it could damage the country's international image and derail economic progress. Police filed murder charges against two politicians and 16 bodyguards for the shooting death Saturday of gubernatorial candidate Honorato Perez and a security escort.

*

Talks to end a peasant-backed uprising in southern Mexico got under way in San Andres Larrainzar, Mexico. Talks were to have begun Thursday, but the government said it would not come to the table until more than 1,000 pro-rebel peasants cleared out of the town's main plaza.

ETCETERA

We haven't had a trade war in the world in 60 years and I don't expect we are going to have one now.''

-- US Trade Representative Kantor on continuing trade talks with Japan

Major Newspaper Closures and Mergers

The Evening Bulletin of Providence, R. I., to close June 5

The Houston Post, 1995

The San Antonio Light, 1993

The Richmond (Va.) News Leader, 1992

Spokane (Wash.) Chronicle, 1992

San Diego Tribune, 1992

The Anchorage (Alaska) Times, 1992

The Pittsburgh Press, 1992

Arkansas Gazette, 1991

Dallas Times Herald, 1991

The Hudson (N. J.) Dispatch, 1991

The State-Times of Baton Rouge, La., 1991

The Evening Express of Portland, Maine, 1991

The Kansas City (Mo.) Times, 1990

The Raleigh (N. C.) Times, 1989

The Miami News, 1989

Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, 1989

The News American of Baltimore, 1986

St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 1986

Columbus (Ohio) Citizen- Journal, 1986

Memphis Press-Scimitar, 1983

Buffalo (N. Y.) Courier-Express, 1982

The Bulletin of Philadelphia, 1982

The Cleveland Press, 1982

The Washington Star, 1981

The Milwaukee Journal and The Milwaukee Sentinel merged April 2 to form the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

-- Associated Press

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