News In Brief

By , David Mutch, and Peter E. Nordahl

The US

James and Terry Nichols, previously held as witnesses in last week's truck-bomb explosion in Oklahoma City, were charged as conspirators with Timothy McVeigh in the construction of explosive devices in Michigan. McVeigh remained the only person arrested in the actual bombing of the federal building. A radio station in San Clemente, Calif., dropped controversial talk show host G. Gordon Liddy from its programming, saying Liddy's views ''foster and encourage extremist action.'' At press time, the death toll from the bombing stood at 96. (Stories, Page 1.)

Senators Dole and Hatch said they would coordinate efforts with White House officials to strengthen antiterrorism laws. Senator Daschle warned against measures that could infringe on personal rights. Six members of Congress earlier wrote to Attorney General Reno to caution against a raid on militia groups. They said such actions could be ''a precursor to martial law.'' In a CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll, 72 percent of the respondents said the federal government should actively investigate and infiltrate armed resistance groups ''even if doing so may infringe on their constitutional rights.''

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The FBI, investigating a mail bombing that killed a timber industry lobbyist in his Sacramento, Calif., office Monday, said it had obtained three letters it believed were mailed by the ''Unabomber'' days before the attack. The New York Times reported yesterday it had received one of the letters, in which the writer said he would stop the killings if a news organization with nationwide circulation published a lengthy article written by him.

CIA director-nominee Deutch faced Senate questioning yesterday on terror bombings in the US and on CIA failure to fully inform Congress about Guatemalan killings involving Americans. Deutch said he would shake up the CIA to make it more effective against a perceived threat from international terror.

Senate Budget Committee chairman Domenici said balancing the budget will be so tough that he will likely have to delay presentation of his spending plan beyond its scheduled release Monday. Budget hearings are to begin today or tomorrow. Domenici's proposal includes a freeze on military spending and caps on entitlements such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Senators Domenici and Nunn introduced a bill to replace the current US tax system with one that allows unlimited deductions for savings and investments. They said the chief goal of the plan was to raise the level of national savings by allowing money an individual saves or invests to be deducted from income.

Orders to US factories for big-ticket durable goods rose 0.6 percent in March, rebounding from their first decline in four months, the Commerce Department reported. The increase surprised analysts, who had predicted a second straight drop.

A Senate committee approved a diluted package of medical-malpractice-liability reforms. The reforms would allow a state to gain an exemption by passing a law declaring that the federal statute did not apply to malpractice disputes within its borders.

The Supreme Court was to hear arguments on whether the Ku Klux Klan was discriminated against when Columbus, Ohio, city officials refused to let the group erect a 10-foot cross as part of a holiday display. The high court threw out a federal law that bans possession of a gun within 1,000 feet of a school. The court also ruled that states can regulate hospital costs by charging different rates based on a patient's health-care coverage. The decision reinstates part of New York's hospital-reimbursement system, saying it is not pre-empted by federal law.

The World

Russia will create a new army for the volatile North Caucasus region in a move that will breach limits laid down in a key disarmament pact, Interfax news agency said. Russian General Semyonov said the new 58th Army would be in place by June 1. He did not specify the number of troops involved or where the Army would be based. And Russia said it may withdraw its peacekeepers from Bosnia if warring parties fail to extend a truce.

Group of Seven officials meeting in Washington said the dollar had declined beyond ''justified'' levels indicated by underlying economic conditions. They said the dollar's battered course should be reversed but offered no specific plan on how to do so. Although they have bickered heatedly in the past about measures to bolster the dollar, G7 members kept a unified front after the meeting. Japanese Finance Minister Takemura, however, claimed the consensus was a victory for Japan's campaign to bolster the dollar.

More than 200,000 refugees chased from camps in southwest Rwanda have returned to their home villages, aid workers said, but hundreds reportedly armed with rifles and grenades held out against eviction. The Hutus were fleeing the Kibeho camp, where 2,000 were killed by the Army Saturday in its efforts to force refugees to return to their homes. At least nine were killed on the way home, the UN said. (Editorial, Page 20.)

South Africa celebrates its first anniversary of democracy today. Thousands of Zulus loyal to conservative Chief Buthelezi were expected to march in Johannesburg, demanding more power for post-apartheid South Africa's regional governments. While poverty among blacks has not yielded much in the past year, violence and political antagonism have lessened. (Story, Page 5.)

The pro-Iranian Hizbullah group in southern Lebanon mobilized its guerrillas for an expected Israeli revenge attack. A Hizbullah suicide car-bombing attack Tuesday wounded 11 Israeli soldiers. (Story, Page 1.)

The first international war-crimes tribunal since World War II opened in the Hague and will seek to mete out justice for alleged atrocities in Bosnia. Bosnian Serb Dusan Tadic pleaded innocent to charges of murder, rape, and crimes against humanity, all allegedly committed in Serb-held Bosnia in mid-1992. Top Bosnian Serb leaders also have been named as suspects by the tribunal. UN forces in Bosnia, meanwhile, conceded that they may have to yield to Serb demands to restrict civilian use of Sarajevo's airport.

Argentina's Army commander stated on TV that the nation's military had in fact killed political opponents during the ''Dirty War'' against leftists from 1976 to 1983. The admission shattered two decades of official silence.

Japan took delivery in Mutsu Ogawara of 14 tons of radioactive waste shipped from France, while police scuffled with dozens of protesters. As police staged an intense series of raids on sect sites, the leader of Aum Shinri Kyo, suspected in the March 20 gas attack on Tokyo's subway, warned in a book that the ''gods will explode with anger'' if the police attacks on the cult do not stop.

Iraq signed a cooperation deal with Russia to expand oil and gas transportation networks and refinery equipment. Russia will also help develop Iraq's southern oil fields. A Russian news agency said the projects will go ahead only after the UN lifts sanctions on Iraq.

Thousands of children marched in Lahore, Pakistan, to mark the killing of Iqbal Masih, a 12-year-old boy who had protested child labor in Pakistan's rug industry.

Etcetera

Ginger Rogers, who died Tuesday at her home in Rancho Mirage, will be remembered for the 10 musicals in which she danced and sang with Fred Astaire. But she was much more than Astaire's dancing partner. She won an Academy Award for her dramatic performance in ''Kitty Foyle.'' She also had a flair for comedy. Her career spanned 65 years, from vaudeville to television. (Editorial, Page 20.)

An examination of 1,430 Chinese products has found more than one-third to be substandard, news reports from Beijing say. State inspectors declared almost half the goods made by individuals or village enterprises defective. Only 1.6 percent of cross-bred corn seeds passed quality tests, reports said.

A statue of the bear that inspired A. A. Milne's children's stories about Winnie the Pooh is to be erected at the London Zoo as a gift from Canada. The real bear was the mascot of a Canadian regiment stationed in Britain in 1914. Canada is donating the statue, a replica of one in Winnipeg.

Dizzy Gillespie's original bent-bell trumpet went for $63,000 on the auction block at Christie's in New York. Its bell was bent 45 degrees when a dancer tripped while performing at a birthday party for Gillespie's wife in the '50s. The bent bell became his trademark. ''I can hear my mistakes quicker,'' the late trumpeter once said.

Top-Grossing Films In the US, April 21-23

(Preliminary figures)

1. ''While You Were Sleeping,'' $9.5 million

2. ''Bad Boys,'' $7.2 million

3. ''Kiss of Death,'' 5.6 million

4. ''Rob Roy,'' $5.1 million

5. ''A Goofy Movie,'' $4.6 million

6. ''Jury Duty,'' $3.1 million

7. ''Tommy Boy,'' $2.6 million

8. ''Don Juan DeMarco,'' $2.5 million

9. ''Circle of Friends,'' $1.8 million

10. ''Outbreak,'' $1.7 million

Associated Press

''We should be extremely cautious in using this incident to rush legislation through ... that might take us back to Vietnam and civil rights days.'' - Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, on antiterrorism efforts

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