News In Brief

THE US

Families of the 164 people killed in the Oklahoma City bombing paid tribute to their relatives over the weekend at the scene of the April 19 blast. Investigators have recovered about half of the Ryder truck that carried the 4,800 pound bomb, the Dallas Morning News reported. Officials estimate it took just 2.2 minutes for the the bomb to explode once the fuse was ignited. Investigators, meanwhile, are reportedly looking into the finances of bombing suspect Timothy McVeigh. They say he chalked up large expenses on a cross-country trip that ended with his arrest in Oklahoma.

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A Democratic fund-raising letter accusing House Speaker Gingrich of embracing terrorist policies was ''unfortunate and inappropriate,'' a spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said. The letter referred to Gingrich as ''one of the most dangerous figures to emerge in American politics during our lifetime.'' Gingrich denounced the letter and demanded an apology.

*

Top House Republicans predicted passage of a plan to balance the budget by 2002, but GOP lawmakers remain at odds over what savings the package will contain. GOP House members ended a three-day strategy retreat Friday, where leaders presented a blueprint for eliminating the deficit in seven years. It included savings from Medicare and Medicaid, elimination of three Cabinet departments, and the closing of numerous tax loopholes. The House Budget Committee is expected to debate the bill Wednesday.

*

In Dallas, history was made as Ron Kirk became the first black to be elected mayor of any major city in the state. Kirk, a former Texas secretary of state, received 62 percent of the votes cast. Authorities in Texas say one, and possibly two, tornadoes hit a rural area near Amarillo. The storms killed at least one person and injured nine others. At least 15 people were killed by a hail storm and flash floods in Dallas on Saturday. Three people were still missing. About 100 people were injured in a storm that pummeled north Texas on Friday night.

*

In his weekly radio address, Clinton called for increased vigilance against illegal aliens at US borders, in the workplace, and in the criminal-justice system. The administration wants to triple the number of deportations from the current 40,000 a year. Last week Clinton sent legislation to Congress that would increase border-patrol agents and inspectors, expand work-site verification of immigrants' employment status, and streamline deportations.

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California Governor Wilson accused anonymous enemies of disclosing that he hired an illegal immigrant maid in 1978. Wilson, who plans to announce this month that he will seek the GOP nomination for president, ran for reelection last year on a platform of denying education and welfare to illegal immigrants.

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Senator Helms is turning his frequent criticism of the UN into legislation to end US participation in various UN-affiliated activities, the Washington Post reported. For example, Helms suggests severing ties with the International Labor Organization, the paper said. The US currently pays $64.3 million annually for participation in ILO.

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Secretary of State Christopher plans to eliminate 500 State Department jobs, the New York Times reported. Christopher wants to head off even deeper staff cuts being proposed by members of Congress such as Senator Helms, the paper said.

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The US Coast Guard ferried 13 refugees back toward Cuba, as angry Cuban exiles planned civil disobedience to protest the reversal of 35 years of US refugee policy. Secretary of State Christopher denied the administration was moving toward recognition of President Castro's government in Cuba.

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The widow of Malcolm X buried 30 years of anger over the weekend, blessing Louis Farrakhan during a rally in Harlem. Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, shook Betty Shabazz's hand and, in a speech, again denied any involvement in the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X.

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A black police sergeant filed a lawsuit claiming he was subjected to racial slurs and discrimination during his 21 years with the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPD said it couldn't comment on the litigation.

THE WORLD

Serbs shelled three areas in Bosnia and fired on UN aid convoys, evidently in retaliation for the Croatian attack on Serbs last week. In Bihac, a UN-designated ''safe area,'' an elderly woman and a teenage girl were injured; in Banja Luka, a Roman Catholic monk was killed when Serbs bombed a monastery and set a church on fire; and in a Sarajevo suburb, eight people were killed. Serbs reportedly evacuated civilians from villages along Croatia's border with Serbia and brought in heavy tanks in preparation for a major offensive. The UN has not verified this report.

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Chief Chechen spokesman Udugov said rebel fighters destroyed three Russian posts in Grozny districts, but the Russian military denied the report. The Interfax news agency quoted a spokesman for Russian forces in Chechnya as saying the rebels were trying to undermine the V-E Day celebrations May 9, when more than 50 world leaders are due to gather in Moscow. Russian military commanders say Chechens plan a major attack on Grozny May 9.

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President Clinton was to travel to Moscow today to meet with Russian President Yeltsin to celebrate V-E Day. He intends to tell Yeltsin that Moscow's military drive in Chechnya threatens Russia's goal of joining Western economic institutions. US Senator Nunn warned that Russia may be looking to its nuclear arms as the keystone to its defense.

*

Leaders from 54 nations that fought in World War II joined in prayers for reconciliation yesterday in St. Paul's Cathedral in London, a structure that still shows scars of German bombing. German Chancellor Kohl attended the service while his countrymen marked the day in Berlin with signs of relief that the season of painful anniversaries was nearly over. In Luebeck, Germany, arsonists set fire to part of a synagogue firebombed last year.

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Palestinian leader Arafat warned that Israel's plans to confiscate land in East Jerusalem is ''very dangerous,'' while the Arab League asked the UN Security Council to intervene on the issue. Israeli cabinet ministers reacted coolly to US Senator Dole's idea of legislation to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, hinting that such a step could harm the peace process.

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Clinton's National Economic Council met in Washington over the weekend to consider retaliatory steps against Japan, after US-Japan talks to expand sales of US autos and auto parts in Japan failed. Up to $1 billion in Japanese goods could be hit with tariffs, the largest such case in US history.

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The wives of two Americans held in Iraq appealed to Clinton for help in freeing their husbands. Secretary of State Christopher said Baghdad was to blame for inaction.

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John Major's Conservative Party was nearly obliterated in local elections last week, reduced to controlling a handful of town halls in England and routed in Wales. The left-of-center Labor party had its best showing in 30 years. Speculation increased that dissident Conservatives will challenge Major's leadership.

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Conservative Chirac was favored to win France's presidential election in the runoff vote yesterday, but at press time, Socialist Jospin appeared to have narrowed the gap considerably. Twenty percent of voters were undecided a week ago.

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Canada said it recovered an illegal-sized trawl net full of dead Greenland halibut that a Spanish fishing vessel released into the seas off Newfoundland.

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Peace appeared closer in Angola after Angolan President dos Santos and UNITA leader Savimbi met Saturday and declared they now favor power-sharing.

ETCETERA

It is wrong, and ultimately self-defeating, for a nation of immigrants to permit the kind of abuse of our immigration laws we have seen in recent years.''

-- President Clinton on efforts to increase deportations of illegal aliens

Tajikistan's president said the Central Asian nation will introduce its own Tajik ruble on Wednesday. President Rakhmonov said the new currency will bolster his country, which has been torn by civil war and economic stagnation since winning independence in 1991.

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Team New Zealand showed good speed and flawless tactics to pull away to an impressive victory over the defending US yacht in the first race of the America's Cup final Saturday. The second race in the best-of-nine series for yachting's greatest prize is scheduled for today.

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For the first time a team from China has reached the North Pole. The group of seven scientists arrived at the pole Saturday.

Top 15 Big-Ticket Items On Americans' Wish Lists

(Intended purchases over $2,500 for 1995 )

1. Long vacation outside US

2. New home

3. New vehicle

4. Home furnishings

5. Remodeled kitchen

6. New boat

7. High-end home electronics

8. Personal investments (brokered)

9. Vacation home

10. Buy/expand/start business

11. Used vehicle for household

12. Addition to current house

13. In-home computer

14. Piano (acoustical)

15. Motorcycle (Harley)

-- CNW Marketing/Research

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