News In Brief

The US

The Senate budget committee was to unveil May 9 its plan for balancing the budget by 2002. The House budget committee was to follow suit . The GOP-controlled committees were expected to approve their measures later in the week. Both plans rely heavily on forcing savings in Medicare, Medicaid, and other benefit programs. The House bill includes a $189 billion tax cut over five years. The Senate version omits tax cuts for now, but they were expected to be inserted when the bill reaches the Senate floor. (Story, Page 1.)

GOP Congressman Thomas of California, chairman of the House Ways and Means health subcommittee, said the Medicare eligibility age should be raised in the next century to correspond to that of Social Security, which will rise two months a year starting in 2003 until it hits age 67 in 2027.

US productivity rose at a 0.7 percent annual rate from January through March, the slowest advance in a year. Unit labor costs, a key measure of inflation, rose 3.4 percent, hitting a two-year high. The Labor Department also revised its productivity figure for the final three months of 1994 from a 1.7 percent rate gain to a 4 percent increase, pushing productivity for all of 1994 up to 2.3 percent. Wholesale inventories increased 1.2 percent in March to a seasonally adjusted $243.2 billion, the Commerce Department said.

Israeli Prime Minister Rabin said in Washington his nation will not get involved in the US political debate about moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Syria criticized the proposal, which is championed by Senator Dole, a GOP presidential candidate. US presidents have not backed such a move because Jerusalem, sacred for Jews, Muslims, and Christians, plays a key role in ongoing peace negotiations.

The Senate was to vote on a twice-scaled-back bill to limit product-liability laws, designed to reduce the number of civil lawsuits. Under the latest compromise, the bill would limit punitive damages by juries but let judges override those limits.

A 22-second surveillance tape puts Timothy McVeigh at the scene of the Oklahoma City bombing in the rented Ryder truck, NBC reported. A new attorney was appointed for McVeigh after two others had asked to be removed. Investigators are reportedly moving to the ''second and third tiers'' of people who may have had contact with McVeigh.

Transportation Secretary Pena defended the federal speed-limit law. A Senate subcommittee last week voted to amend the Highway System bill to end the speed-limit law, and amendments to drop the seat-belt and motorcycle-helmet requirements are under discussion. Pena said all such changes would mean thousands of additional deaths and injuries on the nation's highways. (Story, Page 3.)

Washington Governor Lowry signed three bills that effectively repealed the state's recent liberal health-care law. He said he took the step because Congress last year refused to make all employers pay half the cost of workers' health insurance. He said a strong business lobby was behind the move in Congress.

The Senate voted 98-0 to approve John Deutch as the new director of the CIA.

Large parts of southeastern Louisiana were flooded May 9. As much as 18 inches of rain fell, and more was predicted.

Simpson jurors spent a day hearing about the basics of DNA from Robin Cotton, the prosecution's first witness on the technical but key topic. The prosecution hopes to prove in later testimony that the genetic blueprint in blood samples at the scene of the June 12 murders of Simpson's ex-wife and a friend match the blueprint of Simpson's blood.

The World

Russian President Yeltsin and US President Clinton will sit down May 10 for one of the toughest summits since the cold war. Both sides have played down expectations. Clinton will try to persuade Yeltsin to drop a $1 billion plan to sell nuclear reactors to Tehran. Russia has pledged not to help Iran develop weapons but has refused to bow to pressure to scrap the deal. Officials say the best the US can hope for is that Yeltsin will order a review of its contract with Iran.

At a Red Square parade marking the end of the war in Europe, Yeltsin praised the courage and wisdom of the Soviet Union's World War II Allies in defeating Nazi Germany. Yeltsin then presided over a massive show of Russian military might at Poklonnaya Gora, a new war memorial in western Moscow. Western leaders boycotted the second parade to express their displeasure over fighting in Chechnya. (Story, Page 1.) Russian troops in Grozny staged a small parade May 9, but their celebration was muted by persistent fighting. Rebel leaders renewed pledges to drive out Russian forces.

Emboldened by a weak UN response to a mortar attack on a Sarajevo suburb, Serbs hit government positions with tanks for the first time in more than a year. The tank attack was in violation of the weapons-exclusion zone around Sarajevo. It followed a refusal by UN officials to authorize NATO airstrikes. The UN admitted it could do nothing to prevent Bosnian Serbs from shelling Sarajevo again.

Israel freed Palestinian prisoners in a goodwill gesture, but PLO officials said the releases fell short of what was promised. About 250 Palestinians were freed May 8, and 150 more were to be released later in the week. Jordan, meanwhile, warned Israel that it will take action affecting bilateral relations if Israel goes ahead with plans to confiscate land in Arab East Jerusalem.

Iran may respond to a US trade embargo by banning American goods, an Iranian parliament member said. He said the issue would be debated in the national assembly the week of May 15. Thousands of Iranian students burned an American flag in front of the former US embassy in Tehran to protest the embargo.

Police seized a suspected weapons-making facility belonging to the sect being investigated in Tokyo's nerve-gas attack. About 200 police searched the sect's main compound, as bulldozers dug for hidden evidence. There was still no sign of the group's leader, Shoko Asahara.

The wives of two American prisoners arrested in Baghdad said they planned to leave Iraq after receiving no response to their request to meet with Saddam Hussein. Linda Barloon and Kathy Daliberti had hoped to appeal for their husband's freedom.

Nicaragua's Supreme Court ruled that a constitution published on Feb. 24 by the National Assembly was ''without value or effect'' -- a ruling that would vindicate President Chamorro's refusal to accept the document. Congressional leaders immediately rejected the ruling.

In the highly publicized David Milgaard case in Canada, a defamation suit was filed against Saskatchewan Justice Minister Robert Mitchell. Milgaard, freed from prison in 1992 after 23 years, had his rape and murder conviction set aside by the Federal Justice Minister. But in January, Mitchell told a Toronto newspaper, ''I think he was properly convicted. I think he did it.'' Milgaard said Mitchell's statement labels him ''forever as a murderer.'' Milgaard also said DNA tests will prove his innocence.

Government and labor unions agreed on a pension-system rescue plan requiring Italians to work more years. It also replaces fixed payments with ones based on a worker's contribution.

Etcetera

Electric cars might cause more environmental harm than good, a report in the New York Times suggested. The batteries that power the cars are the problem. Carnegie Mellon University researchers found that emissions from mining, smelting, and recycling the lead needed for the batteries pose an ecological threat.

London launched ambitious plans to revive the River Thames, boosting its potential for water sports, tourism, culture, and water-transport facilities. Four London boroughs united in the project to help ensure bankside developers do not ''turn their backs on the river.''

Archaeologists excavating an ancient city near the Sea of Galilee uncovered a 4,500-year-old water conduit, the oldest such tunnel found in Israel. Built of basalt, it apparently brought fresh water to Beit Yera in the early Bronze Age, the Antiquities Authority said.

Would you let a llama carry your golf clubs? Bruce Brage hopes golfers will be intrigued by his novel caddies and try his golf course in Miesville, Minn. The course opens in July.

Unlisted Numbers in US

Cities with highest percentage of households with unlisted phone numbers in 1994.

Jersey City, N. J. 48.0%

Tacoma, Wash. 44.5

Portland, Ore. 44.1

Detroit 41.1

Tucson, Ariz. 39.8

Honolulu 39.7

El Paso, Texas 39.3

Phoenix/Mesa 37.8

Chicago 37.7

San Antonio 37.6

Miami 37.4

Seattle/Bellevue/Everett 37.3

Houston 35.9

Denver 35.8

Newark, N. J . 34.6

New York 34.5

Albuquerque, N. M. 33.8

Philadelphia 33.6

Gary, Ind. 32.5

Survey Sampling Inc.

''If we are wise, Europe stands today on the threshold of a new age of reason. We have before us new possibilities of peace, freedom, and friendship that we have never had before.''

British Prime Minister John Major

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