News In Brief

THE US

Steven Colbern, a fugitive gun enthusiast, was ordered held without bond on charges stemming from an old federal firearms case and from a scuffle with agents. The hearing didn't touch on a connection to the Oklahoma City bombing. An inquiry has led authorities to conclude that Colbern likely had no role in the attack, the New York Times reported. Colbern told investigators he knew Timothy McVeigh, one of two bombing suspects charged so far, under the alias of Tim Tuttle, several newspapers said, citing unidentified sources. Demolition experts, meanwhile, said they plan to implode the Alfred P. Murrah federal building late this week.

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Congressional Republicans lashed back at Democrats, accusing them of ''fear mongering'' in their attacks on GOP plans to balance the federal budget by 2002. The Senate Budget Committee earlier approved a stringent spending plan that would cut $1 trillion in spending. A House-passed plan would make between $1.1 trillion and $1.4 trillion in cuts. House majority whip DeLay used the GOP response to President Clinton's weekly radio address to push the House measure, which is scheduled for debate this week. (Story, Page 1.)

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Seven candidates for the GOP presidential nomination laid out their platforms before 5,000 people in Denver over the weekend. They criticized Clinton for failing to negotiate an end to Russia's proposed nuclear sale to Iran and his handling of terrorism fears after the Oklahoma City bombing. They called for stronger moral values, blaming a rise in crime on the breakdown of the family. The candidates sounded familiar themes of balancing the federal budget and reducing government.

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Clinton said he was tired of ''hitting a brick wall'' in trying to open Japanese markets to American autos and promised to press ahead with proposed sanctions against Tokyo. The US trade deficit with Japan hit a record $66 billion last year, and administration officials say the imbalance was largely due to the closed Japanese auto market. The US Coast Guard, meanwhile, said it seized two Japanese fishing boats in the Pacific Ocean for illegal fishing in US waters and was escorting them to Guam.

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Congressional and administration officials said CIA Director Deutch will replace the only woman ever to serve as the agency's chief lawyer. Deutch also reportedly plans to name a new executive director and head of the Directorate of Operations, which is responsible for the agency's spy operations. Deutch's predecessor, James Woolsey, was criticized for failing to clean house after the Aldrich Ames spy scandal.

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A military court found a US Army officer guilty of disobeying orders by leaving his post to make an unauthorized search of a Haitian penitentiary he suspected violated the human rights of political prisoners. The military panel was to meet again yesterday to determine Capt. Lawrence Rockwood's sentence.

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Immigration officials said 62 Cubans arrived at Miami International Airport last week without papers and applied for asylum in the US. The spurt of refugees -- a record, according to officials -- follows a change in US policy announced May 2. Under the new policy, Cubans plucked from the sea will be repatriated. It's unclear what will happen to the refugees who came by plane.

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A Harvard professor hired by the Justice Department to evaluate the raid and siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, two years ago, told CBS news that the raid was an incompetent provocation. Attorney General Reno also told CBS that she would not handle the raid the same way again.

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Leaders from most major religious faiths plan to ask the government to ban the current patenting practices for genetic engineering, the New York Times reported. The appeal will be made in a joint statement signed by Roman Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists, the paper said.

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Severe Thunderstorms continued across the Midwest, as tornadoes hit Kansas and Indiana.

THE WORLD

Croatia began pulling out troops from a United Nations-patrolled buffer zone in southern Croatia, but tensions remained high as rebel Serbs crept in after the troops. The armies went after each other across the border in Bosnia. All Croatian soldiers were due to be removed from the buffer zone by yesterday, and from other UN-patrolled areas separating Croat and Serb front lines in an unspecified time. A UN spokesman said there was a growing view that the Bosnian operation was becoming untenable.

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Argentine President Menem sought a second term from voters in national elections held yesterday. Although admissions of military torture and killings during the ''dirty war'' have shaken the nation, fear of change may secure reelection for Menem, who has slashed inflation from 5,000 percent in 1989 to less than 4 percent last year.

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Election officials confirmed irregularities yesterday in Marcos family strongholds, and Imelda Marcos, wife of the late dictator, warned of a ''national disaster'' if she and her son, Ferdinand Jr., were denied congressional seats. She crowned herself winner yesterday, but officials suspended her call. Eighty-two percent of precincts reported that President Ramos's candidates were leading in nine of 12 contested Senate seats.

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Russian forces pounded villages in southern Chechnya yesterday in a bid to break into the mountains where rebels have set up guerrilla units. The road running south from Grozny was blocked as Russian tanks attacked two villages en route to rebel-held Shatoi.

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Foreign Minister Peres said yesterday Israel would proceed with a land seizure of 131 acres in Arab East Jerusalem. But a Palestine official warned that the plan to build Jewish housing on the land would destroy peace moves, and the Arab League said it may hold a summit over the plans.

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Just as police neared the end of their investigation into Tokyo's poison-gas attacks yesterday, an airport bomb and a mystery balloon barrage added new bafflement to Japan's dangerous year. But there was no indication the incidents, which caused no injuries, were linked to doomsday prophet Asahara's Aum Shinri Kyo, leader of the Supreme Truth Sect and the believed mastermind of the March 20 sarin nerve-gas attack on Tokyo's subway.

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NATO Secretary-General Willy Claes was questioned Saturday by Belgium's highest court in connection with the nation's largest corruption scandal, which led to resignation of four ministers since January 1994. The questioning came a week before election of a new NATO chief.

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The World Health Organization said it was confident that the Ebola virus, which is believed to have killed at least 57 people in Zaire, can be contained.

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A senior UN official arrived in Baghdad yesterday to investigate suspicions that Iraq may have hidden material to make chemical weapons. Iraq denied the charge. Iran's top nuclear official, meanwhile, told the New York Times his nation will build 10 nuclear power plants over the next two decades. But he denied US claims that Iran plans to develop nuclear weapons.

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Indian rebels and government negotiators said progress had been made on troop placement and security issues in Chiapas during talks held Saturday. Officials from 11 US and Mexican states signed an agreement to expand cooperation in economic, cultural, and environmental areas. Mexico's top banks, meanwhile, will auction up to 10,000 properties worth more than $1 billion. Mexican officials also asked the US State Department to approve a loan of 81,000 acre-feet of water from the Rio Grande to alleviate drought conditions plaguing Mexico's northern border. Texas Governor Bush said he opposes the idea.

ETCETERA

We don't want a trade conflict with Japan, but we won't hesitate to fight for a fair shake for American products.''

-- President Clinton

Euphoric New Zealanders staged a nationwide party yesterday to celebrate their yacht's stunning 5-0 sweep in the America's Cup finals off San Diego. The Kiwis' Black Magic 1 dashed to the finish line well ahead of Young America, skippered by Dennis Conner.

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Four years behind schedule and at double the estimated cost, the Federal Triangle Project finally is taking form. The 400,000-square-foot colossus on Pennsylvania Avenue, two blocks from the White House, will be the largest government structure since the Pentagon was built in World War II.

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Queen Elizabeth II has slipped sharply in this year's Sunday Times list of Britain's richest 500. The London paper did not count the nation's art collection as belonging to queen. This change left her with a modest $706.5 million, compared with $7.85 billion a year ago.

Top US Defense Firms

(For fiscal year 1994, based on 1993 contract totals.)

1. McDonnell Douglas Corp. $9.2 billion

2. Lockheed Corp. $6.5 billion

3. Northrop Grumman Corp. $5.2 billion

4. Martin Marietta Corp. $3.1 billion

5. General Motors Corp. $3.0 billion

6. General Dynamics Corp. $2.7 billion

7. Raytheon Corp. $2.7 billion

8. General Electric Co. $2.7 billion

9. United Technologies Corp. $2.7 billion

10. Loral Corp. $1.6 billion

US Defense Department

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