News In Brief

By , Shelby Siems, and Peter E. Nordahl

The US

With a 231-203 House majority, Republicans said they were assured of having enough votes to pass a balanced-budget plan, scheduled for a vote yesterday. Senate Republicans readied their own budget plan for floor debate beginning yesterday. Final passage is expected next week. In contrast to the House plan, the Senate measure contains a softer commitment to a tax cut.

President Clinton threatened to veto a $16.4 billion spending-cuts bill that a House-Senate conference approved this week. House Republicans will go forward with action on the bill, even though they acknowledge they don't have enough support to override a veto. (Story, Page 1.)

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Senators Kerrey and Simpson said they would propose a package of bills aimed at curbing the growth of entitlement spending such as Social Security. At the same time, the package would reign in congressional and federal government plans.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a GOP plan to cut back three foreign-policy agencies and fold them into the State Department. Under the bill, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, the Agency for International Development, and the US Information Agency would be eliminated.

Clinton said he was confident Commerce Secretary Brown would be cleared of any wrongdoing and wanted him to stay on in his Cabinet. Attorney General Reno earlier recommended that an independent counsel investigate Brown's business dealings and personal finances. A federal panel was expected to accept Reno's recommendation.

Republicans are putting $500 million in a defense bill as a down payment on 20 more B-2 stealth bombers, even though the Pentagon has said no more of the radar-evading planes are needed. The bill is scheduled for a House vote next Wednesday.

Federal Reserve Board chairman Greenspan defended new rules designed to encourage community banks to make loans to low- and moderate-income borrowers. He said the rules reduce the paperwork burden required by banks under the Community Reinvestment Act. A House Banking subcommittee was to hold hearings on the issue yesterday.

The National Rifle Association apologized for a fund-raising letter describing some federal agents as ''jack-booted thugs,'' saying it intended to criticize isolated actions. NRA officials are gathering in Phoenix for the organization's annual meeting.

A preliminary hearing was set for yesterday in Oklahoma City for bombing suspect Terry Nichols. Officials said the federal building will be demolished on Tuesday. Bombing suspect Timothy McVeigh's attorney and defense investigators will be allowed to inspect the ruins until midnight Sunday. The city plans to save granite panels from the building for use in memorials.

Eighty-three percent of Americans oppose private armed militia groups thrust into the spotlight after the Oklahoma City bombing, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll.

An unprecedented revolt in the country's troubled labor movement has escalated, with five more unions joining dissidents who say they now have enough votes to topple longtime AFL-CIO President Lane Kirkland. The membership of the five new unions brings to about 7 million the potential votes to oust Kirkland, a dissident spokesman said. The AFL-CIO refutes this.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it has fired or suspended six inspectors and a dozen private examiners over the issuing of falsified pilot-rating certificates. None of the faked ratings was used to fly in commercial service, the FAA said.

Seventy-five years ago, Congress set aside 200,000 acres in Hawaii to provide homesteads for native Hawaiians but provided no money for the Hawaiian Home Land Trust to develop the land. State governors grabbed it for public uses. Now, the Hawaii Legislature has committed $600 million to compensate for misuse or wrongful sale of 39,000 acres.

The World

Palestinians yesterday strongly condemned the US veto of a UN Security Council resolution on Israel's land confiscation in Arab East Jerusalem as a contradiction of the Israel-PLO peace deal and international accords. The veto makes it nearly certain an Arab summit will be held this month; but militant Muslim leaders are raising the possibility of a violent response. Israel, meanwhile, is worried about Iran's efforts to develop a nuclear capability despite a US-Russian deal under which Moscow agreed not to supply a gas centrifuge to Tehran.

The UN Security Council demanded that Croatia and rebel Serbs withdraw immediately from UN buffer zones and warned of action if they did not. Croatia had promised to withdraw by last Tuesday. UN Secretary-General Bhoutros-Ghali said he will submit a report this week on redeployment and reduction in peacekeeping troops in the region. In Sarajevo, one person was killed and at least six others were wounded in shelling. A Roman Catholic church was blown up after the priest and two nuns were beaten in a Croatian village.

Japanese sect leader Shoko Asahara said he wasn't aware of everything his followers did. He is being charged with masterminding the March 20 nerve-gas attack on Tokyo's subway. Police believe his Aum Shinri Kyo cult hatched the plot two years ago to back up its prophecy of a doomsday end to the world.

Japan's trade surplus narrowed 2 percent from a year earlier to $10.88 billion in April, but economists said the pace was still too slow to ease tensions with major trading partners. The surplus with the US expanded, rising 3 percent to $4.52 billion.

German Foreign Minister Kinkel, whose centrist Free Democrats have withered under his leadership, announced yesterday he would step down as party chief in June but would keep his Cabinet post.

About 4,000 South Korean students clashed with police who used tear gas to break up a sit-in yesterday in Seoul. The demonstration marked the 15th anniversary of a bloody crackdown on a pro-democracy uprising in Kwangju. South Korean union leaders, meanwhile, threatened to bring the Hyundai conglomerate to its knees if police intervened in a strike at an auto plant. Union leaders are protesting work stoppages stemming from a discord over a suicide attempt by a dismissed worker.

Supporters of Indian Premier Rao appealed to the widow of slain former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to help heal a split in the Congress Party. The meeting came soon after Rao averted proposed budget amendments by a leading rebel which, if adopted, could have toppled his government. Dissidents called a rally for today in the Indian capital.

Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Taiwan yesterday joined Thailand, the Philippines, Belgium, Egypt, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Canada, the US, and Yemen in drawing up at least some measures to monitor people arriving from Africa (Zaire in particular) as a precaution against the Ebola virus. The death toll from the virus now stands at 87 in Zaire.

NATO wants Greece and Turkey to settle a dispute undermining efforts to strengthen the group's vital southern flank. The dispute involves stationing and operating two new NATO military commands and has led Ankara to block NATO's military budget. In Greece, a garbage strike entered its third day.

Nick Leeson, the trader blamed for bringing down Barings Bank, lost his bid to be freed on bail from a German jail yesterday.

Etcetera

It rained indoors at the trouble-prone Denver International Airport this week. A spring storm sent people scrambling as hail boomed on the terminal's tentlike roof. Maintenance crews put out plastic buckets to catch the drips.

United Airlines took delivery of the first Boeing 777 to enter service. United is making the widebody the centerpiece of a fleet upgrade. It has ordered 34 with options on 34 more. The first 777 flight is set for June 7.

Mercedes-Benz and the makers of Swatch watches have decided to call their jointly produced subcompact city car Smart. The auto goes into production in October 1997 in France and will sell for $10,300 to $13,800.

An effort to put a long-standing conspiracy theory to rest is now before a court in Baltimore. Historians and descendants of John Wilkes Booth, the man accused of killing Abraham Lincoln, are asking a judge for permission to open Booth's tomb. The group wants to see if the body there really is Booth's.

Top 10 TV Shows, May 8-14

Rank/Show/Network/Rating

1. ''ER,'' NBC, 22.9, 21.8 million homes

2. ''Friends,'' NBC, 19.7, 18.8 million homes

3. ''Seinfeld,'' NBC, 18.4, 17.6 million homes

4. ''ABC Sunday Night Movie: The Langoliers, Pt. I,'' ABC, 18.3, 17.5 million homes

5. ''Home Improvement,'' ABC, 17.6, 16.8 million homes

6. ''NBC Sunday Night Movie: Naomi & Wynonna: Love Can Build a Bridge, Pt. I,'' NBC, 16.5, 15.7 million homes

7. ''NYPD Blue,'' ABC, 15.9, 15.2 million homes

8. ''NBC Monday Night Movie: Robin Cook's 'Virus,''' NBC, 15.4, 14.7 million homes

8. ''Ellen,'' ABC, 15.4, 14.7 million homes

10. ''Grace Under Fire,'' ABC, 13.9, 13.3 million homes

(Rating equals percentage of American homes with TVs.)

A.C. Nielsen Co.

''I have waited for this my entire adult life -- the opportunity to save the future for our children.'' -- House minority whip Tom DeLay on the GOP blueprint to balance the budget

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