News In Brief

By , David Mutch, and Peter E. Nordahl

The US

Cordiality and restraint reigned as President Clinton and House Speaker Gingrich debated the fate of the nation in the backyard of a senior-citizens center in Claremont, N.H. They agreed immediately on an audience member's suggestion that a bipartisan commission be set up to curb the power of special interests. An ABC poll showed that two-thirds of Americans think Gingrich - who denies he will run for the presidency despite his New Hampshire visit - is temperamentally unsuited for the job. He went on the defensive about Medicare cuts when Clinton said he would cut the program less than the Republicans by cutting taxes less. (Story, Page 3.)

Clinton is working on a plan to balance the budget within 10 years, but without some of the spending cuts or the $350 billion tax cut included in the GOP plan, White House chief-of-staff Panetta said. The Clinton plan would provide more money for education and Medicare. Panetta said Gingrich's threat to block spending legislation needed to keep the federal government running when the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1 is "a terrible signal to the world market."

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A Newsweek poll said Senator Dole would beat Clinton 49 percent to 40 percent if a vote were held today. Dole said he is a "known quantity," but admitted Clinton would be a tough opponent.

The Supreme Court ruled that Congress is limited by the same strict standards as states in offering special help to minorities, a potentially crippling blow to affirmative-action programs. The splintered, complex 5-4 vote in a Colorado case stopped short of striking down a federal program offering help to small businesses owned by racial and ethnic minorities.The high court also said court-ordered school desegregation does not have to be maintained until student test scores reach national norms. And it rejected the appeals of 18 current and former National Football League players who say they wrongly were forced to join a $200 million settlement in 1993 of an antitrust lawsuit against the league and its 28 teams. (Story, Page 1.)

Talk of a 17-percent, flat-rate income tax is spooking the municipal-bond market, which has been performing poorly compared with Treasury bonds. Analysts said "munis" would not be such a rare tax-exempt option if a flat tax were to prevail.

Lotus Development Corp. agreed to a friendly takeover by IBM for $3.52 billion, about $220 million more than IBM's initial offer. Under the deal, Lotus CEO Jim Manzi will stay on and the firm's autonomy will be preserved. IBM offered an updated mainframe line of its large computers only nine months after the last update.

The Senate may vote tonight on a sweeping telecommunications reform bill. The White House opposes the Senate bill, saying it would lead to higher cable TV and telephone rates. The bill includes complex cable-deregulation and merger provisions. (Story, Page 3.)

Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan said the chance of a severe inventory recession in the US has gone down dramatically, based on May producer prices. The Agriculture Department lowered its forecasts for the winter wheat crop and the corn crop. Prices for both were expected to rise as a result.

Bankrupt Orange County will ask investors this week to look beyond its financial crisis and buy $295 million of new county bonds.

Labor leaders who sought to oust AFL-CIO President Kirkland said they will promote a slate of opposition candidates to lead the union, despite Kirkland's plan to hand control over to an ally when he retires. A source said Secretary-Treasurer Thomas Donahue, Kirkland's choice for the presidency, will declare his candidacy.

A federal judge ruled that the settlement offered to a group of women who brought a sex-discrimination lawsuit against the CIA is fair. The judge ordered the women to accept the settlement. They are considering an appeal.

Scientists say they have found evidence of helium gas formed in the Big Bang. The gas was identified more than 9 billion miles from Earth in readings from an ultraviolet telescope mounted in a space shuttle. The finding is thought to help confirm part of the Big Bang theory.

The World

A spokeswoman said French President Chirac has received assurances from Serbia's president that the remaining UN hostages in Bosnia will be released soon. Meanwhile, fighting increased on several fronts. An intelligence source said the Pentagon had "tentative indications" that a Bosnian Serb antiaircraft missile unit was active shortly before pilot Scott O'Grady was shot down, but it doubted the exact location. UN trucks escorted by armored personnel vehicles defied Serb threats and guns, taking a risky route into Sarajevo to replenish exhausted flour stocks. (Story, Page 1.)

Palestinian leader Arafat met Egyptian President Mubarak yesterday to express concern over Israel's plan for a two-phase withdrawal from the West Bank ahead of planned Palestinian elections. Palestinian officials said Arafat wanted full agreement on two stages of redeployment by July 1. Syria rejected an Israeli offer to trade part of the Golan Heights in exchange for full relations. Syria wants Israel to commit itself to a clear timetable for withdrawal.

The US formally rejected the EU's request to take part in consultations with Tokyo aimed at breaking down barriers to Japan's domestic car market. US Secretary of State Christopher will hold emergency talks with Japan's foreign minister this week on the effect of the trade dispute on their countries' ties. Two days of technical talks between the US and Japan began yesterday.

Japan's largest opposition party submitted a no-confidence motion in parliament yesterday after the ruling coalition, acting in its absence, passed a statement of remorse for World War II. If the motion passes, Prime Minister Murayama would either have to dissolve the lower house for new elections or resign with his Cabinet. Meanwhile, the new mayor of Nagasaki, Japan, denounced President Clinton and other US leaders yesterday for defending America's use of atomic weapons in World War II. The remarks set a combative tone for the opening of a five-day, UN-sponsored conference on disarmament in Nagasaki.

Chief US negotiator Thomas Hubbard said the US and communist North Korea had reached a general agreement on implementing a landmark deal to curb Pyongyang's nuclear program.

Russian forces reportedly were bearing down on the Chechen rebels' last command headquarters. Russian troops advanced near the village of Satoi in the mountains south of Grozny and hoped to capture it today, Interfax news agency said.

Mexico's government envoys and Zapatista rebel leaders ended five days of peace talks as far apart as ever on how to end a 17-month uprising in the southern state of Chiapas. The two sides agreed to meet again July 4 but admitted they had little to show from their talks so far.

Foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other Gulf countries rejected an easing of UN sanctions against Iraq, saying Baghdad hasn't fulfilled the basic aspects of UN resolutions. The UN Security Council will review the sanctions this month.

Russia is threatening to end a three-year-old agreement to send 500 metric tons of weapons-grade uranium to the US in exchange for $12 billion in cash, the New York Times reported. The Senate Energy Committee is to hold a hearing today on the endangered agreement.

Three Colombian guerrilla groups reportedly have claimed responsibility for a bomb blast in Medellin that killed 29 people.

Powerful Somali warlord Mohamad Farah Aideed was ousted as chairman of his faction and replaced by his former right-hand man, members of the faction said yesterday.

Etcetera

Israeli Prime Minister Rabin, who spent three decades in the military, took on the demeanor of a boy in a toy shop when he toured the Paris International Air Show yesterday. Meanwhile, Airbus Industrie said it had received new orders at the show from Germany's Lufthansa and from Air Canada worth more than $1.5 billion.

Experts thought they had scrutinized every detail of the Babe Ruth statue at the entrance to Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore. But they missed one. The bronze, nine-foot, 800-pound Babe, unveiled last month, is leaning on a bat and holding a right-handed fielder's glove. The real Babe was a lefty.

Britain's "silver greyhounds," couriers who travel the world with secret documents chained to their wrists, are to be cut, Foreign Office officials phased out. The reason? Advances in fax machines.

The US general who commanded nuclear strike forces during the cold war nearly touched off an atomic war during the Cuban missile crisis, the New Yorker magazine reported. It said Gen. Curtis LeMay urged strikes against Cuban missile sites.

Ten Best Cities in the US For Children to Grow Up

1. Madison, Wis.

2. Burlington, Vt.

3. Stamford, Conn.

4. Fargo, N.D.

5. Lincoln, Neb.

6. Overland Park, Kan.

7. Sioux Falls, S.D.

8. Livonia, Mich.

9. Green Bay, Wis.

10. Virginia Beach, Va.

- Zero Population Growth

" Three hundred thousand people have been left homeless, jobless, and without any means for existence. They have all witnessed Russia's cruelty."

- Chechen leader Dzhokhar Dudayev

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