News In Brief

By , Abraham McLaughlin, and Peter Nordahl

The US

A House committee approved $9.3 billion in cuts for social programs - from $1 billion in low-income energy assistance to $200 million in Head Start to abolishing the surgeon general's post. Clinton administration officials threatened a veto. (Clinton strategy, Page 1.) Other targets include job training, worker safety, and aid to disadvantaged students. The total funding approved for the social-service departments - Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services - is approved for te social-serive departments - Labor, Education, and Health & Human Services - is $60.7 billion.

The House passed a $12 billion foreign-aid bill Tuesday. On a bipartisan vote, the chamber cut $1.6 billion from this year's aid budget and gave Clinton $2.8 billion less than he requested. The bill includes funds to protect children from the impact of cuts and increases disaster aid. Israel will receive $3 billion in aid, and Egypt will get $2 billion. Foreign aid makes up less than 1 percent of the total budget. The bill now moves to the Senate.

Recommended: Default

First Chicago Corp. and Detroit-based NBD Bancorp Inc. announced yesterday that they have agreed to merge in a stock deal worth $6.25 billion, the biggest bank merger in US history. The combined company, to be called First Chicago NBD Corp., will have $120 billion in assets and will be the seventh-largest bank holding company in the US. The deal was the latest in a string of bank ''megamergers,'' as financial institutes combine forces to attract more customers.

Health, safety, and environmental regulations will remain intact as a massive regulatory-reform bill moves toward Senate passage. GOP senators sought Democratic support yesterday by narrowing the scope of the reforms. Only regulations costing more than $100 million will be considered in the bill. The legislation requires federal agencies to conduct a cost-benefit analysis when deciding which regulations to pursue.

GOP lawmakers reacted indignantly yesterday to Clinton's move to establish full diplomatic ties with Vietnam. They accused him of betraying MIA families and bowing to pressure from corporate giants. A House Committee began hearings yesterday on the decision and may decide to block funds for an embassy in Hanoi. Clinton said he hoped Hanoi would continue to account for missing Americans, and Hanoi reaffirmed its intent to cooperate. (US Vietnamese community's reaction, Page 3)

Congress may remove the arms embargo against the Bosnian government as early as next week, Senator Dole said, calling it a ''moral issue.'' He blamed the UN for the Serb takeover on Tuesday of the Srebrenica ''safe zone.'' Despite Serb clashes with UN troops, meanwhile, the US has made no extra preparations for assisting in the withdrawal of UN peacekeepers, officials said.

Democratic Senators Boxer and Bryant argued that hearings on charges of unwanted sexual advancements by Oregon Senator Packwood should not be kept private. The Ethics Committee deliberated on the issue Tuesday.

The US should consider the possibility of trade sanctions, Speaker Gingrich said, if China refuses to cooperate on the issue of Harry Wu, a Chinese-American human rights activist arrested there for espionage. Wu's wife said she hopes Clinton realizes that the Chinese government ''only understands strength, not weakness.''

House Republicans abandoned their proposal to reinstate a federal program that would allow criminals to petition to have their gun rights restored. The bill, expected to be approved and sent to the full House, also would abolish Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers, cut the White House budget, and prohibit federal employee health insurance from paying for most abortions.

The Senate Commerce Committee was to hold a hearing yesterday on a proposal that would require broadcast and cable TV providers to air violent programs at times of the day when children are not likely to make up the majority of the audience. Broadcast and cable TV executives have repeatedly disputed claims that the number of acts of violence on television is increasing.

Doctors will no longer have to sign a time-consuming Medicare form, Vice President Gore announced. The move will save physicians 200,000 hours and hospitals $137 million annually, Gore said.

The World

Bosnian Serb forces moved into Potocari yesterday, seizing a Dutch base in the village. Dutch soldiers and about 40,000 mostly Muslim refugees sought refuge at the base after Serb troop overran the UN ''safe area'' of Srebrenica Tuesday. It was the first time Serbs have seized a safe area. The Serbs ordered the refugees evacuated to an unknown location, and began separating men from women and children. France would recapture Srebrenica if asked by the UN to do so, President Chirac said. Meanwhile, on Wednesday NATO ambassadors rejected the notion of a UN withdrawal from Bosnia. Serb forces are reportedly close to taking the town of Zepa, a safe area south of Srebrenica. (Story, Page 7.)

Israel and the PLO reached a tentative agreement on transferring civilian authority to Palestinians in the West Bank. The agreement deals with issues such as transferring agriculture, labor, and municipal government. The issue of water resources was tabled. The talks did not deal with security, Palestinian elections, and Israeli troop withdrawal from the West Bank. Jewish settlers have threatened to fire on Palestinian police if the troops are withdrawn.

Iraq was slapped with a 60-day extension of trade sanctions by the UN Security Council. The move was expected after Iraq admitted this month it produced anthrax and botulism as part of a biological weapons program.

A coalition backed by President Aristide took a commanding lead in Haiti's first round of legislative elections. Despite confusion at the polls, most monitors say the June 25 elections are a step toward consolidating democracy. (Story, Page 6.)

Hong Kong's largest pro-democracy party moved a vote of no confidence against Governor Patten. The Democratic Party was showing its anger over last month's Chinese-British agreement for a Court of Final Appeal for Hong Kong. Meanwhile, the colony continues to see educated professionals flee ahead of its transfer to China in 1997.

New Zealand may take France to the World Court in a bid to stop nuclear testing in the South Pacific. Australian and New Zealand politicians are also signing up to join an anti-nuclear protest flotilla to head to the test site the first week of September, when testing is to commence. Organizers hope about 80 politicians will hop aboard.

Russian President Yeltsin got some good news from the lower house of parliament. Lawmakers there fell 58 votes short of approving a measure to consider his impeachment. A Yeltsin spokesman said he is in good condition after being hospitalized earlier in the week.

Militants in Kashmir holding two Britons, an American, and a German captive, have given the Indian government until July 15 to release 20 guerrilla leaders detained during the five-year separatist insurgency in Kashmir. A Norwegian missing since Saturday is also believed to have been abducted. Another American, John Childs, escaped.

The first round of talks between the Pakistan government and ethnic militants waging a violent insurgency in the southern city of Karachi ended Tuesday with no sign of a breakthrough. The talks are the government's first direct contact with the rebel Mohajir Qaumi Movement in six months. The two sides have agreed to meet again today.

Two gunmen burst into a Paris mosque Tuesday and killed Sheikh Abdel-Baki Saharaoui, co-founder of Algeria's Islamic Salvation Front. His name was on the hit list of a rival group, according to a French television station.

Etcetera

Steffi Graf, the top-ranked woman tennis player in the world, is suspected of tax evasion and is the target of an investigation by German authorities. Her father, who acts as her manager, is also under investigation, officials and newspapers said yesterday. Unlike some other top-earning athletes, Graf has shunned the tax haven of Monaco and kept her residency in heavily taxed Germany.

A black-tailed gull that usually plies the coasts of Korea, China, and Japan has been spotted in Rhode Island. Binocular-toting birders are flocking to see the gull. ''It's the rarest species ever to put in an appearance in Rhode Island,'' expert Richard Ferren said.

Japanese baseball sensation Hideo Nomo not only stopped American League All-Stars with his pitching, he also stopped traffic in Tokyo as Japan turned out to watch their hero on TV. Many Japanese workers even took the day off.. Nomo joined the Los Angeles Dodgers this year.

Top-Grossing Films In the US, July 7-9

(Preliminary figures)

1. ''Apollo 13,'' $19.2 million

2. ''Species,'' $17.1 million

3. ''First Knight,'' $11.1 million

4. ''Pocahontas,'' $11 million

5. ''Batman Forever,'' $9.1 million

6. ''Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie,'' $6 million

7. ''Judge Dredd,'' $5.1 million

8. ''Bridges of Madison County,'' $2.9 million

9. ''Congo,'' $2.8 million

10. ''Die Hard With a Vengeance,'' $2 million

- Associated Press

'' On Vietnam, [President Clinton] came out with a healing message. Like with Oklahoma, he's good at that.''

- Charles Jones, presidential scholar, Brookings Institution

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