News In Brief

The US

In congressional Whitewater hearings, a Secret Service guard testified yesterday that he saw Hillary Clinton's chief of staff, Margaret Williams, remove papers from White House aide Vincent Foster's office the night of Foster's death. Williams, who was expected to testify yesterday afternoon, has denied the claim. On Tuesday, a former White House aide said Attorney General Janet Reno was concerned that it took four days to find Foster's suicide note. Another aide said she searched unsuccessfully for the note in Foster's office for 10 minutes and took nothing with her. Separately, Speaker Gingrich said he was ''not convinced'' that Foster killed himself.

Was David Koresh given enough chances to surrender? That's the question facing FBI and ATF agents as congressional hearings on the federal raid at Waco, Texas, continue. The FBI agent in charge of the raid was expected to testify yesterday. On Tuesday, Koresh's lawyers said the FBI lost two chances to end the 51-day siege through negotiations. But FBI negotiator Byron Sage said Koresh was ''a master of deception'' who had no intention of surrendering. Sage was expected to testify yesterday.

The Senate was expected to vote yesterday on lifting the arms embargo on the Bosnian government. But it is unclear whether the measure has enough support to override an expected Clinton veto.

The House Appropriations Committee passed a $38 billion transportation bill Tuesday. The legislation would boost funds for highways and air-traffic control while reducing money for trains and mass transit. The committee also passed a $244 billion defense bill. It would increase this year's defense budget by $2.5 billion and focus on buying new weapons, including B-2 bombers. A $27.6 billion bill to fund the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State is also moving toward passage. Half the bill's crime budget is in the form of state block grants. No funds would go to Clinton's plan to put 100,000 police on the streets.

Tobacco companies are negotiating with the White House to avoid regulation of tobacco products as drugs. A proposed deal would require the cigarette companies to spend millions combatting teenage smoking in exchange for avoiding FDA regulation.

Gingrich was expected to spend all day today in a ''no-holds-barred'' closed session with the House Ethics Committee, its chairwoman said. At issue: The college class that Gingrich taught until recently and whether it should have been funded with tax-deductible donations; and Gingrich's book deal with a company owned by media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, who has other business before Congress.

The Korean War Veterans Memorial was expected to be formally dedicated today in Washington. Also, the Army released a report saying racism played a key role in an all-black unit's Korean War failures. It said the unit - which was disbanded after failing in battle - was poorly trained, ill-equipped, and lacked confidence.

Violent criminals spend just under half their sentences behind bars, a Justice Department survey of state prison systems showed. Although the number of months served is increasing, so too are average sentence lengths.

Americans are buying homes at the fastest rate in 15 years, the administration said Tuesday. Since January, 721,000 people have purchased homes - the largest single-quarter increase since 1980.

A new poll showed Clinton beating top Republican presidential contender Dole by 50 percent to 44 percent. The two were tied two weeks ago, according to the CNN/USA Today poll

For the second space shuttle flight in a row, NASA has found heat damage on a critical O-ring seal in a rocket booster used by Discovery this month.

The World

French authorities stepped up security after Tuesday's bombing attack on the Paris subway. Seven people were killed and more than 80 were injured in the rush-hour blast. No one has claimed responsibility, but authorities speculate that the attackers may have been militant Muslims fighting the Algerian government in the former French colony or Bosnian Serbs retaliating for a reported French attack on Serbs last Sunday. (Story, Page 7.)

Serb forces renewed attacks on the government enclave of Bihac yesterday, forcing at least 8,000 people to flee, UN officials said. About 1,400 exhausted refugees, meanwhile, arrived in the government-held town of Kladanj after being evicted from Zepa, the second UN ''safe area' to fall in two weeks. About 7,000 more refugees were expected to arrive yesterday. NATO allies agreed yesterday to increase the power and effectiveness of airstrikes against Bosnian Serbs if they continue their attacks on UN safe areas. (Story, Page 1.)

A bill aimed at blocking territorial concessions on the Golan Heights was defeated on a tie vote yesterday, just barely salvaging the Israeli government's policy of trading land for peace with Syria. The legislation would have made Israel's withdrawal from the Golan Heights contingent on a special majority in parliament or in a public referendum. Israeli and PLO officials, meanwhile, said negotiations to extend Palestinian self-rule, suspended after a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv Monday, were expected to resume next week. (Story, Page 6.)

China announced yesterday that it stopped missile testing in seas north of Taiwan, despite one press report that said it conducted a test yesterday. The tests caused jitters in Taiwan and sent the stock market plummeting. Despite the move, China continued to verbally attack Taiwan.

The World Trade Organization reached a tentative agreement yesterday on an accord that would make it easier for banks, insurance companies, and securities firms to operate worldwide. Formal confirmation is expected Friday. The accord lasts until the end of 1997 when a more permanent arrangement will be negotiated. The US is the only major country to opt out of the accord. South Korea and Japan, the other two major holdouts, agreed to the deal in the final hours.

Russian and rebel Chechens fought gun battles in Chechnya after peace talks were suspended, Itar-Tass news agency said yesterday. Peace talks to resolve the conflict broke up in Grozny Tuesday to give delegates time to consider a draft military deal drawn up by Moscow. They are expected to reconvene on Saturday. (Editorial, Page 20.)

A former Khmer Rouge guerrilla was sentenced yesterday to 15 years in jail for his role in last year's murder in Cambodia of three Westerners. Four other rebels were sentenced for terms ranging from 16 to 20 years. They were convicted of premeditated murder and being members of the outlawed Khmer Rouge.

Facing boycott threats and demands that he revamp a council blamed for chaotic elections, Haitian President Aristide asked all political parties and the nine-member Electoral Council to meet yesterday. They were expected to discuss the possible replacement of two council members and whether to hold makeup elections Aug. 6 for the hundreds of thousands of voters who never got to cast ballots in the June 25 elections. Aristide, meanwhile, was quoted as criticizing the local and legislative elections for the first time.

Etcetera

The ship that recovered the Apollo 13 crew is on the auction block. The aircraft carrier USS Iwo Jima picked up the three astronauts after their troubled flight 25 years ago. Eleven other deactivated ships at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard are also up for sale.

Moscow motorists are unfazed by unexplained gasoline shortages and endless lines, and they often pump their own gas from unauthorized roadside delivery trucks. But they're a little less sure of the city's latest trend: the 24-hour, full-service station.The stations signal yet another shift from the Soviet way of doing things.

Boston's Ritz-Carlton, long a bastion of proper attire, is one of thousands of businesses recognizing that there's a more casual air afoot. Former buttoned-down corporate giants Ford and IBM made casual dress a policy earlier this year. Now the Ritz is loosening its tie, allowing gentlemen guests to venture into parts of the hotel without theirs.

The rights to the music of legendary rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix, valued at $90 million, were awarded to his father in a court settlement.

George W. Romney, who died yesterday, was a former American Motors Corp. chairman and a Michigan governor. He saw his presidential bid collapse when he said he had been ''brainwashed'' over Vietnam.

Top-Grossing Films, July 21-23

(Preliminary figures)

1. ''Apollo 13,'' $12.5 million

2. ''Clueless,'' $10.6 million

3. ''Nine Months,'' $9.8 million

4. ''Under Siege 2: Dark Territory,'' $9.1 million

5. ''Species,'' $7.1 million

6. ''Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home,'' $7.0 million

7. ''Pocahontas,'' $5.7 million

8. ''The Indian in the Cupboard,'' $5.3 million

9. ''First Knight,'' $4.7 million

10. ''Batman Forever,'' $3.6 million

- Associated Press

'' Have a nice war.''

- Sen. John Kerry (D) of Massachusetts on the message the Senate would send to Bosnia by lifting the arms embargo

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