News In Brief

By , Shelby Siems, and Peter Nordahl

The US

The Walt Disney Co. will acquire Capital Cities-ABC Inc., the companies said yesterday. The merger of entertainment and communications giants is valued at about $19 billion and is the second-largest merger in US history. (Story, Page 1.)

President Clinton and Senator Dole presented very different welfare-reform plans to the nation's governors in Burlington, Vt., yesterday. Of biggest concern to the governors: how to equitably divide federal welfare funds among states; and the strings attached to federal block grants. Dole said the GOP would give almost unlimited powers to define welfare benefits and force recipients to work for aid. Clinton was expected to announce a lifting of some federal rules, including one requiring states to give extra food stamps to welfare recipients whom they require to work. He was also expected to speed federal approval for state welfare plans. (Story, Page 1.)

Recommended: 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize: 7 (not 5) nominees

Whitewater hearings are a ''search in a dark room for a black cat which isn't there,'' former White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum said to the New York Times yesterday. Nussbaum, who is increasingly portrayed as the ''heavy'' in the White House's guarded response to presidential aide Vincent Foster's 1993 death, was expected to testify yesterday. He denies GOP critics' charges that he blocked the search of Foster's office on Hillary Clinton's orders.

The role of the military was expected to be the lead topic at congressional Waco hearings yesterday. Attorney General Reno was expected to testify today. On Sunday, the hearings' co-chair, Congressman Zeliff, said he has information that Clinton ''wanted to be informed every step of the way'' and may have given the final okay for the deadly raid on the Branch Davidian compound.

A US-China summit this fall is ''very difficult for me to envision'' without the release of Chinese-American activist Harry Wu, Secretary of State Christopher said yesterday. He was expected to meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen in Brunei today to try to mend Sino-US ties. But China said yesterday that the US must ''correct its mistake'' over allowing the Taiwanese president to visit the US. China did not specify the US action it seeks. Both countries' presidents reportedly want a summit. But Clinton risks harsh criticism from Wu's congressional supporters should the summit occur before Wu's release.

An American says she's ready to take the CIA to court over its refusal to release information on the whereabouts of her husband, a Guatemalan guerrilla who vanished more than three years ago. Jennifer Harbury said the CIA has not responded to a request she filed six months ago under the Freedom of Information Act. Her husband, Efrain Bamaca Velasquez, disappeared in 1992.

Chicago's air-traffic-control center, the busiest in the US, will get new equipment soon, Senator Simon and Representative Weller, both of Illinois, said. The 30-year-old computer has experienced a string of breakdowns recently. An interim system may be in place by mid-1996, the Chicago Tribune reports.

About 25 people were arrested in Los Angeles during the second night of protests over the police killing of a teenage boy. Police were pelted with rocks by people holding a charity car wash for the boy's family. Police say the boy was carrying a gun. Friends says it was a flashlight.

The availability of methamphetamine, the illegal drug of choice in the US West, is spreading. It's in Wyoming, the Midwest, and Atlanta's suburbs, says Thomas Constantine of the Drug Enforcement Administration. It is half the price of cocaine, and amateur chemists can make it.

Foreign tourists are coming to the US in droves. The weak dollar is expected to entice $77 billion in tourist spending for the US in 1995, the Commerce Department said. But as more people travel worldwide, the US could lose out if it maintains its currently low level of tourism advertising abroad.

The World

Croatian soldiers yesterday pressed toward the self-declared capital of rebel Serbs after the rebels reneged on a promise made Sunday to halt attacks on Bihac, the besieged Bosnian enclave. The promise was made to allow UN observers to deploy along the border and to stop blocking UN aid convoys to the enclave. The US, Russia, and European powers will meet in Washington tomorrow to discuss peace efforts. (Story, Page 1.)

Japanese officials yesterday scrambled to cope as depositors withdrew large sums from Tokyo's largest credit union, Cosmo Shinyo Kumiai, after the media reported it had serious problems. The moves, including stop-gap funds from the Bank of Japan and a plea to an industry group to find someone to take over Cosmo's business, came amid concern about the Japanese financial system's health.

In a crackdown on a powerful, nonviolent Muslim group, the Egyptian government has stated that Islamic rule will not be imposed in Egypt. The edict comes after Friday's roundup of 200 Muslim Brotherhood activists in two cities. Israel has told the US it will request extradition of a Hamas leader for attacks against Israelis. The Palestinian police chief said Sunday Jewish settlers in the West Bank town of Hebron would have to accept eventual PLO rule or leave. Israeli police yesterday detained 16 right-wing Jewish activists who tried to break into a Jerusalem mosque.

Russia's Constitutional Court upheld the legality of the invasion of breakaway Chechnya yesterday, one day after Russian negotiators and rebels reached an agreement halting the war. Despite the pact, shooting continued. Though a political solution appears distant, the agreement does represent a breakthrough toward peace.

The number of deaths from Chile's earthquake on Sunday rose to three. Dozens of homes were severely damaged and many more bordered on collapse. Meanwhile, in Japan, coastal areas were put on tidal-wave alert as the first waves from the quake reached Japan. They were only 1.2 to 12 inches in height, however.

Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels said that of 180 people killed in an attack on four army bases on Friday, 128 were women, including two suicide bombers. A traitor had forewarned the military of the attack.

A wave of firebombings of Turkish businesses in Germany entered its second week yesterday. The Turkish ambassador demanded better police protection against suspected Kurdish militants. Assailants, presumed to be Kurdish separatists or right-wing radicals, hurled Molotov cocktails through windows of Turkish-owned travel agencies in Bochum and Bremen.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein pardoned all political prisoners and suspected government opponents on Sunday. The surprise gesture was apparently aimed at softening criticism of his human rights record and ending international sanctions.

Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son of former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, was convicted of tax evasion and sentenced to nine years in jail and fines.

Although China seems to be holding fast to its claim on the Spratly Islands, some nations at a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) sense a shift in its hard-line stand. The islands are claimed by China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Brunei.

Etcetera

Baseball's Hall of Fame Sunday inducted modern-era players Mike Schmidt and Richie Ashburn, Negro Leagues star Leon Day, turn-of-the-century-pitcher Vic Willis, and National League founder William Hulbert.

Feel free to split infinitives and don't worry about starting a sentence with a ''but'' because some age-old rules of English grammar are just schoolroom mythology, says the ''Plain English Guide,'' to be published by the Oxford University Press Aug. 10. It has raised some grammarians' eyebrows.

''Waterworld,'' the $200 million Kevin Costner sea epic, finished No. 1 at the box office last weekend in theaters across the US, grossing $21.6 million. ''The Net'' finished in second place.

Best-Selling Books, Hardcover Fiction

1. ''Memnoch the Devil,'' Anne Rice (Knopf)

2. ''Beach Music,'' Pat Conroy (Doubleday)

3. ''Lightning,'' Danielle Steel (Delacorte)

4. ''The Rainmaker,'' John Grisham (Doubleday)

5. ''The Bridges of Madison County,'' Robert James Waller (Warner)

6. ''Rose Madder,'' Stephen King (Viking)

7. ''The Celestine Prophesy,'' James Redfield (Warner)

8. ''The Witness,'' Sandra Brown (Warner)

9. ''Dangerous to Know,'' Barbara Taylor Bradford (HarperCollins)

10. ''Let Me Call You Sweetheart,'' Mary Higgins Clark (Simon & Schuster)

- Publisher's Weekly

'' He wanted to know. He wanted to be involved in the decision process.''

- Rep. Bill Zeliff on President Clinton's role in the 1993 Branch Davidian raid at Waco, Texas

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