News In Brief

The US

The US and China continued a diplomatic dance around Harry Wu, the Chinese-American rights activist who was convicted of espionage and sentenced to 15 years in prison and expulsion from the country Wednesday. It wasn't clear if he would have to serve the jail time prior to expulsion. China's Foreign Ministry deferred to the court on the issue; the court said he could be released ''if his attitude is good.'' A quick expulsion could help mend Sino-US ties, which China said Wednesday were at a 16-year low. (Story, Page 5.)

Congressman Reynolds of Chicago will likely resign, a friend said Wednesday. He faces a mandatory prison term for having sex with a minor. The House Ethics Committee began its own probe in June and could recommend expulsion. The two-term Democrat is also being investigated for improper use of campaign and personal funds. The son of civil rights activist Jesse Jackson is one of several Democrats planning to run for Reynolds' seat.

The Citadel asked a judge to remove Shannon Faulkner from the gender-discrimination lawsuit yesterday that she spent 2-1/2 years pursuing. It said dropping her means ''no other woman is entitled now to admission.'' Faulkner's lawyers have said two more women will join the suit.

The Justice Department is proceeding with its antitrust investigation of Microsoft, Attorney General Reno said yesterday. The statement sent the software giant's stock sharply downward.

''How many of the first one hundred positive integers contain the digit 9?'' SAT questions like these stumped US high schoolers less this year as they scored their cumulative best since the early 1970s. SAT officials said Wednesday that big gains came in math and that Asian-Americans remain the top scorers. Other minorities have made broad gains to close a historical gap. (Answer: 19.)

Initial jobless claims rose by 10,000 last week, the Labor Department said yesterday. But a more reliable index - the four-week average - fell to its lowest level in six months: 344,750.

Iowans' paychecks rose the most last year - 9.6 percent - while Montana residents eked out the smallest gain in per capita income - 3.3 percent, the Commerce Department said yesterday. The Plains and the Great Lakes regions had the largest increases. Western and Rocky Mountain states had the smallest gains. (List, at right.)

''There is 2,000 pounds of hopping hamburger,'' said an announcer of a big bull at the Wyoming rodeo President Clinton attended Wednesday. In Washington, meanwhile, Clinton's Budget Director Alice Rivlin outlined which departments would continue to work if the government shuts down this fall. Republicans have threatened to block a vote to raise the national debt ceiling above $4.9 trillion - a move that would shut down the government - in order to balance the budget.

A new survey counters Internet stereotypes: It found that 34 percent of Net users are women. The poll by O'Reilly & Associates also found that 52 percent of Net users made $50,000 or less.

US Immigration agents raided three Los Angeles sweatshops Wednesday. Some 55 Thai, Mexican, and South American immigrants were taken into custody. The raids were prompted by a tip made soon after a high-profile bust on Aug. 2 in El Monte, Calif.

When can a frozen chicken be sold as ''fresh''? Only if it hasn't been frozen below 26 degrees F., said the Agriculture Department yesterday. In a chicken war that's wrangled Washington, the new standards are a victory for California poultry producers who claimed that Arkansas producers dominated the market by keeping the birds at 0 degrees - the old standard for ''fresh'' - trucking them far and wide, and still selling them as fresh.

The World

Leaders of Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Croatia have ''agreed in principle'' to meet in Indonesia to discuss ending the conflict, a senior Indonesian official said yesterday. Also, Robert Owens, a former State Department legal adviser, will head a new four-man team replacing three key diplomats killed in Bosnia Aug. 19. President Clinton announced the appointments Wednesday after memorial services for the diplomats. US mediators will meet in Paris next week with Bosnian President Alija Izebegovic. And 75 Ukraine peacekeepers were pulled out of the UN ''safe area'' of Gorazde late Wednesday. (Story, Page 1.)

Zaire stopped expelling refugees to Rwanda yesterday. A UN envoy met with Zaire's prime minister after Zaire expelled 13,000 Hutu Rwandans and Burundans. More than 133,000 others fled into Zaire's hills. Zaire began expelling the refugees last Saturday because the country feared a Tutsi-Hutu conflict after the UN lifted an arms embargo against Rwanda Aug. 16.

Israel's secret service arrested an Islamic militant Wednesday suspected of masterminding two suicide bombings that killed 12 people. The capture of Abdel Nasr Issa and 29 accomplices dealt a severe blow to Hamas. ''The Engineer,'' the Islamic militant group's master bombmaker, remains at large. An apartment filled with chemicals and bombmaking equipment and a car packed with explosives were also found. News that the suspected mastermind was in custody before the blast started debate in Jerusalem yesterday over how much force should be use to pry information from militants.

In a speech Wednesday, King Hussein broke Jordanian ties with Iraq, attacked President Hussein's rule, and called for change in Baghdad. He used the announcement to improve ties with the Gulf and Washington. (Opinions, Pages 18 and 19; Editorial, Page 20.)

A rumbling volcano on the British Caribbean island of Montserrat forced thousands to evacuate. Heavy rains from approaching storms added to the discomfort yesterday.

Russian and Chechen negotiators agreed Wednesday rebels will disarm and Russian troops withdraw from two regions of Chechnya, despite recent violence. Also, Russian President Yeltsin has been absent from the public for about a week. Aides rushed to dispel speculation on his whereabouts and health.

Guatemalan President Ramiro de Leon Carpio Wednesday praised a two week truce announced by leftist guerrillas to occur before Nov. 12 presidential elections.

Australia was expected to submit documents at the International Court of Justice in The Hague yesterday, joining New Zealand in an effort to stop nuclear testing by France in the South Pacific. Meanwhile, Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior 2, flagship of a protest flotilla sailing to the test site, arrived Wednesday in Tahiti and vowed to challenge French military authorities at sea. (Story, Page 1.)

Swedish police said Wednesday an Algerian held in Stockholm in connection with a Paris bomb attack has an alibi, but French authorities still issued a warrant for his arrest.

Weary of the ongoing bungled election process, Haitians are bemoaning newly scheduled runoff elections for Sept. 17 - final balloting for local officials and Parliament. Also, Bahaman investigators heard tales of torture, cannibalism, and at least 150 missing passengers from Haitian refugees aboard an intercepted freighter bound for southern Florida.

Etcetera

If you've been finding it harder to buy a car, you have company. Comerica Bank, based in Detroit, says it took 30.6 weeks of median family income before taxes to buy a car during the second quarter, up from 30.3 weeks during the first three months of 1995.

He has glided past the Statue of Liberty and headed north to Rhode Island. Chessie has roamed where no manatee has gone before. He also has animal protection groups concerned. They may have to airlift the warm-water creature back home to Florida if he doesn't start backtracking soon. The Coast Guard flew him home last year.

Alfred Eisenstaedt, who died while on vacation on Martha's Vineyard Wednesday, was a master photographer for Life magazine. He took the famous VJ Day picture of a sailor kissing a woman in Times Square.

A team of Ukrainian scientists wants to send a $28 million ''party'' blimp on tours over the Grand Canyon. The craft would carry 80 tourists and have a restaurant and perhaps a gaming room. Skeptics question whether the group can get the proposal off the ground. Among challenges is a pending review of canyon airspace ordered by Congress.

Environmental groups have released a study called ''Loose the Noose'' that says businesses could save thousands of dollars by downsizing air-conditioning systems and letting workers take off their jackets and ties.

Highs and Lows of State Per Capita Income

1. Connecticut $29,044

2. New Jersey $27,742

3. New York $25,731

4. Massachusetts $25,609

5. Maryland $24,847

46. Utah $17,172

47. West Virginia $17,094

48. New Mexico $17,025

49. Arkansas $16,817

50. Mississippi $15,793

US Average $21,699

- US Commerce Department

'' The decision to withdraw from the so-called safe haven

contradicts the very firm promises of protection made only a month ago.''

- Stephane Oberreit, a Doctors Without Borders representative, on the UN pullout from Gorazde

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