News In Brief

The US

How big will your tax cut be? The budget impasse now hinges on that question, and positions are hardening. President Clinton said he and Congress could balance the budget ''literally, in 15 minutes'' except for the GOP's $210 billion tax bonus. Speaker Gingrich, also reluctant to capitulate, said: ''It may just be that we need one more election'' to balance the budget. Both sides appear to be positioning themselves to blame each other in the 1996 campaign. Also, financial markets recoiled at the news of budget-talks suspension Wednesday: The Dow Jones Industrials lost 100 points; and the dollar fell against the German mark.

Rose Law Firm partner Richard Massey said he is unable to recall who brought Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan in to do business with the firm. It's a critical issue for the Senate Whitewater committee, where Massey was set to testify yesterday. The committee is trying to determine if Hillary Rodham Clinton lied when she said Massey brought in Madison. Separately, more evidence surfaced that Mrs. Clinton pressured White House aides to fire travel office employees in 1993. ''HRC very upset ... and wanted them out of there,'' says a note from an interview with a travel office staff member after the incident became public. (Opinion, Page 18; Editorial, Page 20.)

After a 4:41 a.m. liftoff, Shuttle Endeavour was set to rendezvous with a Japanese satellite and retrieve it using the shuttle's cargo-bay arm. Several space walks are set for next week as practice for space-station building. (Story, Page 3.)

5,600 pounds of cocaine worth more than $13 million on the street. That's how much US authorities seized when they arrested five members of the Cali drug cartel operating in Miami. The move came a week after the local DEA chief said Miami has become the virtual North American headquarters for the Colombian drug ring.

Kids are willing to get tough on crime. More than 80 percent of 7th through 12th graders are interested in joining one or more community-based crime-prevention programs, a Louis/Harris poll found. And 70 percent said they want to participate in communication or youth leadership programs. Many teens already volunteer their time, most often at their places of worship.

A ''grade strike'' at Yale University has led to 130 arrests. Graduate student teaching assistants have been withholding grades to protest the school's refusal to recognize them as a union. Yale says they are students, not employees, and therefore can't have a union. The arrests came as a crowd (above) blocked a street to protest disciplinary action by the school against three student strikers.

After pledging to ''take out the sleaze,'' the TV news show ''A Current Affair'' has been canceled. The granddaddy of syndicated news magazines wasn't renewed for the 1996-97 season. The pledge came last spring in an effort to boost ratings and beat out the popular shows it inspired: ''Hard Copy'' and current front-runner ''Inside Edition.''

Sweden's Volvo says it's considering building cars in the US. Lower labor costs, a relatively weak dollar, and the sales appeal of a US-made car have induced many European and Japanese car makers to construct US plants. Volvo is reportedly considering a Southeastern US location, but it says manufacturing and delivery costs, not incentive programs provided by host cities, will determine the location.

The Supreme Court appeared ready to bar people from using a 20-year-old environmental law to recover money they spent to clean up hazardous waste on their property from previous owners. In an hour-long argument session, Five of the Court's nine justices voiced skepticism when told the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 allows such reimbursements. A decision is expected in July.

Labor groups from dozens of countries are pressuring Toys ''R'' Us to accept unions. Although the US-based firm pays fairly, it doesn't protect workers' rights, they say. The campaign also serves as a warning to anti-union multinationals, they add. Toys ''R'' Us hasn't responded.

The World

A Senior Bosnian Serb leader warned of new clashes if the unification of Sarajevo is not postponed. Under the Dayton agreement, four Serb-held Sarajevo districts are to be handed over to Bosnian Muslims by March 19. Serbs have threatened a mass exodus if their demands are not met. And a mine in Ljubija, Bosnia, could be a mass grave for 8,000 Muslims and Croats killed by Bosnian Serbs, The New York Times reported. Analysts say this, and suspected mass graves in Srebrenica, will be the key to proving that Serbs launched a genocide campaign. (Story, Page 6.)

Talks failed to break the deadlock between Russian officials and Chechen rebels holding some 200 people hostage. The rebels threatened to use their captives as human shields as Russia reinforced an already powerful presence encircling the rebel convoy. And President Yeltsin said Russia will go along with rebel demand to remove troops from Chechnya if the rebels agree to disarm.

Ryutaro Hashimoto, elected Japan's new prime minister, selected a 21-member Cabinet. Seiroku Kajiyama, who caused a furor in 1990 with an off-the-cuff slur against African-Americans, is the chief Cabinet secretary. Yukhiko Ikeda is the new foreign minister. And on a day of moderate trading, stocks on the Tokyo Stock Exchange (above) fell in response to an overnight plunge on Wall Street. (Story, Page 1.)

China failed to confirm that agreement was reached on a thorny issue during this week's Sino-British talks: allowing non-Chinese residents to stay in Hong Kong after the July 1997 handover. Contrary to British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind's earlier assertions, China indicated more negotiations were needed. Separately, former Sen. James Sasser was sworn in as US ambassador to China.

Syria urged Israel to agree to withdraw from the Golan Heights under an overall peace agreement before Israel's parliamentary elections in October. The elections could bring to power right-wingers skeptical of peace with Syria, analysts said. US Secretary of State Christopher, on the eve of talks with Syrian President Hafeez al-Assad, said the two countries had only a few months to seal a deal.

Paul Adams, a British journalist detained by Nigeria for the past week, was freed on bail after being charged with possession of seditious material. His newspaper, the Financial Times of London, said his charges were for a ''trivial offense, and really no offense at all.'' Adams, who also writes for this newspaper, was arrested during a reporting trip to Ogoniland, where locals have protested pollution by oil companies.

Ailing Greek Premier Andreas Papandreou's Socialist Party survived a no-confidence vote. Conservatives called the vote to seek a replacement to fill the seven-week-old power vacuum.

A Mexican special prosecutor announced the arrest of four high-ranking officials and 17 police officers linked to the killing of peasants traveling to a political rally. The police claim self-defense, but eye witnesses and a video of the incident say otherwise. Separately, a new round of peace talks between Zapatista rebels and the Mexican government began in the mountain village of San Andres Larrainzar.

Former South Korean President Chun Doo Hwan will be formally indicted on bribery charges, prosecutors said. Chun's slush fund is believed to be more than the $631 million, which his successor Roh Tae Woo confessed to have acquired.

Benin's formal recognition of voodoo as a religion is seen as a political ploy by President Nice- phoro Soglo to win support for the March 3 presidential elections. About 60 percent of Benin's nearly 6 million people practice voodoo.

Etceteras

A millionaire American adventurer who ran into trouble over icy waters off Canada has abandoned his quest to make the first solo balloon flight around the world. Balloonist Steve Fossett touched down Jan. 10 in a field in New Brunswick.

Jacques Cousteau's ship, the Calypso, sunk in a Singapore shipyard after being struck by a barge. Officials of the Cousteau Society said the vessel would be refloated. The Singapore accident will speed up construction of the Calypso II, which could sail within a year. The new $20 million craft will have solar-energy panels.

Top Ten Movies In the US, Jan. 5-8

1. ''12 Monkeys,'' Universal, $14.2 million

2. ''Grumpier Old Men,'' Warner Bros., $7.9 million

3. ''Jumanji,'' TriStar, $7.5 million

4. ''Toy Story,'' Disney, $7.1 million

5. ''Waiting to Exhale,'' Fox, $6.2 million

6. ''Father of the Bride Part II,'' Disney, $5.7 million

7. ''Heat,'' Warner Bros., $5.5 million

8. ''Sabrina,'' Paramount, $4.7 million

9. ''Tom and Huck,'' Disney, $2.6 million

10. ''The American President,'' Columbia, $2.2 million

- Exhibitor Relations/AP

'' ''The financial markets are firing a very clear shot across the Washington bow.''

- Hugh Johnson, market strategist at First Albany Corp., as the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped nearly 100 points Wednesday, reflecting Wall Street's response to suspension of the budget talks in Washington.

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