News In Brief

By , Abraham T. McLaughlin, and Peter Nordahl.

THE US

The bill that President Clinton signed to avert a third government shutdown cuts EPA funding but restores foreign aid to 1996 levels and increases Pell college-tuition grants. And with the debt ceiling now Washington's most pressing fiscal issue, Clinton told Republicans to "stop playing politics with America's good name." The rating for US bonds could be downgraded if a debt default occurs. The GOP wants more of its agenda passed before it increases the debt limit.

With Dallas heavily favored to beat Pittsburgh in the Superbowl, much attention was on the ads the game's estimated 125 million viewers would see. Each second of air time cost $40,000. Also, gambling was a big part of the Superbowl. An estimated $4 billion was bet on the game.

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An F-16 flyover at the Superbowl was just one of many events commemorating shuttle Challenger's explosion 10 years ago. The Superbowl flyover was led by pilot Rich Scobee, who is the son of Challenger's commander, Dick Scobee.

Hillary Rodham Clinton said the questions asked of her in front of a grand jury focused mostly on the appearance of her law firm's billing records in a White House office. She is "mystified" as to how they were found. It's unclear whether she will be called to testify again. And a Newsweek poll finds Mrs. Clinton less popular than her husband - a first in US politics. Her approval rating is 42 percent; his is above 50 percent.

A 30,000-member gang with annual revenues of $100 million goes on trial in Chicago today on drug conspiracy charges. Gangster Disciples operates like a corporation - with a board of directors and a chairman who runs the gang from prison.

Apple Computer apparently won't be bought by Sun Microsystems. But Sony is reportedly interested. Sony wants to enter the personal computer market, knows the consumer retail business, and values innovation - all of which present a good rationale for an Apple buyout.

Rep. Enid Waldholtz says she has uncovered new evidence of check forgery and other fraud by her estranged husband, Joseph. A federal grand jury is probing allegations that he engaged in a $1.7 million check-kiting scheme and lied to election authorities.

The barge that ran aground off Rhode Island a week ago was freed and towed out to sea. It had leaked 828,000 gallons of heating oil near a wildlife refuge. Cleanup efforts continue.

Jeffrey Wigand, the former Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corp. executive, says the company's CEO lied to Congress under oath in 1994, saying he didn't think nicotine was addictive. A company spokesman said Wigand is "a master of deceit." Wigand's charge comes in a confidential deposition printed Friday by The Wall Street Journal.

University of California regents called for a job review of UC President Richard Atkinson. The extraordinary move comes after Atkinson announced a one-year delay in implementing the regents' order to do away with affirmative-action programs. The regents meet Wednesday to take action on the review.

The Justice Department plans to question Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan as to whether he has become an agent of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi. A US law requires all "foreign agents" to register as such. Libya's news agency said the two agreed to "mobilize the oppressed minorities" in the US for the 1996 elections.

Millionaire John du Pont is holed up in his Philadelphia home. He allegedly shot and killed Olympic wrestler Dave Schultz on Friday and then retreated into the home. Police will wait until he gives up rather than force a confrontation.

Former US Sen. Ralph Yarborough of Texas, who died Saturday in Austin, was in the motorcade in Dallas when President Kennedy was assassinated. He went on to become a key ally of President Johnson and was the only senator from the South to vote for the landmark 1964 civil rights bill Johnson championed.

THE WORLD

Croats and Muslims released about 380 prisoners, and the Bosnian Serbs responded by releasing 74, the Red Cross said. It was a significant exchange of prisoners, which is already a week behind schedule as laid down in the Dayton accord. Also, US Army Lt. Shawn Watts was grazed by sniper fire outside a NATO office in a Serb-held Sarajevo suburb.

France's sixth nuclear test triggered a new wave of outrage in Asia and the South Pacific. French President Jacques Chirac, who previously indicated that the sixth blast might be the last, left the option open for a seventh test, saying the blasts will be completed by the end of February. The test conducted at the Fangataufa Atoll in the South Pacific is the most powerful so far.

Jerusalem will not be on the agenda during May's Israel-PLO final settlement talks, Israeli Premier Peres said. The holy city is claimed as a capital by both Israelis and the Palestinians. Also, the Palestinian Authority released 12 Hamas prisoners. It is a further sign of reconciliation between the militant Islamic group and the PLO, analysts said.

Colombian President Ernesto Samper's government was in further turmoil: Gen. Ricardo Emilio Cifuentes, a respected general, requested retirement. So far, three government ministers and six ambassadors have resigned. Meanwhile, thousands of students and housewives staged protests in the capital, Bogota. The crisis for Samper intensified after his former aides accused him of soliciting Cali drug cartel money to finance his campaign.

Mexico will repay $1.3 billion of its $11.75 billion debt to the US today. Mexico has already repaid $750 million of the $12.5 billion loaned by the US after its economy collapsed in 1994. Mexico is pursuing sound monetary policies and is on the road to economic recovery, a US Treasury report said.

In a violent military coup, Col. Barre Mainassara Ibrahim took power in Niger. President Mahamane Ousmane was placed under house arrest. Political parties were outlawed, and the Constitution was suspended. The US condemned the coup and said it will withhold all aid. In a recent report, the UN called the former French colony the world's least-developed country.

Sergei Kovalyov, Russia's human rights commissioner, resigned. Kovalyov was a vocal critic of Russia's military intervention in Chechnya. Also, more than 200,000 clergymen were executed in dictator Josef Stalin's purges, according to a Russian commission on rehabilitating victims of political oppression.

Lucien Bouchard was to be sworn in today as Quebec's premier. He said his most important objective will be to achieve Quebec's independence from Canada. Last October, Bouchard rallied separatists to near victory in a referendum on Quebec sovereignty.

Pakistani and Indian troops exchanged fire across the volatile Jammu and Kashmir border. Earlier, Pakistani President Farooq Leghari vowed his country would respond to an alleged rocket attack by India that killed 20 people. India denies its forces were involved. Also, China shipped to Pakistan parts for a nuclear-power plant Beijing is building there. Analysts say the 40-megawatt reactor at Kahuta could be used to produce nuclear-weapons material.

A rejuvenated Boris Becker of Germany won the Australian Open tennis men's singles title warding off the challenge of Michael Chang of the US 6-2, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2. Monica Seles of the US claimed her fourth Aussie Open title with a 6-4, 6-1 win over German Anke Huber.

In a move to strip Cape Town's Parliament building of apartheid era symbols, workers remove a bust of former Premier Hendrik Verwoerd, apartheid's architect.

ETCETERA

They want to control the entire community. It's the same thing as Capone."

- Chicago Police Commander Donald Hilbring, on the Gangster Disciples, a 30,000-member gang that goes on trial today on drug-conspiracy charges.

"Cats" has purred its way to a world record. The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical of T.S. Eliot poems becomes the longest-running musical ever today when it marks its 6,138th performance in London, surpassing the record set on Broadway by "A Chorus Line."

Florida piano tuner Wallace Magnani, who lived frugally, has been generous in his will to Uncle Sam. He left a half million dollars to the US government to help reduce the federal debt. He reportedly felt the government saved his life during the Depression, and he wanted to give something back.

Toni Morrison, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, has been named the 1996 Jefferson lecturer, the highest honor the US government can bestow for intellectual achievement.

At least 160 of the Richard Nixon commemorative stamps may be worth thousands of dollars. They were reportedly misprinted with the portrait off-center and his name upside down.

How many villagers does it take to pull an elephant from a mudhole? About a hundred. That is how many Kenyans joined experts to rescue the pachyderm, which became stuck in the mud at the Amboseli Game Preserve near Nairobi.

World's Fastest Animals

Why is that spotted cat so fast? Because he's a cheetah. And here are his fast friends.

Animal Top-recorded speed (in miles per hour)

Movin' Mammals

1. Cheetah 65

2. Pronghorn antelope 55

3. Mongolian gazelle 50 3. Springbok 50

Bookin' Birds

1. Spine tailed swift 106

2. Magnificient frigatebird 95

3. Spur-winged goose 88

Flyin' Fish

1. Sailfish 68

2. Marlin 50

3. Bluefin tuna 46

- "The Top 10 of Everything, 1996," published by Dorling Kindersley

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