News In Brief

The US

Candidates (including expected winner Senator Dole, above) stumped furiously in the final hours before Iowans went to the polls. They specifically targeted the ''undecided'' vote. About 1 in 5 Republican voters said they hadn't made up their minds. Support for Senator Dole surged in the last polls before the vote. And Steve Forbes, Pat Buchanan, and Lamar Alexander vied for the critical second-place spot. Buchanan was bolstered after a surprise win in Louisiana; he's expected to attract many Christian Coalition votes.

While much of the Northwest is drying out, the Spokane River and Lake Coeur d'Alene in Idaho were set to crest at seven feet above normal levels. After campaigning in Iowa, President Clinton heads to the region tomorrow to survey damage. (Above, two residents of Woodland, Wash., head back home after waters receded enough for them to begin cleaning up.)

AT&T and MCI are talking about joining forces to create local telephone networks in major US markets, The Wall Street Journal reports. The longtime competitors may share the costs of building new local networks, which could compete with current ones. The new telecommunications law allows long-distance carriers, such as AT&T and MCI, into local markets.

The engineer in Friday's commuter train collision in New Jersey had a record of ignoring stop signals, federal investigators said. In 34 years as an engineer, he ran through four signals. But authorities say they don't have enough evidence to know if the engineer, who died in the crash, was at fault.

The FBI is investigating hints of sabotage in the Feb. 1 derailment of a freight train carrying toxic chemicals in California. A signal may have been improperly set, causing the train to accelerate before plunging down a steep grade.

About 13 percent of all college undergraduates need remedial courses to catch up on material they missed in high school. Minority remedial rates were even higher. (Story, Page 4.)

Gas prices slipped two-thirds of a penny in the last three weeks - the first drop since mid-November. US drivers paid an average of $1.17 a gallon.

Las Vegas police solved about one in every five violent crimes committed there in 1994. That's the lowest crime-solving rate in the US, the FBI says. Detroit had the next worst rate, followed by: Buffalo, N.Y.; San Francisco; and Miami. The US average for crime solving was 45 percent in 1994.

In a fierce gun battle between rival gangs, 16 people were wounded at a Pasadena, Texas, apartment complex. Police said 10 people were taken in for questioning, but no charges were filed because participants weren't cooperating. Members of both gangs live in the high-rise housing complex.

The top 400 donors to political parties and candidates gave more than $40 million, Mother Jones magazine says. The largest donations - so-called ''soft money'' - were made to political parties. Unlike candidates, there are few limits on gifts to political parties. To make Mother Jones's list, contributors had to give at least $52,000. (List, at right.)

A US spy was fired after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing because Central Intelligence Agency investigators believed he obtained visas for people with possible terrorist connections, the Los Angeles Times reported. The paper said the agent - identified only by his cover name, Robert Cleare - issued visas to some 20 people based on forged documents. Many were later determined to be security risks.

Free software for preventing objectionable Internet material from entering your computer will be available in three months from Massachusetts computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, who is credited with starting the World Wide Web. His address: http://www.w3.org/pub/WWW/

The World

The Muslim-led Bosnian government pledged not to arrest war-crimes suspects without prior approval of the UN War Crimes Tribunal. Two weeks ago, the Bosnian government arrested two Bosnian Serb officers as war- crimes suspects. Under the agreement secured by US envoy Richard Holbrooke, the Bosnian government will submit a list of war-crimes suspects to the Tribunal. Only individuals certified as suspects by the tribunal can be arrested on Croat-Muslim Federation territory.

Russian troops will pull back from selected areas in Chechnya if the rebels disarm, Russian officials told Chechens during talks in the town of Gudermes. But the talks are unlikely to bring about major troop withdrawals or serious disarmament, analysts said. Separately, some 20 splinter communist groups have united to back communist leader Gennady Zyuganov's candidacy for Russia's presidency.

Yasser Arafat was sworn in as the Palestinian president. The 88 council members elected in the Jan. 20 elections will be sworn in next week. Separately, Israeli Prime Minister Peres ended months of speculation by announcing early elections. And Palestinians scuffled with Israeli soldiers after Israel - citing security concerns - barred Palestinians from entering Israel from the towns of Ramallah and Qalqilya.

Italy's President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro said he'll call for elections if Antonio Maccanico fails to form a government in Rome by today. Scalfaro designated Maccanico to form a government after the resignation last month of Premier Lamberto Dini. Maccanico's two-week-old talks with political leaders to form a coalition have been stalled over proposed political reforms.

The IRA could strike again on the British mainland, Britain's Scotland Yard said. But IRA members were quoted by the Irish Times as saying the bombing in London was a one-time attack meant to shock Britain and Ireland into breaking the stalemate in Irish peace talks and does not signify a resumption of the conflict. (Stories, Pages 1 and 6.) Above, a woman clutches a paper dove during a peace vigil against the bombing attended by several thousand people in central Belfast.

A Shiite Muslim group reportedly claimed responsibility for a bomb explosion at a hotel in Manama, Bahrain, that killed four people. The blast followed weeks of unrest. Bahraini Shiites are demanding the release of political prisoners and restoration of a parliament dissolved in 1975. A majority of Bahrainis are Shiite while the rulers are Sunni.

Crews in northern Japan continued to blast away at a giant boulder that crushed a highway tunnel. The latest charge, 550 pounds of explosives, failed to dislodge the rock - the size of a 20-story building. Twenty people in a bus and a car are believed trapped in the tunnel. Work crews digging their way in from both ends of the tunnel were halted by the precarious state of the remaining tunnel ceiling.

The Bangladeshi government rejected the opposition's demand to halt Thursday's election in Dhaka. Opposition leaders say a caretaker government must replace Premier Khaleda Zia to ensure free elections. Violence has been escalating in recent weeks, and officials plan to deploy 20,000 troops to counter violence. (Story, Page 8.)

Despite pressure from the West, President Mandela said he is determined to invite Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi to visit South Africa. Both Havana and Tripoli donated millions of dollars to Mandela's ANC party and helped to train its guerrillas.

Etceteras

The precious Vermeer collection of 17th-century art ended its three-month stay at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. A quarter-million people stood in line for hours for tickets to tour the exhibit of 22 paintings by Dutch master Johannes Vermeer. It was the biggest collection of his art ever assembled in one place. The paintings will go on to The Hague in the Netherlands for their next showing.

World chess champion Garry Kasparov beat the computer ''Deep Blue'' in Philadelphia to tie their best-of-six match at 1 to 1. Kasparov said he has abandoned his trademark aggressive attacks and is ''lulling'' the IBM-designed computer into letting down its defenses.

Egypt will open four pyramids that have been off-limits to tourists to draw crowds away from the overwhelmed pyramids at Giza. Two of the ruins are considered to be some of the first attempts at pyramid building in Egypt. The four pyramids are located in a desert area south of Cairo, and they will open in June.

Top 10 Political Donors

Mother Jones magazine listed the top 400 most generous political donors in the last two years. The list was compiled by the nonpartisan Center For Responsive Politics, which analyzed Federal Election Commission records.

1. Fred Lennon, Ohio billionaire $524,450

2. William S. Lerach, San Diego attorney 480,043

3. Dwayne Andreas, Archer Daniels Midland chair 348,950

4. Carl Lindner, Cincinnati financier and former partner of Charles Keating 337,500

5. Marvin Davis, Hollywood billionaire oilman 331,000

6. Dirk Ziff, New York investment manager 302,000

7. Bernard Schwartz, New York telecommunications 293,400

8. William Rollnick 291,250

9. John E. Connelly 286,300

10. Frank Fertitta, Las Vegas casino head 271,500

10. Stanley Druckenmiller, New York investment fund manager 271,500

- Mother Jones magazine/AP

'' The whole political establishment is after me.

They know I mean what I say.''

- GOP presidential hopeful Steve Forbes, defending himself in the last hours before the Iowa caucuses.

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