News In Brief

The US

The search for four pilots missing after Cuba shot down their planes was set to be called off after two days. The Clinton administration mulled punitive measures for Cuba of the planes, which belonged to Brothers to the Rescue, an Cuban exile group. Its options range from restricting air and telephone contacts to urging a UN embargo. At the UN, the US didn't ask for a legally binding UN condemnation, but opted for a lighter ''presidential censure'' for ''unlawful use of force.'' One disputed issue: whether the planes were in international waters when attacked. Cuba said it recovered the planes in its waters and has radar maps showing their locations. The US disputes that claim.

Arizonans go to the polls today to pick 39 GOP presidential nominating delegates - the biggest number yet up for grabs. The Dakotas are holding primaries too. Senator Dole replaced his top strategist and pollster trying to jumpstart his campaign; and he got the blessing of GOP conservative Barry Goldwater. (Stories, Page 1.)

''The tether has broken,'' yelled astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman as NASA's energy-generating experiment went awry. The 1/2-ton metal ball at the other end of the 12-mile tether line then drifted away from shuttle Columbia into space. One sign of success: The satellite was generating about 3,500 volts of electricity when the tether broke. But it was the second failure of the $443-million experiment.

The Supreme Court allowed about 2,000 people to pursue claims they were harmed by radiation released in the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear accident. Justices also let stand a Florida case that makes it a crime to burn a cross on someone else's lawn. And the court heard arguments in a case about racial inequality in the prosecution of crack-cocaine cases. Five black California men say they were charged in federal court - rather than state court, where penalties are less severe - because they are black. They want the court to require federal prosecutors to answer the allegations of racism, which they have refused to do. A decision is expected in July.

The chances of a recession in the US this year are just 1 in 4, according to top economic forecasters surveyed by the National Association of Business economists. The consensus of the 36 survey participants projects that the economy, after beginning on a soft note, will grow steadily.

Fewer than 3 in 10 Americans want to scrap the current tax system, says an Associated Press poll. Although most Americans think they pay too much in taxes, about 50 percent oppose a Steve Forbes-style flat tax. Some 32 percent support such a plan. And 17 percent say the current system works pretty well. (Related Story, Page 8.)

Drug seizures at the US-Mexican border jumped 25 percent last year, the Customs Service said. Cocaine seized was up 19 percent over 1994. And Customs seized 137 pounds of heroin, an increase of 108 percent. The agency is trying to blunt criticism that it fails to stop drugs from being shipped into the US in cargo trucks.

A coalition of powerful groups filed suit to try to overturn the Communications Decency Act, which bans transmission of indecent material on the Internet. The group, which includes the nation's biggest on-line services and Microsoft Corp., says on-line users have control over what they view, so the Internet should be regulated less strictly than television - which gives viewers less choice of what they see. The suit was filed in Philadelphia against the US Justice Department.

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan defended his trip to Libya, the Sudan, and Iran, saying ''You follow your conscience, I'll follow mine.'' The State Department has accused Farrakhan (above) of ''cavorting with dictators.'' He said he was preaching peace to his Muslim brothers.

Haing Ngor, a Cambodian refugee doctor who won an Academy Award for the 1984 movie ''The Killing Fields,'' was found dead of a gunshot wound outside his Los Angeles home. Police were investigating.

The World

Bystanders shot and killed an Arab-American after his car smashed into a group of Israelis at a Jerusalem bus stop, killing two people and injuring 11. Israeli police said the crash appeared to be an accident. The incident came a day after Islamic militants from the fundamentalist group Hamas killed 23 Israelis and two Americans in separate suicide bombings in Israel. A chorus of international condemnation followed the attack. And 25 Hamas activists were arrested following orders from Palestinian Authority President Arafat.

Britain called its Army to guard royal residences after reports surfaced that the IRA is targeting the queen and her family. The discovery of security plans for royal residences at the London apartment of an IRA bomber reportedly prompted the move. Also, London announced it will deploy 400 more soldiers in Northern Ireland. And British officials were set to meet with representatives of Sinn Fein, the political arm of the IRA.

Under NATO's protection, dozens of Bosnian Serb Army vehicles entered the demilitarized zone to help evacuate Bosnian Serbs from Sarajevo suburbs. As Bosnian Serbs kept moving out, a bus load of Bosnian Muslims who had fled the area at the start of the the war, returned to claim their possessions.

Former South Korean President Chun Doo Hwan said he amassed most of a $900-million slush fund through political donations and not through bribes. On the first day of his trial, Chun challenged prosecutors to prove that he accepted bribes or drop the charges. Also, contrary to speculation, Chun vowed to protect the identities of politicians who benefitted from his fortune.

Russian troops pulled out of Arshty and Galashki in Ingushe- tia, a tiny republic that borders Chechnya. Local Ingush leaders accused Moscow of spreading the war to their territory. Earlier, Russian troops reportedly shelled the two villages, accusing Chechen rebels of taking shelter in them. The Ingush have close ethnic and religious ties with the Chechens.

In a bid to end Bangladesh's two-year-old political unrest, US Rep. Bill Richardson met with government and opposition negotiators in Dhaka. Also, three people were killed and 50 injured in clashes between opposition activists and police. In response, the opposition extended by 36 hours its three-day-old non-cooperation campaign that has shut down most of Bangladesh.

Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating said he would quit as leader of that nation's Labor Party if he loses in Saturday's election. Conservative opposition leader John Howard has also said he would not stay on as Liberal Party leader if he loses. Keating trails Howard in the polls.

Brig. Gen. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo appeared set to retain the presidency of Equatorial Guinea, which went to polls for the first time in 25 years. Of the 11 percent of votes counted, Obiang won over 99 percent. Obiang, who came to power in a violent 1979 coup, faced only one candidate in the elections after the others withdrew or were disqualified.

Governors at a former whites-only school in Johannesburg, which was forced to admit blacks, have dropped plans to appeal the decision to South Africa's highest court. They will instead ''make input'' into a national forum being set up by President Mandela.

Five civilians, four of them children, and at least two rebels were killed when government troops and Tamil Tiger guerrillas clashed in eastern Sri Lanka. The children were playing outdoors when they were felled by mortar fire.

Etceteras

Hey! You! Here's a tip! Cheer-lead for a scholarship! Free tuition awaits at colleges big and small, a survey shows. While no national numbers exist to confirm the trend, cheerleading groups say scholarships, once rare, are now offered widely.

David Dicks, a 17-year-old Australian sailor left Fremantle, Australia, in his second attempt to become the youngest person to sail solo nonstop around the world. He had to abort his first bid because of a leak.

Atlantic City, N.J., once again is home of the nation's best tap water. A panel of judges at the Festival of the Waters in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., chose the city's water for the third time in the event's six years. Huntington Station, N.Y., was second and Ames, Iowa, third.

Where's the Beav? More than 1,000 boys lined up outside Universal Studios in California to audition for a film based on the 1950s TV comedy ''Leave It to Beaver.'' It was the finale to the casting call, which lured more than 5,000 wannabe Beavers, Wallys, and Eddie Haskells.

Chessie, the manatee who traveled up the Atlantic Seaboard the past two summers, is back home in Port Everglades, Fla. He had been missing for several weeks. And he's been outfitted with a transmitter in case he heads north again.

GOP Candidate Trivia

First car:

Alexander: 1966 Ford Mustang

Buchanan: 1960 DKW

Dole: Chevrolet specially equipped for war injuries

Dornan: Customized 1949 Ford

Forbes: Ford Pinto

Lugar: 1954 Plymouth

Alternate career choice:

Alexander: starting new companies

Buchanan: history book author

Dole: physician

Dornan: archaeologist- mission ary-exorcist

Forbes: publishing

Lugar: farmer, small food machinery business

- Associated Press

'' We're the new liberals of the Republican Party. Can you imagine that?''

- Former Sen. Barry Goldwater, endorsing Senator Dole's presidential bid on the eve of the Arizona primary.

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