News In Brief

By , Cynthia Hanson, and Peter Nordahl

The US

''It's a wide open race,'' declared Steve Forbes after winning the Arizona primary. Forbes got all 39 of the state's delegates and about 33 percent of the vote. Senator Dole received about 30 percent, Pat Buchanan about 27 percent. In North Dakota, Dole took 42 percent followed by Forbes with about 20 percent. In South Dakota, Dole received 45 percent followed by Buchanan's 29 percent. Lamar Alexander didn't get over 10 percent in any of the states. The hot voter issues according to exit polls: Taxes, the budget deficit, and trade. (Story, Page 1.)

Cuba's Foreign Minister Roberto Robaina arrived in New York demanding to address the UN. Earlier, US Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright released cockpit transcripts as proof that Cuban pilots knew the planes they shot down were civilian, not military. Cuba contends the aircraft violated its air space. The US and a majority of Security Council members say that's no excuse. (Story, Page 3.)

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US West announced an $11-billion buyout of Continental Cablevision - the nation's third-largest cable owner. The buyout portends other mergers between cash-rich baby-bells and cable operators in the aftermath of telecommunications reform.

The stocks of America Online Inc. and several other Internet-related companies plunged on the news that AT&T Corp. is offering Internet service to its long-distance customers. Customers are being given five hours per month of free service and will be billed $2.50 per hour thereafter.

House Republicans unveiled a plan to create jobs, improve education, and strengthen families in poor communities. The plan, sponsored by Oklahoma Congressman J.C. Watts and Missouri's Jim Talent, would cut taxes on businesses that create jobs in poor areas and reduce business regulations.

Energy prices fueled a 0.4 percent consumer price hike in January - the fastest increase in over two years. Sales of existing homes fell 4.1 percent. Also, the US trade deficit widened in December by 1 percent. The total for 1995 - $111.04 billion - was up 4.5 percent from last year and the highest deficit since 1988.

The ''failing Clinton economy'' has renewed interest in a balanced-budget deal, House Speaker Newt Gingrich said. Gingrich and Senate majority leader Dole planned to meet to work on budget strategy. Gingrich said a budget deal could be part of an agreement to extend the $4.9-trillion debt ceiling - a move that's needed by mid-March to avoid government default.

Democrats stalled the District of Columbia's budget, protesting a provision that would give students government money to attend private schools. City officials said the nation's capital faces default if the impasse is not broken soon.

NASA is puzzling over yet another mystery involving the tethered satellite that got away from the shuttle Columbia over the weekend. Mission Control technicians ''talked'' with the escaped ball and discovered that it had a dead computer and an empty fuel tank. Valves on both thrusters were open, and all 100 pounds of gas had spewed out.

A Supreme Court ruling in favor of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. is likely to strongly impact shareholder lawsuits. The justices ruled that a settlement of an earlier Delaware state court lawsuit filed in behalf of some 7,000 ex-shareholders seeking more money from the company after a $6.6 billion takeover of MCA Inc. may bar a federal lawsuit. The dispute now returns to federal appeals court.

Female executives still fight pervasive attitudes that they can't care for both children and jobs, according to more than 460 women in Fortune 1000 firms and more than 320 men interviewed for a Seagram study. More than half the women said ''male stereotyping and preconceptions of women'' hold back their careers.

Three teachers in Salt Lake CIty founded a gay and straight teachers' alliance. They are protesting their school board's disbanding of all school-sponsored clubs rather than allow a gay student group to meet. The teachers' move fueled the controversy over homosexuality in Utah's conservative public school system.

The World

In a major boost to the Irish peace talks, British Prime Minister John Major and his Irish counterpart, John Bruton, set June 10 as the date for all-party peace talks that could include Sinn Fein, the IRA's political arm. Britain had refused to set a specific date to start all-party talks throughout the 17-month IRA truce, which broke down Feb. 9 with a bombing in London. Sinn Fein's participation in the talks is contingent upon a guaranteed cease-fire by the IRA. (Story, Page 6.)

For the first time, an official Syrian newspaper condemned an act of violence against Israel and called Sunday's suicide bomb attacks by Muslim militants that killed 25 people an ''ordeal.'' The report is seen as a major policy shift and was published hours before US-sponsored peace talks with Israel were set to re-open in Maryland. (Editorial, Page 20.)

The detention of Serb Gen. Djordje Djukic by the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal is illegal, his lawyers told the court. Djukic, they argued, is not an indicted war criminal and should be released immediately. He was arrested by the Muslim-led Bosnian government as a war crimes suspect last month. Also, Serbia followed the UN in lifting the 18-month-old sanctions against Bosnian Serbs. The decision to lift sanctions was delayed after Bosnian Serbs severed contacts with NATO.

An Israeli troop withdrawal from the West Bank town of Hebron could be delayed unless Palestinian authorities disarm Islamic militant groups, Prime Minister Peres said. The pullout is set for the end of March under the PLO-Israel peace accord. And right-wing leader Binyamin Netanyahu said he would continue the peace process with the Palestinians if his party wins Israel's May 29 general elections.

The US expressed concern as Bangladeshi police continued to detain opponents of Premier Khaleda Zia. The arrest of the mayor of Chittagong sparked riots in the ''rainy city.'' The opposition, which is campaigning to oust Zia from power, called off a five-day-old noncooperation strike that brought most of the nation to a standstill.

Australia's ruling Labor Party released documents it said showed an opposition plan to redirect state funds to finance promises they made while campaigning for this Saturday's national elections. The Liberal-National Coalition, which leads the polls by 6 percentage points, denied the accusation.

Prime Minister Hashimoto sought help from opposition parties to pass Japan's budget. As Hashimoto made his appeal, political pressure mounted for some of the country's top bankers to step down over a plan to use tax money to bail out ailing mortgage firms.

The Sri Lankan Army said 16 Tamil rebels were killed when troops repulsed a rebel raid near Weli Oya. And a military court found 14 soldiers guilty in the Feb. 11 massacre of 24 Tamil civilians in an eastern village.

The Export Import Bank has agreed to a US request to temporarily defer loans to China over the sale of nuclear-related technology to Pakistan. The US request followed a CIA report that China shipped to Pakistan specialized magnets that are used in enriching uranium, a key nuclear weapons ingredient.

Johannes Weinrich, accused of being the right-hand man of terrorist Carlos the Jackal, went on trial in Berlin. He is charged with the 1983 bombing of a French cultural center. Investigations into the bombing revealed ties between East German officials and left-wing terrorists.

Etceteras

Hockey great Wayne Gretzky (above), who helped win four Stanley Cups for the Edmonton Oilers but failed to carry the Los Angeles Kings to a title, was traded to St. Louis.

Kurt Wait's Macadamia Fudge Torte is a rich confection. It won him $1 million. He is the first man ever to win the grand prize at the Pillsbury Bake-Off. The self-taught cook's ingredients included devil's food cake mix, canned sliced pears, and nuts, with a butterscotch-caramel-fudge topping.

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands opened an exhibition of paintings by Dutch master Jan Vermeer. Organizers said ticket sales have already passed 300,000. The showing will be in The Hague till June 2.

Record-Breaking Albums

With the Grammy Awards set to be announced last night, here's a look at the world's bestselling albums of all time.

1. ''Thriller,'' Michael Jackson, 40,000,000

2. ''The Bodyguard,'' soundtrack, 26,000,000

3. ''Saturday Night Fever,'' soundtrack, 25,000,000

4. ''Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band,'' The Beatles, 24,000,000

5. ''Tapestry,'' Carole King, 22,500,000

6. ''Bridge over Troubled Water,'' Simon & Garfunkel, 22,000,000

6. ''Grease,'' soundtrack, 22,000,000

8 ''Born in the USA,'' Bruce Springsteen, 21,500,000

9. ''The Sound of Music,'' soundtrack, 21,000,000

10. ''Rumors,'' Fleetwood Mac, 20,500,000

- ''The Top 10 Everything of 1996,'' by Russell Ash, published by Dorling Kindersley

'' Sometimes it feels good. Sometimes it feels like you're a punching bag, particularly in debate. But I guess that's the role of the front-runner.''

- Senator Dole, on life on the campaign trail.

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