News In Brief

THE US

Residents in eight states, most in New England, go to the polls tomorrow to vote in the Republican presidential race. The candidates will divvy up 226 GOP delegates. Senator Dole now holds the largest number of delegates after South Carolina's primary, where he took 45 percent of the vote, followed by Pat Buchanan with 29 and Steve Forbes with 13. Lamar Alexander trailed behind again with 10 percent, a weak showing in his home region.

Clinton plans to unveil a $243-billion defense budget today that puts off increased weapons spending for several years and includes a 3 percent military pay raise for 1997. It also includes salary raises of 3.1 percent in subsequent years.

More than 60,000 people attended memorial services in Miami's Orange Bowl for four members of a Cuban search-and-rescue group shot down by Cuban jet fighters a week ago. Meanwhile, a flotilla to the site where the Brothers to the Rescue planes were downed dropped wreaths and four wooden crosses into the sea; and participants said prayers for the victims. Only 15 of 35 of the boats completed the trip: Several were forced back to shore by choppy seas. The US Coast Guard said there was no sign of Cuban military planes or vessels during the flotilla's excursion.

The trial begins today for James and Susan McDougal - President Clinton's partners in the Whitewater real estate deal - and Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker on federal fraud and conspiracy charges. But a US District judge ruled that three defendants can claim the charges against them are politically motivated. Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr wanted to prevent attorneys from using the argument. Meanwhile, a Senate battle is looming over whether the investigation should continue. The Democrats are planning to block resumption of the hearings until the Republicans agree to a timetable for a conclusion.

Colombian President Ernesto Samper railed against US intervention after the Clinton administration "decertified" Colombia. Clinton imposed the sanctions after concluding Colombian authorities had not fully cooperated on the US war on drugs. The decision could affect $1.5 billion in loan requests Colombia made to international lending institutions.

Youth violence is growing and likely to get worse, criminal justice experts told Congress. The number of killings by teenagers has increased 172 percent since 1985. Youth violence is spurred by drugs, guns, gangs, and even the media, the experts said.

The CIA lacks direction and is too remote from the policymakers it is intended to serve, says a new report by a commission established by Congress. It recommends expanding the CIA director's power.

Nothing has been decided about raising the debt limit, House Speaker Gingrich said. And a senior House aide said it now appears a vote will be delayed until the week of March 11. The US faces the possibility of default on March 22.

The military in North Carolina has serious race-relations problems, a three-month state NAACP probe concludes. It recommends establishing military-base liaisons to the NAACP and requiring periodic diversity and sensitivity training for military personnel. The December killing of a black Fayetteville couple by soldiers from Fort Bragg prompted the investigation.

The Coast Guard in Alaska detained a Japanese-owned, Panamanian-registered ship suspected of a recent oil spill that killed at least 1,000 birds. The ship was already being held for safety and sanitation violations.

The gender gap is wide at the White House: Clinton's staff has more men than women in higher-paying positions. The July salaries of 407 White House personnel were mistakenly published in a Senate report and subsequently in The Washington Times. Of the 21 aides earning $125,000 or more, 14 were men. And of the 32 earning between $100,000 and $125,000, 20 were men.

THE WORLD

A suicide bomb attack on a Jerusalem bus killed at least 19 people and injured 10. Israeli Prime Minister Peres declared an all-out war against the Muslim militant group Hamas, which claimed responsibility for the attack. Israeli President Ezer Weizman said, "We are at war." And Palestinian President Arafat outlawed all militant groups in self-rule areas. World leaders condemned the attack, the third in eight days, while reiterating that acts of terrorism cannot sabotage the Mideast peace process.

Several Bosnian Serb military units called off meetings with NATO forces following the indictment of Bosnian Serb Gen. Djordje Djukic for war crimes by the UN War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. Djukic was detained by the Muslim-led Bosnian government police after he took a wrong turn in Sarajevo Jan. 30 and was later extradited to The Hague. The indictment is proof of the international community's bias, Bosnian Serbs leaders said.

A 10-week impasse in Turkish politics ended after two conservative parties signed a coalition deal, thwarting the bid of an anti-Western Islamic party. Under the agreement, Motherland Party's Mesut Yilmaz will serve as premier for 10 months, followed by caretaker Premier Tansu Ciller for two years from 1997. After Ciller's tenure, Yilmaz will return to the helm, presuming the Parliament lasts its full five-year term.

Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev reportedly offered to meet Chechen rebel leader Dzhokhar Dudayev to discuss issues relating to the separatist republic. Dudayev, regarded as a "bandit" by Moscow, is unlikely to undertake such a risky meeting, analysts said. Also, Russian troops and rebels fought fierce battles in the village of Sernovodsk, near the capital Grozny.

The leaders of 15 EU and 10 Asian nations called for stronger economic links between the two regions during a landmark summit in Bangkok. Asian leaders emphasized the need for increased investment in Asia by EU nations. Contentious issues like human rights were pushed aside but many follow-up meetings were agreed upon before the next summit in Britain in 1998.

India's Supreme Court ordered federal police to report only to the Court in its investigation into an $18 million bribes-for-favors scandal involving 24 leading politicians. The Court criticized the Central Bureau of Investigation for not arresting the politicians, who appeared to be above the law in the past.

Australia's Labour Party and Prime Minister Paul Keating suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the conservatives, led by John Howard. Labour, in office for 13 years, lost about 33 of its 81 seats in the 148-seat House of Representatives.

The IRA's political wing, Sinn Fein, objected to being excluded from a new round of Northern Ireland peace talks planned to start today. Ireland and Britain said that Sinn Fein's participation is contingent on a guaranteed cease-fire by the IRA. Also, the US issued a conditional visa to Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams to attend St. Patrick's Day celebrations in the US. The Clinton Administration barred Adams from raising funds during his visit to the US.

The world's forests cannot be protected by banning imports of tropical timber, Indonesia told delegates of the World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development in Jakarta. Economic and environmental laws must be considered together when drafting international trade laws on forest products, the country said.

Nicaraguan children gather balloons after the newly formed Renovated Sandinista Movement party's convention. Presidential elections are set for October.

ETCETERA

"If they bring [racism] here, they have no future in the military."

- Maj. Rivers Johnson, spokesman for Fort Bragg in North Carolina, responding to an NAACP report that says Fort Bragg has race-related problems. A separate internal probe found 22 white soldiers with ties to extremist groups.

Wolves are roaming in packs in the French Alps after a 60-year absence, leading to a battle between animal defenders and farmers concerned for their livestock. Seventeen wolves have been counted in France's Maritime Alps. Scientists say they came from Italy where there are about 400 wolves.

The world's most famous sled-dog race, the Iditarod, began Saturday in Alaska. Alaskan DeeDee Jonrowe, the top woman competitor, was the first of 60 mushers out of the chute near Anchorage bound for Nome, some 1,100 miles away.

Just months from running out of 800 numbers, the nation's phone companies opened a new area code for toll-free calling - 888. About 42,000 businesses and individuals will initially be accepting calls.

The Internal Revenue Service will audit fewer individual taxpayers this year than last year because of a budget squeeze. An estimated 1.7 million returns will be audited, down from 1.92 million last year.

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For the first time since they were written more than 600 years ago, the mystery plays in York, Britain, will be performed with a woman in the role of God. The anonymous plays use imagery and rollicking buffoonery to tell Biblical stories.

Top Tree-Covered Nations

As Indonesia protests international efforts to lower its timber exports, here's a look at the most-forested nations.

Percent of country covered by forests

1. Suriname 91%

2. Solomon Islands 89

3. Papua New Guinea 83

4. French Guiana 81

5. Guyana 76

6. Gabon 74

6. North Korea 74

8. Finland 69

9. Japan 67

10. South Korea 65

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

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