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News In Brief

By CompiledYvonne ZippCynthia Hanson, and Peter Nordahl / May 1, 1996



THE US

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President Clinton ordered an investigation into recent price surges at the gas pump. He also asked the Energy Department to sell about 12 million barrels of petroleum reserves to bring the price down. Also, the White House said it is willing to discuss Republican calls for a repeal of Clinton's 1993 gasoline tax increase. Gas prices are the highest they've been since the Gulf war.

Palestinian President Arafat planned to meet with Clinton in the Oval Office today - the first time he will have been received in Washington as a national leader. Israeli Prime Minister Peres met with Arafat yesterday. Also, Clinton and Peres planned to sign an antiterrorism accord that formalizes US support for Israel in combatting guerrilla attacks. The two leaders also were to discuss ways to move ahead the Middle East peace process. On a lighter note, Peres met opera star Jessye Norman in New York.

Lawyers in the Oklahoma City bombing case plan to argue today whether suspects Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols should be executed if convicted.

The FBI asked a Montana state assistant attorney general and legislator to meet with the "freemen" antigovernment group. The group requested the meeting to discuss setting up a forum at the state capitol for them to present their case. They also requested immunity from arrest while traveling to the statehouse in Helena. Also, The New York Times reported that Ralph Clark, who heads the group, and his ranch partner received $676,082 in government farm subsidies over the last decade.

A pending storm threatened to stall search efforts for former CIA Director William Colby, whose canoe was found Sunday on a sandbar in Maryland's Wicomico River about a quarter mile from his vacation home. Searchers began dragging the river bottom, and tracking dogs were added to the search team. Police haven't ruled out an accident or foul play.

The UN is out of money and says it will have to borrow from its separate peacekeeping fund to stay afloat. The shortfall is due to Japan, Germany, and the US delaying millions of dollars in payments, a UN official said. Washington owes the most: $1.5 billion. But recent US legislation earmarked about $600 million for the UN, and Congress might approve further funds in October.

Cuban immigration was expected to dominate Senate debates on the illegal immigration bill. The bill would eliminate a law that entitles Cuban immigrants to claim permanent legal residence one year after they arrive in the US, legally or illegally. Also, a federal appeals court in San Francisco upheld government restrictions on travel to Cuba.

Relatives of Americans killed in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 filed a suit against Libya for $10 billion under a provision of the new antiterrorism law. The law allows for lawsuits for personal injuries caused by terrorist acts allegedly committed by countries the State Department lists as exporters of terrorism. Separately, a Cincinnati federal appeals court threw out a decision awarding $15 million from Korean Air Lines for pain and suffering to families of five people killed in the 1983 downing of a KAL plane in the Soviet Union.

Consumer confidence in the economy surged in April as concerns over finding jobs dropped to a six-year low, the Conference Board reported. Also, wages and salaries rose 3.2 percent in the year ended in March, matching the gain in the 12 months ended in March 1992. But benefit costs were up just 2.2 percent, tying for the smallest increase on record.

The Postal Service placed limits on credit-card sales. The post office began accepting credit cards a year ago as a convenience for individuals and small businesses. But credit sales suddenly became popular with big mailers, too, who sometimes charged tens of thousands of dollars. So post offices stopped accepting credit cards for postage meter payments, bulk mail fees, and payment into business advance-payment accounts.

THE WORLD

Fighting erupted between rival factions in Liberia after the collapse of a 10-day-old truce that forced the government to flee its headquarters. The renewed fighting threatens hopes for a peaceful end to the urban warfare that has turned the capital into a battle zone.

Workers in the Congress of South African Trade Unions held a one-day strike protesting the new constitution. Workers are opposed to a proposed provision that would let employers lock out employees during labor disputes. The constitution is to be adopted next week, if last-minute differences can be worked out.

Christians and Muslims united to mourn at a mass funeral for the 91 Lebanese killed in an Israeli attack on a UN base in Qana.