News In Brief

THE US

The Senate passed a bill targeting illegal immigration. The bill would double the number of border guards and increase penalties for document fraud and alien smuggling. The House has passed a similar measure, and Clinton may see a final version in the next few months. Also, the Senate approved the Ryan White CARE Act. The bill extends federal AIDS assistance for five years and calls for mandatory AIDS testing of newborns in four years if volunteer levels are too low. Clinton says he's eager to sign the bill.

The Supreme Court granted an early review of a death-row inmate's constitutional challenge to new limits on federal appeals by state prisoners. The inmate, who was to have been executed Thursday, was spared as the court granted review nine days after Clinton signed the law aimed at speeding executions. The last time the court granted such a quick review was in 1990. A decision is expected by July.

Senator Dole says he's resurrecting the balanced-budget amendment this week. A vote could come as early as next week. Dole promised to reintroduce the amendment when a similar proposal failed by a single vote in the Senate last year. Also, Dole thinks Congress will raise the minimum wage, although perhaps not in the form the Democrats are proposing.

A wildfire in Arizona's Tonto National Forest has been contained and should be out by midnight. The fire blazed for eight days, blackening more than 61,000 acres.

A newly declassified document lends weight to claims that POW smuggling occurred after the Korean War. Soviet defector Yuri Rastvorov told the White House in 1955 that US prisoners of war in North Korea had been taken secretly to Siberia to be exploited for information purposes. Meanwhile, the US and North Korea resumed talks on the fate of more than 8,100 US soldiers who were listed as missing in action after the Korean War.

Members of the militant "freemen" group were no-shows at a proposed meeting with the FBI to discuss ways to end the six-week stand-off. Meanwhile, a nationwide FBI alert reportedly warns that militia extremists plan to wage war on the government and the media if the "freemen" are attacked.

Indiana became the eighth state to file a class-action suit against tobacco companies. The state is suing for an unspecified amount, alleging companies hid knowledge about nicotine's nature and manipulated nicotine levels in cigarettes. At least 10 more governments are planning to sue, Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore says.

US unemployment dropped to 5.4 percent in April - the lowest level in 14 months. The dip came despite heavy job losses in construction and manufacturing.

The crime rate fell for the fourth straight year in 1995, the FBI said. Murders posted the largest decline among violent crimes, dropping 8 percent from 23,300 killings in 1994.

Secretary of State Christopher is to meet today in Mexico for two days of talks. US and Mexican officials say ties between neighbors are closer than ever, despite border conflicts over drugs and migrants.

Americans soon may be able to listen to the same radio station while driving coast to coast. After four years of work, the Federal Communications Commission is finalizing a plan that would create a new breed of station. It would be transmitted by satellite and use digital technology to give CD-quality sound.

It's about to get more expensive to retire to the Florida Keys. Citing damage from Hurricane Opal, Florida Windstorm Underwriting Association is hiking insurance rates 92 percent in Key West and 75 percent for the rest of Monroe County June 1.

A 100-year-old water main burst near Times Square, flooding streets and disrupting traffic and subway service.

THE WORLD

Tomorrow, the UN War Crimes Tribunal opens its first trial since the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials held after World War II. Bosnian Serb Dusan Tadic is on trial for alleged atrocities against Muslims and Croats at the Omarska prison camp in 1992. Tadic denies any wrongdoing.

Jose Maria Aznar was sworn in as Spain's prime minister by King Juan Carlos. Aznar said his top priorities are streamlining government to cut the $359 billion national debt, make Spain eligible for a single European currency, and combat the country's 22.7 percent unemployment rate.

Israeli Prime Minister Peres will decide this week when to pull Israeli troops out of the West Bank town of Hebron, Israel's Army radio said. Peres delayed the March 29 move after Islamic militants set off four suicide bombs in Israel. And Hizbullah guerrilla leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah vowed to avenge the deaths of Lebanese civilians killed by Israeli shelling, the Independent reported.

Colombia's Attorney General Orlando Vasquez surrendered to police to face charges he took money from the Cali drug cartel. He denies accepting drug money to finance his failed 1994 Senate reelection campaign.

Liberia's warring factions resumed street battles in Monrovia after a brief lull in fighting. Earlier, US Marines airlifted warlord Roosevelt Johnson to Accra, Ghana, for peace talks. Factional leaders who refuse to join the talks will be denied entry to the US, the State Department said.

The Belarussian Parliament voted 166 to 3 to ratify a union treaty with Russia that will link their economic and political systems. Separately, an influential aide to President Yeltsin told the Observer that postponing the June 21 elections will be in the best interest of Russia.

Former Algerian Interior Minister Mohamed Hardi was assassinated in Oued Smar, a stronghold of the militant Armed Islamic Group. No one claimed responsibility for the attack.

Seven bombs went off simultaneously in Bahrain's capital, Manama. No one was injured and no one has claimed responsibility for the bombings, early reports said. Bahraini officials have blamed previous attacks on Shi'ite Muslim protesters seeking economic and political reforms.

Disarmament negotiators in Geneva agreed on a compromise deal tightening the use of land mines. The accord gave nine years for nations such as China and Russia to phase out non-detectable mines and switch to the relative safety of detectable, self-destructive variety.

The Inner Mongolian city of Baotou was hit by aftershocks in the wake of a 6.4 magnitude earthquake. At least 18 people were killed, 315 injured, and about 90,000 people reported homeless.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard called for a total ban on semiautomatic weapons, a national gun register, and uniform gun laws. Last week's massacre of 35 people in Tasmania has led to a massive public outcry for stronger gun laws.

Burundi's Army killed 235 Hutus, mostly women and children, in a military operation in Buhoro last month, humanitarian sources said.

Indian Prime Minister Rao's Congress Party would have a slight lead in a hung Parliament, according to the latest Times of India opinion poll. Previous polls forecast the Bharatiya Janata Party as the single largest winner.

Prime Minister Major's Conservative Party lost 536 of the 1,000 municipal council seats they were defending. Labor gained 432, and the Liberal Democrats 143.

ETCETERAS

"I thought the nominating conventions were held in August. I didn't know they would be held right here in the Finance Committee." -- Sen. David Pryor (D) of Arkansas, on Senator Dole's use of hearings to push for a gasoline tax repeal.

Some California women are surprised to learn they are considered unwed mothers - because they don't use their husbands' names. California does not include marital status of the parents on a child's birth certificate. So if a new mother signs the paper with her maiden name, and the baby has the father's name, the couple is presumed unwed.

A plaster cast of George Washington's face, made at Mount Vernon in 1785 before he became president was sold at a New York auction for $1.1 million.

THE DAY'S LIST

Top 10 Tennis Pros

Pete Sampras maintained his status as the No. 1 men's tennis player ahead of this month's French Open.

Men:

1. Pete Sampras, US

2. Thomas Muster, Austria

3. Andre Agassi, US

4. Michael Chang, US

5. Boris Becker, Germany

6. Goran Ivanisevic, Croatia

7. Thomas Enqvist, Sweden

8. Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Russia

9. Jim Courier, US

10. Wayne Ferreira, South Africa

Women:

1. Steffi Graf, Germany

1. Monica Seles, US

3. Conchita Martinez, Spain

4. Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Spain

5. Iva Majoli, Croatia

6. Anke Huber, Germany

7. Chanda Rubin, US

8. Kimiko Date, Japan

9. Gabriela Sabatini, Argentina

10. Magdalena Maleeva, Bulgaria

- Associated Press

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