News In Brief

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THE US

The House was expected to approve a 90-cent minimum wage increase - from $4.25 to $5.15. Under the measure, a 50-cent-an-hour increase would take place July 1, followed by an additional 40-cent hike a year later. Hours before the vote, House Democrats accused Republicans of trying to scuttle the bill by attempting to exempt employees of many small businesses. Earlier, the House passed a bill that would cut the 4.3-cent gasoline tax through 1996, returning the tax to its pre-1993 level of 14-cents per gallon.

The GOP tabled legislation to build a national missile defense system after the Congressional Budget Office estimated the cost over five years for a ground- and space-based system at $31 billion to $60 billion. The Republican's estimates for a ground-based system only over five years was $5 billion.

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Divers searching the Everglades crash site of the ValuJet DC-9 came up nearly empty-handed and don't plan to return to the pit. They found just two fragments and didn't locate the voice cockpit recorder. Pat Cariseo, spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, indicated the plane may have been pulverized when it crashed. A salvage company is expected to begin dredging the site soon.

Frozen food tycoon Gordon Smith won 79 percent of the vote in Oregon to take the seat vacated by retiring Sen. Mark Hatfield. Smith, a Republican, lost a special election in January to Democrat Ron Wyden in a bid for the seat of Sen. Bob Packwood, who resigned after being accused of sexual and official misconduct.

In Arkansas, Attorney General Winston Bryant and state Sen. Lu Hardin face a June 11 runoff election after becoming the top contenders in a five-man Democratic Senate primary. The winner faces uncontested Republican Lt. Gov. Mike Huckabee in the fall.

Federal trade regulators voted to file antitrust charges against Toys 'R' Us. The FTC said the nation's largest toy company "has used it market power to keep toy prices higher."

The space shuttle "Endeavour" released a trash can-sized satellite that uses Earth's magnetic field to keep pointed in the right direction. Scientists hope the satellite will prove that future crafts can be controlled without conventional steering methods. And a giant antenna, inflated earlier to test new technology, burned up over the Atlantic.

German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Clinton plan to visit Milwaukee today. Advance teams for the visit scouted the city's best German restaurants - the two men are known for their hearty appetites. Earlier, Clinton planned to deliver a commencement address on America's post- cold-war policy changes at the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn.

More than 100,000 New Yorkers experienced blackouts as temperatures soared to a record 93 degrees. On the West Coast, an earthquake measuring 4.8 shook much of northern California. No injuries were reported, and damage was minor. Northeastern Illinois braced for more rain after flooding in Lake County damaged some 200 homes.

Americans are giving more. US charities received donations of nearly $144 billion last year - a more than 10 percent increase over 1994. Religious congregations received the most contributions, a robust 44 percent. More effective fund-raising, a healthy stock market, and higher wages were cited for the increase. Congress's proposals to cut tax breaks for charitable giving also prompted more giving.

Severe teacher shortages in the nation's largest cities are forcing schools to hire uncertified teachers. So says a survey by Recruiting New Teachers, Inc., the Council of the Great City Schools, and the Council of the Great City Colleges of Education. Some 77 percent of the 39 school districts responding to the survey hire uncertified teachers. Special education, minority, and bilingual education instructors are needed, as well as math, science, and elementary teachers. Minority teachers are in greatest demand. The problem is expected to get worse with increasing enrollments and retirements.

THE WORLD

British Finance Minister Kenneth Clarke said he fully backed Prime Minister Major's threat to disrupt EU business with a policy of noncooperation if a worldwide ban on British beef isn't lifted by June 21. The European Commission said it would present a proposal June 3 to farm ministers to lift the ban on beef gelatin, semen, and tallow. EU veterinary experts rejected this same proposal Monday.

Burma's military junta continued arresting supporters of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in an attempt to block Sunday's meeting of Kyi's National League for Democracy. At least 90 pro-democracy activists have been arrested so far, though Kyi herself remains free. The congress will go on as scheduled.

India's first Hindu nationalist government, which took power this week, may be out by next after parliament's vote of confidence Monday. Most analysts say Bharatiya Janata Party leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who has referred to himself as "interim" prime minister, has no chance of winning the vote. Also, a bomb killed at least 22 bus passengers in Rajasthan. And a car bomb exploded in New Delhi, killing at least 12 people. The Jammu and Kashmir Islamic Front claimed responsibility for the blast.

Zambia's lawmakers adopted a controversial set of constitutional amendments to ban former President Kenneth Kaunda from running in this year's elections. Kaunda, who ruled the country from 1964 until he was ousted in Zambia's first democratic elections in 1991, is disqualified because he is not a second-generation Zambian. Under the rules, both candidates and their parents must be native Zambians. Kaunda's United National Independence Party says it will launch a civil disobedience campaign.

About 100 Tutsis were killed last week in Zaire by unidentified attackers, and at least 3,000 more are surrounded in two villages, Doctors Without Borders said. The aid agency urged the international community to evacuate the 3,000 Tutsis, saying they were in danger of being killed.

More than 40 Russians were killed in hand-to-hand fighting with Chechen rebels. The fighting occurred near a village where the separatists hold a missile base designed to withstand nuclear attack, Interfax news agency said.

More than 500 people are presumed dead after a ferry capsized in Lake Victoria, Tanzania. Rescuers from nearby ships saved about 120 people, but say they hold little hope of finding more survivors.

Former South African Defense Minister Magnus Malan must answer charges that he was responsible for the murder of 13 blacks, Judge Jan Hugo ruled in Durban. Hugo let three other defendants go free, citing a lack of evidence. The trial against the 17 remaining defendants will continue June 10.

Turkey's former Prime Minister Tansu Ciller called for Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz to resign. Ciller urged the creation of a broad-based government to replace the minority rule.

Six-year-old UN sanctions against Iraq are unjustified, and UN members who oppose lifting them are "unethical and criminal," Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said. Also, the United Arab Emirates will press Arab States and the West to help lift the sanctions, a UAE official said.

Central African Republic President Ange-Felix Patasse rejected Army mutineers' demands that he resign, as widespread violence and looting continued in Bangui. Also, a French military plane airlifted 130 French nationals to safety, and US Marines ferried about a dozen US citizens out of the area. Many more US citizens have sought refuge at the US embassy.

ETCETERAS

''It's like putting water in a sand hole." -- Michael Acosta, employment operations administer for the Los Angeles County School District, discussing a growing teacher shortage. As soon as one teacher is hired, the district immediately starts searching for another, he says.

The "ice maiden" debuted at the National Geographic Society in Washington after 500 years in a frozen tomb. Sacrificed to the gods as a teenager, dressed in fine alpaca wool, she was discovered on a Peruvian mountaintop last September by anthropologists.

Family Circus cartoon character Mommy is getting a new hairstyle after 36 years with a bob, thanks to a suggestion from fan Tim Vanderburg of Lubbock, Texas. Cartoonist Bill Keane unveiled Mommy's new "do" today.

Pepsi Cola said it was taking the cola wars to new heights with the first commercial filmed in space. Two cosmonauts from the Russian space station Mir carried a large replica of a Pepsi can on a space-walk.

THE DAY'S LIST

America's Favorite Veggie

The 15 best-tasting tomatoes according to the just-published "Horticulture Gardener's Desk Reference" (Macmillan, $35).

1. Bonny Best

2. Brandywine

3. Burpee's Delicious

4. Celebrity

5. Costoluto Genovese

6. Dona

7. Johnny's 361

8. Marglobe

9. Marmande

10. Persimmon

11. Pink Ponderosa

12. Pruden's Purple

13. Rutgers

14. Sweet 100

15. Tappy's Finest

- Associated Press

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