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News In Brief

By CompiledCynthia Hanson and Yvonne Zipp / May 23, 1996



THE US

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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.

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.