News In Brief

THE US

Congress launched into a busy week as Senator Dole returned to the Senate with a full plate before his June 11 departure. The Senate planned to vote today on a missile-defense system the GOP considers vital but that President Clinton has called misguided. The minimum-wage bill and balanced-budget amendment are likely to come up this week as well. Dole also hopes to enact a health-care bill that assures people of coverage when they switch jobs. And Republicans hope to move a major banking reform bill through the House tomorrow.

The Supreme Court began reviewing a law that limits most death-row prisoners to one appeal in federal court. The ruling, expected within a month, could affect more than 3,000 inmates. The court also agreed to hear the Clinton administration's argument that a lower court used the wrong legal standard to approve new districts in Louisiana. The revision includes no majority-black districts. Other decisions: It curtailed federal judges' power to send certain lawsuits to state courts; unanimously gave national banks the go-ahead to charge late-payment fees for credit-card holders, even in states that ban such levies; upheld the military death penalty.

Three armored cars moved to within four miles of the antigovernment "freemen" compound in Jordan, Mont. The FBI believes 18 people, three of them children, are inside the ranch.

Machinists at McDonnell Douglas Corp. in St. Louis rejected the company's latest contract offer and threatened to strike tomorrow. The union is protesting the company's increasing use of outside contractors and transfer of work to nonunion plants. Meanwhile, Boeing Company pulled out of a partnership with McDonnell Douglas to build a next-generation space shuttle, The Wall Street Journal reported. The decision occurred just before the companies were expected to be awarded a $900 million government contract for the project.

Ten more oxygen-producing canisters were found at the Everglades crash site of the ValuJet DC-9. Many were charred, adding to investigators' suspicions that a fire took place on the plane before it crashed. Aviation experts believe a fire on the jet produced deadly gases that would have killed the 110 people on board before the crash, The Miami Herald said.

Steady growth in the US. That's what April's 0.3 rise in the Index of Leading Economic Indicators indicates. The index aims to forecast economic activity six to nine months in advance. Figures indicate job growth and earnings gains through the end of the year. Also, US agricultural exports are expected to hit a record $60 billion this year, up 10 percent from 1995.

A weekend of rain wasn't enough to counter 10 months of drought in Texas, the National Weather Service in Fort Worth said. Up to three inches fell in parts of central Texas Sunday, causing flash floods in some areas. State agricultural officials say the drought could become the worst natural disaster to hit Texas this century.

The company behind Century 21 real estate and Days Inn hotels is considering buying the Avis car rental company in a deal that could top $1 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported. HFS Inc. is in preliminary talks with the employee-owned Avis Inc., sources close to the negotiations said.

The number of children living in poor families increased by 30 percent between 1989 and 1994, according to a study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Washington. A minimum-wage job that supported a family of three in the 1960s only provides 70 percent of what's needed today to keep that family out of poverty, the charity says.

Genetic testing is set to begin to try to determine who killed the pregnant wife of Sam Sheppard, whose conviction of her murder inspired the tv series "The Fugitive." Blood samples from suspect Richard Eberling are being examined.

THE WORLD

Israeli Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu promised the US to continue the quest for peace in the Middle East. Netanyahu said he's made plans with the leaders of Egypt and Jordan to meet soon. The US will work with Netanyahu to ensure Israel keeps its promise to withdraw from the West Bank town of Hebron, US ambassador Martin Indyk said. In Hebron, Israeli troops clashed with Palestinians after they searched an unmarked Palestinian police car. Also, a bomb exploded in a West Bank olive grove, injuring four Israelis.

Syrian President Assad refused to commit to peace talks with Israel until he learned more about Netanyahu's positions. Assad and Egypt's President Mubarak held talks in Cairo on the fate of the Middle East peace process after Netanyahu's election. Also, Mubarak and Assad agreed Netanyahu's victory speech - which did not mention peace with Damascus or returning occupied Arab territory - "did not inspire optimism," but said the two countries would wait and see what policies Netanyahu adopted before deciding on a course of action. The talks came a day after Mubarak met with Lebanese President Hrawi.

Bahrain arrested 29 militants in what it said was a foiled Iranian plot to overthrow its government. The country said it's recalling its ambassador in Tehran and downgrading diplomatic representation. Iran planned to stage an armed rebellion and replace the Al Khalifa family with a Shiite Muslim regime patterned after Iran's, Bahrain's information minister said.

Russian President Yeltsin signed a mutual cooperation accord with the presidents of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan in Kislovodsk, Russia. Also, Chechen rebels agreed to meet for peace talks, Russian officials said, while continuing skirmishes dashed hopes of a cease-fire. Also, two new election polls give Yeltsin double-digit leads over Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov.

NATO foreign ministers backed a plan for a more visible European role in the alliance and a review of NATO's military command structure at a meeting in Berlin. Both measures are designed to bring France fully back into the alliance and prepare for an expansion that may eventually double NATO's size.

More than 10,000 delegates met in Istanbul, Turkey, for the UN global conference on human settlements, Habitat II. The conference will take up issues linked to housing, poverty, and the environment in the 21st century, when more than 3 billion people are expected to live in towns.

There is little point in holding elections if Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic remains in power, Bosnian media said. The longer Karadzic stays in power, the harder it will be to hold elections, Robert Frowick, the US official overseeing Bosnia's elections, said. The September elections are dogged by "monumental difficulties" regarding freedom of movement and the guarantee of a secret ballot, but the international community is making progress, Frowick said.

Britain launched a diplomatic mission to get the ban on British beef lifted while continuing its noncooperation policy toward the EU. Britain will present a document detailing plans for the eradication of mad cow disease, Agriculture Minister Douglas Hogg said. He was hopeful the EU would lift the ban on beef gelatin, tallow, and semen soon.

Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus vowed to hold onto power after weekend elections cost him his parliamentary majority. Also, President Havel stepped into the fray, summoning Klaus, his junior coalition partners, and opposition leader Milos Zeman to separate talks.

Turkish troops killed an unarmed Greek Cypriot soldier in a UN buffer zone on the divided island. Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides condemned the shooting as "cold-blooded murder."

ETCETERAS

''Strength, security - that is the basis for real peace." -- Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu, during his victory speech.

Ninety-two percent of 500 graduating US college seniors didn't know that the phrase "Government of the people, by the people...." was part of President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, a poll commissioned by "The American" newspaper found. Three-quarters didn't know Italy and Japan were Germany's principal allies in World War II.

A 3-ton, 24-ft. high bronze sculpture is touring the US before taking its place in Atlanta as the symbol of the Olympics. Richard MacDonald of Monterey, Calif., sculpted "The Flair" - named after a gymnastics move made famous by US Olympian Kurt Thomas.

THE DAY'S LIST

French Open Winners

The 65th international French Open ends this weekend. On Monday, defending champion Thomas Muster of Austria was defeated by Michael Stich of Germany. The Open, founded in 1891, was a closed tournament for French Nationals until 1925. This list of players with the most titles covers winners since then.

1. Chris Evert-Lloyd, US 7

2. Bjorn Borg, Sweden 6

3. Margaret Court, Australia 5

4. Henri Cochet, France 4

4. Helen Wills-Moody, US 4

6. Ren Lacoste, France 3

6. Hilde Sperling, Germany 3

6. Yvon Petra, France 3

6. Ivan Lendl, Czechoslovakia 3

6. Mats Wilander, Sweden 3

6. Monica Seles, Yugoslavia 3

6. Steffi Graf, Germany 3

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

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