News In Brief

THE US

A House committee approved $245.7 billion in 1997 defense spending. Budget Director Alice Rivlin said the bill should be vetoed because it was $11 billion more than he requested. Also, the House passed a bill to increase criminal penalties and fines for sales of counterfeit goods, such as infant formula and plane parts, in the US. The House also voted to authorize $422 million worth of improvements at Veterans Affairs medical facilities in 12 states. And Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) of Utah proposed a bill to combat computer-aided child pornography.

The presidential primary season came to a close with Senator Dole claiming easy victories in the GOP race in New Jersey, Montana, New Mexico, and Alabama. President Clinton also won all four states.

The White House nominated Adm. Jay Johnson for the Navy's top post to replace Adm. Jeremy Boorda, who committed suicide. Johnson was promoted three months ago to the No. 2 spot. Also, Clinton is expected to nominate former Vermont Gov. Madeleine Kunin, the Education Department's No. 2 official, as US ambassador to Switzerland.

A federal judge ordered Clinton to testify via videotape again - this time in the Little Rock, Ark., trial of two bankers accused of reimbursing themselves and others for political campaign contributions, including Clinton's 1990 gubernatorial campaign. Also, the FBI identified fingerprints of four people other than Hillary Rodham Clinton and Vincent Foster on billing records that mysteriously reappeared in the White House. And the Senate Whitewater Committee split down partisan lines on whether to grant immunity to David Hale for his testimony.

Some 6,700 machinists at the St. Louis McDonnell Douglas plant went on strike to protest the aerospace company's growing use of nonunion workers.

The estranged husband of Congresswoman Enid Waldholtz (R) of Utah pleaded guilty to four criminal charges, including violations of federal election laws involving her 1994 campaign.

The Senate voted 53 to 46 along party lines for a debate and vote on Bob Dole's missile defense bill, which would require deployment of a national missile defense system by 2003. But the Republican majority fell short of the 60 votes needed to break a Democratic filibuster.

Congressional Republicans introduced a bill calling for NATO expansion at a news conference attended by former Polish President Lech Walesa, Dole, and Gingrich. The bill would assist countries in Eastern Europe region in taking the necessary steps to join the Western alliance.

Investigators continued to zero in on the cause of the ValuJet crash in Florida's Everglades with recovery of a crucial cockpit panel. It's the same one a mechanic removed to repair a circuit breaker while the plane was in Atlanta May 11 before flying to Miami, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reported.

Either a metal sliver jutting out of a braided wire or aluminum shavings on a reel mechanism punctured insulation in a tether in February, causing a $400 million space shuttle experiment to fail, concluded a board investigating the mishap.

Wisconsin state Sen. George Petak (R) lost his seat in a recall election to Rep. Kim Plache (D). Petak angered his Racine County voters when he flip-flopped on a five-county sales tax increase to fund a new Milwaukee Brewers stadium. Plache's victory gives Democrats a 17-to-16 majority in the state's Senate.

Clinton told a group of small-business owners they should receive a tax credit for subsidizing their employees' education. His proposal followed release of a report by the GOP that showed Clinton vetoed eight bills containing some of the 60 top recommendations made at last summer's White House Conference on Small Business. Vetos were necessary because the bills included unacceptable cuts in other programs, the White House responded.

A 6,000-acre wildfire forced evacuation of up to 1,000 residents in communities north of Anchorage. Some 225 firefighters were on the scene in the semi-rural area, one of the fastest growing regions in the state. Gov. Tony Knowles requested emergency funds after declaring the zone a disaster area, where 50 to 100 homes have burned.

THE WORLD

Britain and Ireland put the final touches on the formula for Northern Ireland peace talks starting Monday. The format will include a role for former US Sen. George Mitchell and two international advisers who devised a plan for disarming the IRA. Mitchell's role had been an obstacle to agreement.

The EU voted to relax a nine-week ban on British beef in Brussels, by allowing exports of beef fat, gelatin, and bull semen. But Germany will retain a complete ban. And Britain, which has blocked 40 EU decisions, says it wants a timetable for removing the ban completely before it will end its noncooperation tactics.

Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu's election as prime minister will stand, Israel's High Court ruled. The court unanimously rejected petitions that called for a new ballot.

The Middle East peace process is on track, but Netanyahu should stick to a process based on exchanging land for peace with its Arab neighbors, said Egypt's President Hosni Mu-barak, Jordan's King Hussein and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at a meeting in Aqaba, Jordan.

Chechen rebel leaders laid down stringent demands on the second day of peace talks with Russian officials in Nazran, Russia. The rebels called for a withdrawal of Russian troops by July 1 and closing of military checkpoints within days, a demand Russia deemed unacceptable. But Chechens said they would forgo immediate demands for independence until people had a chance to vote on the republic's status.

Six Sudanese refugees were killed and 47 hospitalized in two days of fighting at a refugee camp in northern Kenya. The fighting was between rival Nuer and Dinka tribes at Kakuma refugee camp. Also, in southern Sudan the deaths of more than 700 people were attributed to cholera.

US assistant trade representative Lee Sands arrived in Beijing for tomorrow's talks on copyright piracy as China announced a major crackdown on intellectual property piracy.

Turkey's True Path Party will vote against its coalition partner in a no-confidence vote scheduled for this weekend, a party official said. The decision effectively dooms Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz's coalition. Also, parliament decided not to investigate the source of former Prime Minister Tansu Ciller's wealth.

Burundi's Army blamed Hutu rebels for the killing of three Swiss Red Cross workers at a refugee camp. The International Committee of the Red Cross temporarily suspended operations in Burundi because of the murders.

Japan will give $18,500 to each Asian woman forced into sexual slavery during World War II. Compensation will be accompanied by a written apology from Prime Minister Hashimoto, the Asian Women's Fund said.

Nigerian police stopped thousands of students in the town of Ibadan from protesting the murder of Kudirat Abiola, the wife of detained presidential claimant Moshood Abiola, witnesses said.

Tanzanian officials dropped murder charges against Jumanne Rume, captain of the ferry that capsized in Lake Victoria, killing hundreds of people. Rume and eight other officials were released unconditionally from jail. Attorney General Andrew Chenge said the state acted prematurely in charging the nine with murder: Criminal prosecution should await the outcome of the government's investigation. But the release could also be a first step to substituting a lesser charge of manslaughter, analysts say.

The US and Norway froze aid to Zambia to protest constitutional amendments aimed at banning former President Kenneth Kaunda from running in elections. Under the amendment, presidential candidates must be second-generation Zambians.

Nepali climbers collected 4,400 lb of trash from Mt. Everest, but about 6,818 lb of decades-old garbage still litters the world's highest mountain.

ETCETERAS

''One does not write for children. One writes so that children can understand. Which means writing as clearly, vividly, and truthfully as possible. Adults might put up with occasional lapses; children are far less tolerant." -- Carnegie-winning children's author Leon Garfield, who died Sunday.

An Oregon rabbit named Beethoven has created a mobile home on the woolly back of a llama, Sundance Kid. Beethoven sleeps in his live nest when it's cold, and frequently goes for a ride on his friend's back on chilly mornings. Beethoven, a family pet for three years, was set free and started riding on the llama in November.

Pamela Davis pitched her way into sports history when she helped the Jacksonville Suns to a 7-2 win against the Australian Olympic team in Florida. Davis is the first woman to play for a major league farm club. Davis was also the first girl on her high school baseball team, and the first to pitch in the Junior League World Series in 1988.

It was a record year for Great White Way: Grosses for Broadway and the road topped $1.24 billion. Also, the number of shows opening on Broadway jumped to 38, up from 29 in 1994-95.

THE DAY'S LIST

How Countries Weigh In On the Corruption Scale

Here's how businessmen from 54 countries view the world's nations. The second-annual corruption index by Berlin-based Transparency International collated data from up to 10 business surveys to assess how people working for multinational firms perceived the degree of corruption in any country.

LEAST (The US rated 15th.)

1. New Zealand

2. Denmark

3. Sweden

4. Finland

5. Canada

6. Norway

7. Singapore

MOST

1. Nigeria

2. Pakistan

3. Kenya

4. Bangladesh

5. China

- Associated Press

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