News In Brief

THE US

Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote the Senate Whitewater Committee that she doesn't know how her billing records were removed from her law firm to reappear two year later in the White House. Her lawyer called the leak of a draft of the committee's findings before Clinton's answers were ready "a last-minute hit-and-run smear unworthy of a congressional committee engaged in a serious search for the truth." Also, Republicans said she may have been involved in obtaining more than 400 sensitive FBI background files in 1993 and 1994. The House Government Reform Committee plans to begin hearings tomorrow on the FBI files scandal.

In a 5-to-4 vote, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Utah to allow partial reinstatement of a law that restricts abortion. The decision sets aside a lower-court ruling invalidating the law as an undue burden on women's privacy. The court also ruled that women raped and tortured in the former Yugoslavia can sue Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in the US for crimes against humanity. The court also agreed to decide whether Congress, through the so-called Brady gun law, can require local law-enforcement officials to do background checks on prospective gun buyers; and to consider whether US officials in Hong Kong can refuse immigration visas to Vietnamese boat people seeking entry into the US.

The Christian Coalition plans to hold a summit today in Atlanta with pastors of 36 southern black churches hit by arson over the last 18 months. Meanwhile, arson investigators are looking for clues among the remains of the mainly black Hills Chapel Baptist Church in Rocky Point, N.C., which was hit by an overnight fire. They also are investigating a blaze at the predominantly white Pine Lake Baptist Church in Stone Mountain, Ga. A member of the Mt. Zion AME church in Greeleyville, S.C., sings and dances in a new sanctuary built after the old church was destroyed by arson.

France and the US quietly signed an agreement June 4 to allow scientists to share more information on nuclear weapons, The Washington Post reported. One provision allows the countries to share for the first time computer data drawn from simulated nuclear bomb explosions. The signing was secret to avoid public controversy, officials said.

Majority leader Trent Lott is trying to dispel impressions that the Senate would be more conservative and confrontational under his wing. He told CBS "Face the Nation" he has given Senate Democrats a new proposal for breaking the minimum-wage deadlock. And he vowed to work with President Clinton on health-insurance legislation.

"Cut." That's what Walt Disney Company reportedly has decided to do with its film production. After numerous box-office flops, the company said it will reduce its yearly production of 35 to 40 films by half. The decision reportedly marks the first effort by a major Hollywood company to limit its output because of an increasingly difficult market

American students read as well or better than their counterparts in 30 other countries, with the exception of children in Finland, a survey by Washington's National Center for Education Statistics found. The report examined a 1992 study comparing reading comprehension of fourth- and ninth-graders.

Firefighters say winds could complicate their efforts to contain a brush fire about 65 miles south of Salt Lake City. The blaze is threatening a vital power substation and lines that feed electricity to Los Angeles and Los Vegas. In California, a fire in San Bernardino County destroyed cars and trailers as it swept over 360 acres. On the Colorado-New Mexico border, nearly 1,000 firefighters are battling a blaze that has consumed 16,000 acres.

About half of Americans would be willing to pay more taxes to help put welfare recipients to work, an Associated Press poll found. About 7 in 10 favor lifetime limits on welfare payments of five years. Some 65 percent said single mothers shouldn't be on welfare for more than two years if they can work.

Alaskans are peeling off the layers. Bethel saw its highest temperature - a steamy 77 degrees. That broke a record of 74 degrees set a decade ago.

THE WORLD

The US dropped its threat of sanctions against China after the two countries reached an 11th-hour agreement on copyright piracy, China's Xinhua news agency reported. The accord averts a multibillion dollar trade war and says China will take steps to stamp out piracy of US entertainment and software products.

Russian President Yeltsin headed for a narrow victory over Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov. The two will face each other in a runoff in early July. Elections were "generally free and fair," the Organization for Security in Europe said. But the OSCE expressed concern about complaints that state-owned media campaign coverage was biased.

Israeli Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to present his coalition Cabinet for parliamentary approval today. His Cabinet reportedly sidelines or excludes rivals, favoring technocrats over longtime politicians. Also, Netanyahu confirmed he does not intend to turn over the Golan Heights to Syria or allow an independent Palestinian state, but says he wants to hold talks with Syria and the Palestinians. And Israeli troops arrested a suspect in Sunday's murder of an Israeli policeman in the West Bank.

Northern Ireland peace negotiations resumed in Belfast after this weekend's IRA bombing in Manchester, England. Ulster Unionists stepped up pressure for Sinn Fein, the IRA's political wing, to be completely barred from talks as a result of the bombing. Sinn Fein says it won't tolerate being made a scapegoat.

New Zealand's Mt. Ruapehu volcano erupted for the second time in a year, sending a fountain of ash and steam gushing eight miles above the crater. There were no reports of injuries, but officials evacuated nearby ski resorts and closed local airports.

An explosion destroyed a residential building in south Lebanon, killing at least six Palestinians and injuring 13. The cause of the explosion was not immediately clear. Three cases of weapons removed from the rubble were believed to have been stored in the apartment of an officer of the PLO's Fatah group.

Bad weather hampered aid workers' search for the Russian ship Zolotitsa, which is carrying about 450 Liberian refugees. Maritime officials picked up a distress signal from an unidentified Russian ship off Liberia's coast Saturday. The Zolotitsa, which has been at sea since May 26, was refused entry to several African countries. The refugees may be low on food and water.

Widespread flooding caused by heavy rains in Yemen killed more than 80 people in the central Shabwah Province and forced more than 10,000 Yemenis to flee their homes.

A string of human errors caused a Japanese destroyer to accidentally down a US warplane during exercises in the Pacific, Japan's media reported. Investigators found crew members failed to confirm the plane was out of range before opening fire. The pilots were rescued unhurt.

Albania's ruling Democrats won a partial rerun of a disputed general election by a landslide, vote officials said.

The war crimes trial of former SS captain Erich Priebke was halted until July 10 due to allegations from the military prosecutor of serious irregularities and prejudice by the judges.

Iraq, Syria, Israel, and South Africa were among 23 countries accepted into the international Conference on Disarmament.

"There were white evangelicals in the South who justified Jim Crow and segregation and invoked Scripture to do it ... I think that was wrong, I think we paid a price for that."

- Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed asking Christians to promote racial reconciliation on NBC's "Meet the Press."

ETCETERAS

Paris antique dealer Pierre de Souzy says he's found what may be Joan of Arc's armor. The 15th-century armor is five-feet tall and shaped as though made for a woman. It has dents that correspond to wounds Joan received in her campaigns against the English. The suit resembles one in a drawing of Joan by her companion.

Gregory Jackson whooped his way through "Amazing Grace" to a third victory at the 28th Annual National Hollerin' Contest in Spivey's Corner, N.C. Judges say there's no particular criteria - they just know a good holler when they hear one.

Steve Jones came in two under par to win golf's US Open in Oakland Hills, Mich.

THE DAY'S LIST

Plants With Panache

Looking for unusual annuals to mix with those staid marigolds and prim pansies? Here are The Boston Globe's choices for the trendiest plants in gardening.

1. Nicotania langsdorfi - a fragrant, night-blooming plant.

2. Alternathera ( Joseph's coat) - a low, bushy plant with maroon leaves.

3. Helichrysum petiolatum (licorice plant) - Lovely silver foliage provides an antidote for gardeners tired of dusty millers.

4. Chocolate cosmo - chocolate-scented maroon flower.

5. Zinnia augustifolia - Care-free orange or white daisies bloom all summer.

6. Salvia guaranitica - Four-foot high rare blue flower.

7. Datura - Heavily scented, night-blooming container plant.

8. Mina lobata (crimson glory) - Vine grows nine feet a season; blooms June through November with tricolored red, orange, and cream flowers.

- Boston Globe

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