News In Brief

THE US

Republicans leveled unrelenting criticism at the Clintons in the Senate Whitewater Committee's final report. There is enough suspicious activity, attempts to hide information, and outright lying going on to demonstrate a "pattern of concealment and obstruction" surrounding the Clintons for the last 20 years, they concluded. Hillary Rodham Clinton was accused of covering up her work on a fraudulent land development in Little Rock, Ark. Democrats on the committee accused the GOP of stretching the evidence.

A House panel opens hearings today on the FBI files controversy. David Livingstone, head of the White House personnel office that collected the files of more than 400 people, was put on administrative leave during an internal review. The White House said it's reorganizing the department and wants a new senior manager with more experience in security-related matters.

ValuJet Airlines planned to announce personnel and organizational changes after pulling its planes from the skies. The Federal Aviation Administration requested the grounding after several serious deficiencies, mainly maintenance problems, were found in ValuJet's operations. ValuJet called the FAA action "grossly unfair" and said it hoped to be flying again in 30 days.

The Christian Coalition announced it would ask 100,000 churches to help raise $1 million for religious sanctuaries that have been burned or bombed in recent months. Also, about two-dozen federal agents were to descend on Alabama sites where two black churches were destroyed by suspicious fires. And a man described as retarded admitted he used gasoline to start a fire that destroy a church in Enid, Okla.

President Clinton planned to outline two welfare reform programs. One would help states track down parents delinquent on child-support payments. The other would require mothers to name a child's father when they apply for benefits. Also, Republican leaders sent a letter to Clinton expressing dismay that the White House reportedly won't accept the Wisconsin welfare waivers without several changes. Wisconsin has requested the waivers to carry out an innovative welfare-to-work program Clinton basically supports.

The US will join Russia, Britain, China, and France to insist Israel, India, and Pakistan accept a global ban on nuclear explosions, The Washington Post reported. The decision by the National Security Council has been questioned by Clinton administration members since it might allow India and Pakistan to block implementation of a test ban.

Workplace productivity grew 2.1 percent in the first quarter - the fastest pace in more than two years, the Labor Department said. Yet worker compensation grew just 0.1 percent at an inflation-adjusted annual rate. Also, housing starts fell 4.7 percent in May after four months of steadily rising mortgage rates. Construction fell to its lowest level since December, declining in every region except the south.

A cast of thousands - from actors to screenwriters - can sue seven major movie studios for allegedly hiding millions of dollars in profits through questionable accounting practices, US District Judge Robert Takasugi ruled. He granted class-action status to the antitrust allegations, including price-fixing and collusion, in response to a lawsuit by the heirs of Jim Garrison. The heirs filed a lawsuit in November charging Warner Bros. and six other major studios conspired to hide profits. Warner Bros.'s movie "JFK" was based on Garrison's book.

Eleven states and three foreign countries are about to file suit against the tobacco industry to recover money spent treating ailing smokers, Mississippi's Attorney General Michael Moore says. He was addressing a Florida conference on tobacco litigation. Eight states followed Mississippi's lead when it filed a state-led lawsuit against cigarette makers in 1994.

THE WORLD

Israeli Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu was to present his coalition Cabinet to parliament. It's primarily comprised of moderates, with no spot for hard-liners Ariel Sharon or David Levy. The position of defense minister will be retained by the prime minister's office. Also, Netanyau called on Israel's Arab neighbors to "widen the circle of peace." While Netanyahu said he would pursue talks with Syria, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia with no preconditions, he warned that Israel's security is his top priority and the Army would have "full freedom of action to act against terrorism."

Former Russian Gen. Alexander Lebed went to work in his new job as Security Council head by establishing control over army units around Moscow. Lebed said hard-line officers planned to use the military to "put pressure on the president." President Yeltsin named Lebed Security Council head in an effort to garner Lebed's support before July's runoff election. Yeltsin also dismissed Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, a Lebed rival.

Japan, France, and Germany are the world's top three aid donors, according to a new report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The US slipped to fourth place as US contributions dropped 26 percent last year. In fact, the world's richest nations gave the smallest proportion of their wealth to developing nations in 25 years.

Canada and Mexico announced they plan to challenge the US Helms-Burton law, which aims to punish foreign companies doing business with Cuba. Canada and Mexico say they plan to ask for a meeting of the Free Trade Commission, made up of commerce ministers of the three NAFTA partners, to voice complaints. Also, Canada proposed retaliatory legislation that would allow Canadians to countersue in Canadian courts to recover damages awarded by US courts under the Helms-Burton law.

Burma's Army is forcing thousands of villagers from their homes in Kayah state in an attempt to isolate ethnic minority guerrillas, said opposition sources. So far an estimated 10,000 people from 96 villages have been forced to relocate. Those who refuse to move reportedly will be shot on sight.

Sumitomo Corp. said it may consider legal action against copper trader Yasuo Hamanaka, who saddled it with the biggest financial market loss in history. Separately, in New York a US grand jury was convened to investigate the affair. Also, Japan's parliament approved a $6.3 billion bailout of bankrupt housing lenders that collapsed under bad loans made to real estate speculators during the early 1990s.

The Russian ship Zolotitsa returned to Monrovia with its cargo of about 450 Liberian refugees after being stranded at sea for more than three weeks, port officials said. Earlier, the UN said it would join the search for the ship, which had not been heard from in more than a week.

A US military team arrived in Laos to help clear out bombs and other explosives left behind after the Vietnam War. The team will train Laotians to find and destroy the millions of unexploded bombs strewn across the country. The effort is part of a US program to clear nine countries, including Cambodia and Somalia, of mines and other explosives.

Brazil has the most uneven distribution of wealth in the world, despite some progress made during the early 1990s, a new UN report said. The richest 10 percent hold 65 percent of Brazil's wealth, while the poorest 40 percent share just 12 percent.

Australia's church and medical groups launched a legal challenge to the world's first law permitting assisted suicides.

"[Republicans] seem to believe that the way to turn their tattered campaign into a Cinderella story is to engage in the politics of Pinocchio: Forget about the truth, tell a bunch of lies, and let someone else pull the strings." - Vice President Al Gore in a speech in Philadelphia.

ETCETERAS

Sixty years after Germany denied her a place on its track team because she was Jewish, Margaret Bergman Lambert will be attending the 1996 Games in Atlanta as a guest of the German Olympic Committee, The New York Times reported. Lambert held Germany's record for the high jump - 5 feet, 3 inches - in 1936, the year she was denied a slot. A Hungarian took the gold at the 1936 Berlin Games, with a jump of 5 feet, 3 inches.

Kevin Reeder received a response to his message in a bottle 18 years and 25,000 miles after he sent it floating down New York's Lake Cayuga. His note, asking for a letter from anyone who found the bottle, was mailed back in February with greetings from San Diego, Calif.

Poets, astronomers, attorneys, and community organizers are among the 21 1996 recipients of grants from the MacArthur Foundation. Also, Eiko and Koma Otake became the first married couple to share a grant for a new dance hybrid.

THE DAY'S LIST

Sites that House History

The National Trust for Historic Preservation's annual list of the most endangered places in the US. All sites are new to the list, and a last-minute addition of the nation's black churches - suddenly endangered by a series of arsons - expanded it to a dozen for the first time.

1. Sotterley Plantation in Hollywood, Md.

2. Central High School in Little Rock, Ark.

3. Knight Foundry in Sutter Creek, Calif.

4. Adobe churches of New Mexico.

5. Historic structures of Glacier National Park.

6. Uptown Theater, Chicago.

7. The village of Petoskey, Mich.

8. Harry S. Truman Historic District, Independence, Mo.

9. East End Historic District, Newburgh, N.Y.

10. Wentworth by the Sea Hotel, New Castle, N.H.

11. East Broad Top Railroad, Huntington County, Pa.

12. Black churches

- Associated Press

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