News In Brief

THE US

The Senate unanimously approved an amendment to the pending 1997 defense authorization bill designed to let the military and other federal agencies help local law-enforcement agencies develop skills to deal with nuclear, chemical, and biological terrorism. Earlier, it rejected a proposed amendment that would have extended the president's power to order nuclear weapons tests. The Senate also passed a $10 billion military construction spending package that includes large increases for the National Guard and Reserve.

The House was expected to give final approval to legislation stiffening penalties for arson in places of worship and strengthening federal authority to investigate such cases. Earlier, it axed the $40 million budget for President Clinton's AmeriCorps community service program. It approved an $84 billion spending bill to fund several key government agencies. The White House opposes the bill, saying the agencies are being short-changed. The House Appropriations Committee approved the smallest of 13 spending bills, giving $1.68 billion for the legislative branch.

A Whitewater prosecution witness supported defense assertions that there was no conspiracy involving White House aide Bruce Lindsey to hide large cash withdrawals by the 1990 Clinton gubernatorial campaign. Glenda Cooper, a volunteer in Clinton's 1990 campaign, said at the Little Rock, Ark., trial of two bankers that she was certain Lindsey believed the withdrawal would be reported properly.

Colin Powell may be interested in the post of secretary of state. That's according to veteran Washington Post reporter and editor Bob Woodward, who said on "Larry King Live" that an authoritative source told him that if Dole won the presidential election and offered Powell the No. 1 Cabinet post, Powell would accept.

Time Warner and Turner Broadcasting, seeking to protect their $7.5 billion merger, took their case directly to senior Federal Trade Commission officials, The Wall Street Journal reported. The companies are seeking a settlement that would allow the merger to go through with only a few changes and without a court fight, the report said. Earlier, FTC investigators said the merger should be stopped because it hurts competition.

NASA's "Galileo" spacecraft swooped within 524 miles of the solar system's largest moon - Jupiter's Ganymede. Scientists say Ganymede may have an iron or rock core beneath water and ice. Elsewhere in space, four Columbia shuttle astronauts played specially designed video games to test their memory and hand-eye coordination. The studies are expected to help NASA run a future space station. And the Hubble Space Telescope spotted what may be the first generation of stars, researchers said.

Rain helped firefighters tame a 7,000-acre, lightning-sparked blaze headed for three explosives plants about 45 miles south of Salt Lake City. It also helped extinguish a 45,000-acre fire threatening eight homes in Lofgreen, Utah. Meanwhile, firefighters have also made progress controlling fires in Arizona, New Mexico, Alaska, Nevada, and California.

Firefighters inspected the Treasury building in Washington after a fire damaged the 150-year-old structure. The cause is under investigation, though officials suspect it was related to restoration work being done.

Unusually warm ocean conditions that could signal a problem with the ecosystem may be causing the death of thousands of seabirds off Oregon's coast. The US Fish and Wildlife Service estimates the death toll could reach 10,000.

The number of graduate and professional students burdened by educational loans is increasing, says a report by the Education Resources Institute Inc. in Boston and the Institute for Higher Education Policy in Washington. A 62 percent increase was found in the number of students borrowing from 1993 to 1995. In 1995, they borrowed $7.7 billion from the Federal Family Education Loan and Federal Direct Student Loan programs - the main sources of student loans.

THE WORLD

President Clinton urged world leaders to "face down the new threats to our freedom," at the Group of Seven industrial nations summit meeting in Lyon. Terrorism is topping the summit's agenda after Tuesday's bombing of a US military complex in Dharan, Saudi Arabia, that killed 19. Clinton said he expects the group to adopt 40 specific recommendations to combat and punish terrorism.

US Defense Secretary William Perry will meet with Saudi officials to discuss improving security for US troops in Saudi Arabia tomorrow. Also, the "Legion of the Martyr Abdullah al-Huzaifi" was responsible for Tuesday's bombing in Dhahran that killed 19 US citizens, an anonymous caller told the Al-Arab newspaper in London. Authorities say they are unable to determine if this group, whose only stated goal is driving US troops out of the country, actually exists. And the remains of the bombing victims were flown home to the US. Clinton will cut his stay in France short to attend services in Florida Sunday.

A UN war crimes tribunal began a week of hearings against Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic in The Hague. Karadzic's lawyer was effectively barred from hearings when the UN tribunal rejected his request to sit in on the court proceedings. Karadzic and Mladic are accused of complicity in virtually all of the atrocities allegedly carried out by Bosnian Serb forces in the conflict. Also, the tribunal charged eight Bosnian Serbs with raping and torturing Muslim women, and charged nine men with war crimes committed during Bosnian Croat attacks on Muslim villages in the Lasva Valley area in 1992 and 1993.

Adoption of a global nuclear test ban by today's deadline is impossible, the head of negotiations said in Geneva. Instead, negotiators will go home with the best possible compromise.

Jewish settlers blocked a Gaza Strip road in Netzarim, defying the Israeli army for the first time since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's election.

Japan lost its campaign to allow small-scale whaling communities to kill 50 of the giant mammals annually. The International Whaling Committee voted 16 to 8 to retain the worldwide ban on commercial whaling.

New Security Council head Alexander Lebed said Russia has crossed the point of no return on its path of reform and must soldier on to justify the sacrifices made. He vowed to ban religious sects and protect Russia from a Western cultural invasion. And the electoral commission dismissed as propaganda Communist Gennady Zyuganov's charge that President Yeltsin's campaign team flouted election law.

South Africa's final election to eradicate apartheid was officially declared free and fair and a triumph of democracy over violence in KwaZulu-Natal Province.

Iceland votes tomorrow to elect a successor to the world's first popularly elected woman president, Vigdis Finnbogadottir. She is stepping down after 16 years as head of the Scandinavian country.

Ugandans voted in parliamentary elections for the first time in 16 years, one month after President Yoweri Museveni won presidential elections by a landslide.

A Brazilian court overturned four of six convictions and slashed the 309-year sentence meted out to a policeman convicted of killing street children in 1993 Candelara massacre. The move dismayed human rights activists. Under Brazilian law, he would have served the maximum 30-years in prison. Now he may be eligible for parole sooner.

The world's three leading tenors, Spain's Jose Carreras, Italy's Placido Domingo, and Luciano Pavarotti kick off a world tour tomorrow with a performance at Japan's National Stadium.

"We are graduating increasing numbers of students and professionals who are mortgaging their futures and destabilizing their careers."

- Ted Freeman, president of the Education Resources Institute, on students needing loans to finance higher education.

ETCETERAS

When the Matthews's house caught fire after being struck by lightning in New Bern, N.C., their dog Roc tried unsuccessfully to wake them by barking. So the intrepid Rottweiler-Chesapeake Bay retriever rang the doorbell and saved their lives. "We didn't know the house was on fire until we answered the door," Linda Matthews said. Roc had rung the bell only once before to get their attention.

A newly discovered method for precisely dating ancient wood from the eastern Mediterranean could rewrite the history of the Greeks, Egyptians, and other civilizations, scientists reported in the journal "Nature." Among other things, the discovery moves back by about a century the start of the Aegean Late Bronze Age.

British and US scientists say they found a way to make a clean fuel from sugar. The process uses enzymes from bacteria that live near hot underwater vents to convert glucose into hydrogen and water. The scientists say it can be used to fuel cars.

Bakers in Frankfurt, Germany, needed a building permit for what they hope will be the world's largest fountain torte. Building materials for the 23-ft. high cake to span the city's "fountain of justice" this weekend: 2,000 eggs, 110 pounds of butter, two crates marzipan. The torte's estimated 5,000 slices will go for $1 a piece.

THE DAY'S LIST

Housing Highs and Lows

Thirteen of the top 25 most affordable housing markets were located in the Midwest, a survey by the National Homebuilders Association of America found. Here are the most- and least-affordable markets by region.

Northeast

Most: Vineland, N.J.

Least: New York City

South

Most: Melbourne, Fla.

Least: Laredo, Texas

Midwest

Most: Racine, Wis.

Least: Ann Arbor, Mich.

West

Most: Modesto, Calif.

Least: San Francisco

- National Association of Homebuilders/AP

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