News In Brief

THE US

Thirteen members of the "Viper Militia" paramilitary group accused of plotting to blow up government buildings were arrested in Phoenix, Ariz. An undercover federal agent became a member of the group after a hunter told police that camouflaged members confronted him in a national forest last November and ordered him to stay off a service road. Attorney General Janet Reno said the group planned to destroy buildings housing the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, IRS, INS, Secret Service, Arizona National Guard, Phoenix Police Department, and a local TV station. The agent found training videos showing government buildings, their security features, and the best places to put explosives to bring the buildings down.

New home sales hit their highest level in 10 years. Sales surged 7.5 percent in May, despite the highest mortgage rates in a year. The activity was concentrated in the Midwest and South. Also, the Index of Leading Economic Indicators rose 0.3 percent in May to its highest level in more than a year. The news came as the Federal Reserve began a meeting to consider raising interest rates.

President Clinton still leads presidential hopeful Bob Dole in the polls 54 percent to 40 percent. But his lead has slipped since late May, when he had a 57-to-35 percent advantage, according to an ABC News-Washington Post poll. The erosion was worse - down to a 10-point margin from 23 points - among those deemed most likely to vote, the pollsters said. A CNN-USA Today poll found Clinton's approval rating dropping to 52 percent from 58 percent in mid-June.

Clinton planned to meet with officials of a state attorney general's group hosting a Washington summit on the recent church fires. Also, police suspect juvenile vandalism for a small fire set at a black church under construction in Greenville, Miss. And two cousins were arrested in the May 4 burnings of two white churches in central Missouri.

Digital Equipment Corp. announced a plan to cut 7,000 of its 60,900 jobs in a $475 million restructuring project. Greater efficiency and lower cost structure from the restructuring will allow Digital to attain competitive financial performance, chairman Robert Palmer said. The company said fiscal fourth-quarter earnings would be well below expectations due to poor performance in personal computers and slow sales in Europe.

US Customs installed nuclear detection devices at various points of entry to test its ability to stop nuclear smuggling, The Wall Street Journal said. The project began in January after concerns that nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union may not be well-guarded.

Dole appeased moderates in the GOP by announcing he could accept a running mate who supports abortion rights. That opens up the field to New Jersey Gov. Christie Todd Whitman, who supported Clinton's ban on a type of late-term abortion. Dole was starting a book-promotion tour when he made the statement.

The owner of the Chicago Tribune newspaper, Tribune Company, announced a $1.13 billion plan to purchase Renaissance Communications Corp.'s six TV stations, giving it access to a third of all US households. The purchase would give the company stations in eight of the top 11 US markets, providing it with greater clout to buy syndicated programming and sell its own programs to the major networks.

A federal judge upheld the central aspect of so-called Megan's Law, ruling that state authorities can alert neighborhoods where released sex offenders live. Beginning next week the decision will lift a temporary ban on community notification.

Food containing olestra should be banned, Washington's Center for Science in the Public Interest said. It asked the Food and Drug Administration to reverse approval of the fat replacer citing hundreds of cases where people eating products containing it became ill.

THE WORLD

Russians choose today between President Yeltsin and Communist candidate Gennady Zyuganov in runoff elections. Notoriously unreliable polls gave Yeltsin a slim three-point lead over Zyuganov. Yeltsin, who has not been seen in public since last week, was working on documents in his dacha, aides said. Concern about his health dominated the final week of campaigning. New security chief Alexander Lebed apologized for calling Mormons and other non-Russian religions "filth and scum," but says he still intends to ban them. Lebed said the American experience of freedom of religion does not apply to Russia.

Bosnian Serb vice president Biljana Plavsic said she would not turn over Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic to the UN war crimes tribunal. Also, a day after he announced he had turned over all power to Plavsic, Karadzic vowed to push on with his mission to divide Bosnia in a speech to his Serbian Democratic Party. Earlier, the US State Department said it didn't believe Karadzic had really stepped down, raising the possibility of renewed sanctions against the Bosnian Serbs.

Israeli warplanes rocketed a base in eastern Lebanon that belongs to the Palestinian National Liberation Organization, security sources said. The attack was in retaliation for an ambush in the West Bank last week that killed three soldiers. Also, Army officials are recommending Israel significantly ease a four-month closure that has kept tens of thousands of Palestinians from their jobs. Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai is expected to make a decision this week, the Haaretz newspaper reported. The restrictions encourage extremism and could lead to more violence, the officials said. Israel imposed the curbs after a series of suicide bombings.

Tamil Tiger rebels called for a truce and renewed peace talks with Sri Lanka's government to end the 13-year-old war. The rebels have suffered a number of defeats in recent months, including the loss of their de facto capital in the northern Jaffna Peninsula. Sri Lanka's government had said previously that the rebels must turn over their weapons before talks can begin.

Saudi King Fahd condemned last week's bombing of a US housing complex in Dhahran that killed 19 US citizens and injured more than 300 people. Fahd promised that existing policies will remain unchanged despite the bombing, and asked Saudis to help hunt for the criminals. Also, top Saudi officials received letters threatening violence against unspecified civilian targets unless jailed religious leaders and citizens arrested in a 1994 protest were released, ABC "World News Tonight" reported. It was not clear if the threats were linked to the bombing.

Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus submitted his government's resignation, and President Havel asked him to form a new coalition government. The move is in accord with an agreement by Klaus's three-party coalition to create a new Cabinet after parliamentary elections stripped the coalition of its majority a month ago.

Ministers from five African states met in Arusha, Tanzania, to draw up plans for a multinational force to stop the ethnic violence in Burundi that has killed more than 150,000 people since 1993.

Guatemala may take diplomatic action after studying a US panel review of CIA actions in the country, Foreign Minister Eduardo Stein said.The report concluded that Guatemalan military officers suspected of human rights abuses were paid informers of the CIA.

ETCETERAS

"I am convinced that when people are employed and full of hope, they don't burn churches and they don't burn crosses."

-- The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who blamed white poverty for a fire at the Inner City Church he visited in Knoxville, Tenn.

Janet Estey's, of Aspen, Colo., wretched writing won her the grand prize in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction contest, which honors putrid prose. San Jose State University sponsors the annual competition, named after Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, whose novel "Paul Clifford" begins, "It was a dark and stormy night...." The contest also awards prizes in categories such as puns, romance, and historical fiction. "I've heard about the contest for years, and I've written badly for years, so I figured it was just destiny," Estey said.

THE DAY'S LIST

Top 10 Movies in US and Canada, By Per-location Revenue, June 28-30

Per location revenue gauges movie popularity by community response to a film. Movie titles are followed by per-location revenue, the number of weeks in release, total revenue, and the number of locations.

1. "The Nutty Professor," $12,015; one week; 2,115 locations; $25.4 million.

2. "Lone Star," $10,241; two weeks; 40 locations; $779,000.

3. "Eraser," $6,716; two weeks; 2,556 locations; $53.6 million.

4. "Striptease," $6,255; one week; 1,970 locations; $12.3 million.

5. "Stealing Beauty," $5,197; three weeks; 134 locations; $1.3 million.

6. "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," $5,151; two weeks; 2,778 locations; $47.1 million.

7. "The Rock," $4,559; four weeks; 2,532 locations; $98.3 million.

8. "Welcome to the Dollhouse," $3,288; six weeks; 107 locations; $2.7 million.

9. "Mission: Impossible," $2,185; six weeks; 2,212 locations; $164.3 million.

10. "Twister," $2,065; eight weeks; 2,318 locations; $219.6 million.

-- Exhibitor Relations/AP

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