News In Brief

THE US

The Senate planned to vote today on a minimum wage increase. President Clinton has threatened to veto the bill if conservative Republicans attach a controversial amendment to exempt small businesses. Also, the House plans to take up two spending bills - one would pay for congressional activities, and the other covers the departments of Labor and Health and Human Services. Clinton and the GOP also are headed for showdowns over 13 appropriations bills, including funds for foreign aid, national service, and family planning support.

Clinton planned to announce a new federal program that aims to track down those selling guns to young people. Police chiefs and prosecutors will pass along information on guns confiscated from juveniles to federal officials, who will then trace the guns to their original seller. A pilot version in Boston has been so successful, no juveniles have been killed by guns there this year, The New York Times said.

Visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with Clinton at the White House today and address Congress tomorrow. He also plans to visit New York to meet with potential investors in Israeli industry. Earlier, Clinton met with Polish President Alexsander Kwasniewski to discuss Poland's entry into NATO.

California's Senate approved a $62.8 billion fiscal spending plan, ending a budget impasse. The budget, approved for July 1, includes $771 million for class-size reductions, a 5 percent business tax cut, and a $150 million plan to provide financial aid to boost local law enforcement.

The Clinton administration shelved plans to restrict health maintenance organizations from rewarding doctors for limiting care to Medicare and Medicaid patients, The New York Times reported. The rules were created to ensure that the poor and elderly weren't denied necessary care. But the HMOs have argued the rules would force them to rewrite contracts with tens of thousands of doctors, the report said.

A fan blade may be responsible for the engine explosion on a Delta Airlines MD-99 jet during takeoff from Pensacola, Fla., the engine's manufacturer, Pratt & Whitney said. A member of the National Transportation Safety Board said it's the first time the agency has seen such a failure. Two people were killed in the accident, and five were injured.

Arson was determined the cause of a fire at a small black church in Graham, Wash. But investigators said there was no immediate evidence of a racial motive. It was one of at least three church fires in the Pacific Northwest in the past several weeks.

Firefighters wrestled with a series of lightning-sparked blazes that have charred 40,000 acres in west-central Utah. One blaze temporarily closed a stretch of a main highway during the holiday weekend, stalling travelers for hours.

The Army and Marine Corps rejected four recruits after a school principal notified them the former students wore swastikas and Ku Klux Klan slogans during graduation ceremonies. The military has come under scrutiny for racism after three white soldiers from Fort Bragg allegedly gunned down a young black couple last December. It was discovered two of the soldiers were skinheads.

MTV announced the creation of a cable channel that will offer music videos to a slightly older audience. Aimed at a target audience of age 23 rather than 21, the more music-oriented channel M2 is scheduled to debut Aug. 1, on MTV's 15th anniversary.

Hurricane Bertha, with winds topping 85 m.p.h., hit the Virgin Islands. Although classified as a minimal hurricane, it was expected to hit hundreds of homes and public housing that have not been repaired since the last hurricane season. It's also expected to pass near Puerto Rico.

THE WORLD

War crimes prosecutors urged a UN tribunal in The Hague to issue arrest warrents for Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic. Also, foreign Islamic militants remain in Bosnia in defiance of the Dayton accord, The Washington Post reported. The militants are employing forced marriages, kidnappings, and the occupation of homes to remain in Bosnia. On June 26, the White House said the militants had left either Bosnia or the army. But Bosnian officials believe several hundred are still in the country. And CIA Director John Deutch slipped unannounced into Sarajevo on a visit indicating Washington fears they are a threat to US forces, diplomats said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed hard-liner Ariel Sharon Minister of National Infrastructure, fending off a political crisis before heading for the US. Foreign Minister David Levy announced last week he would resign if Sharon wasn't included in the new government. Netanyahu is to meet with President Clinton today for the first time since Netanyahu's election. He will tell Clinton he plans to meet with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, Israeli news reports said. He is also expected to propose easing the four-month closure of the West Bank and Gaza.

A Cuban hijacked a plane in Santiago at gunpoint and forced it to land at the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, US officials said. The hijacker, whose name wasn't available, requested asylum in the US. He is in the custody of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Members of Northern Ireland's Protestant Orange Order pelted police with stones, bottles, and gasoline bombs in the second day of a standoff. Police fired plastic bullets at demonstrators who tried to cut through barriers and when someone threw a firebomb at a police car. The pro-British group wants to march through the mostly Catholic town of Portadown, and leaders vowed to stand their ground. Orangemen march each July and August to commemorate Protestant King William of Orange's victories over deposed Catholic King James II. Orangemen faced off against police lines on Dumcree Road.

Populist Abdala Bucaram was elected president of Ecuador in runoff elections. Bucaram received 54 percent of the vote to Christian Democrat Jaime Nebot's 45 percent. Bucaram will have to govern with a small minority in Congress. His Roldosista Party captured only 19 of 82 seats in May elections.

Turkish Prime Minister's Necmettin Erbakan's Islamist government won a vote of confidence. This clears the way for the first religion-based government in Turkey's 73-year secular history.

Latvia's Guntis Ulmanis pledged to serve the Baltic country and its people for three more years as he was inaugurated for a second term as president. Parliament reelected Ulmanis June 18; Latvia does not directly elect its president.

Kashmiri rebels kidnapped 19 journalists and threatened to kill four today if their editors didn't met with the rebels. The guerrillas are fighting for a separate state in India's Jammu and Kashmir Province. The kidnapping coincided with India's decision to hold state assembly elections in the province this fall.

African leaders at the Organization of African Unity summit in Yaounde, Cameroon, will decide whether Liberian faction leaders should face a UN war crimes tribunal. UN sanctions against Libya is also a planned topic at the three-day meeting.

A major Burundian Army assault is imminent to crush Hutu rebels near a factory where the rebels killed 83 civilians, mostly Tutsis, the defense minister said.

ETCETERAS

"Karadzic's and Mladic's perfidious ... deeds will long be remembered. What should not be remembered is the world had the ability to bring these two ... to justice and did nothing."

-- Prosecutor Mark Harmon, asking a UN War Crimes Tribunal to issue arrest warrants for the Bosnian Serb leaders.

A Finnish couple sped through a 258-yard obstacle course with hurdles and a water obstacle to win Helsinki's first title in the international wife-carrying contest. The husband and 97-pound wife's time: One minute, six seconds. Four couples were disqualified when they switched roles, and wives hoisted hubbies.

Norma Lyon, Iowa's Butter Lady, is recreating the work of native artist Grant Wood. "American Gothic" - the painting of a stern-looking farmer standing next to a stoic woman - will be sculpted in butter for the state's 150th birthday.

It's the aliens versus dinosaurs: The movie "Independence Day" was poised to smash the "Jurassic Park" 1993 nine-day record of being the fastest film to reach $100 million. The movie, in which alien invaders blow up the White House along with most of humanity, was expected to pass the $100 million mark in just six days.

A British yachtsman in his 70s believed lost at sea returned home after surviving for weeks on rice and rainwater. Les Powles set out to circumnavigate the globe for the third time on his 34-foot yacht Solitaire. It was knocked down repeatedly in high seas, which broke the radio and affected his food supply. "To see him back when you thought he had disappeared ... is extremely moving," a friend said.

THE DAY'S LIST

Avoiding Soggy Sleeping Bags and Moldy Meals

A staffer concocted this top-10 wish list after enduring a soggy week of the great outdoors in the Berkshires of Massachusetts.

1. Bug repellent

2. Leak-proof tent

3. Waterproof ground cover

4. Ponchos

5. All-weather matches

6. Warm jackets

7. Stay-dry sleeping bags

8. Wind-proof lantern

9. Four-wheel drive vehicle with mud tires

10. Reservations at nearby Holiday Inn

-- A Monitor staffer

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