News In Brief
An outside counsel plans to submit a report today on ethics violations by House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Meanwhile, Rep. Jim McDermott (D) of Florida announced he will recuse himself from the House ethics panel after Republicans accused him of leaking a tape-recorded cellular phone conversation involving Gingrich. McDermott made the recusal contingent upon the GOP removing a member from the same committee to maintain balance. A Republican leader said the GOP isn't interested in a partisan advantage. Rep. Lamar Smith (R) of Texas will likely recuse himself, leaving the committee with four Republicans and four Democrats, reports said.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service plans to allocate $400 million from a record $3.1 billion budget to deter illegal crossings along the border with Mexico and to remove undocumented aliens from the US, commissioner Doris Meissner announced. Part of the money will be used to hire 2,000 new personnel, including 1,000 new Border Patrol agents and 350 inspectors at crossings and airports, she said.
Mitsubishi Motor agreed to spend about $200 million over the next five years on minority initiatives, including the financing of new dealerships. The agreement with the Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow PUSH Coalition ends a consumer boycott brought by the organization after the EEOC sued the company for discriminatory employment practices. The EEOC suit and private litigation against Mitsubishi have yet to be settled. Meanwhile, Jackson announced PUSH will open a Wall Street office to monitor how corporations treat minorities.
The Democrats are planning to propose modest capital-gains tax reductions later this month aimed at small-business development. The proposal is likely to include breaks for investors in small companies and for family farmers approaching retirement who want to sell their property. Also likely to be proposed: making tax-deductible Individual Retirement Accounts available to more taxpayers.
The Big Three automakers objected to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposal to allow vehicle owners to disconnect their air bags. The automakers said the policy would be difficult to implement properly and would send a mixed message about air bags. Dealers and mechanics are also concerned the policy would expose them to lawsuits. GM recommended installing a retrofitted cutoff switch instead.
Fewer guns, more butter: President Clinton's budget proposal calls for a $5 billion cut in defense outlays and $16 billion for federal welfare spending, sources say. Most of the $16 billion would be pegged for food stamps for legal immigrants who became disabled after entering the US. Clinton plans to present the budget to Congress Feb. 6.
Astronauts cheered and tore open packets of bread and salt - the traditional Russian welcome - after the space shuttle Atlantis successfully docked with the Russian space station Mir. Retired Air Force colonel John Blaha now will head home and be replaced by Dr. Jerry Linenger, who kicked off a 4-1/2-month stay.
The replacement of a commuter plane's right engine didn't cause a Comair twin-engine turboprop to crash five days later, the airline said. The plane crashed in Raisinville Township, Mich., killing all 29 people on board. The pilot apparently shut down the right engine during the flight, and flight recorder and cockpit voice recorder information indicated an apparent stall warning just before the crash.
Residents of North Dakota, Minnesota, and Nebraska braced for high winds and yet another blizzard. The snowstorm will be the fourth in the last month for North Dakota, where 20-foot snowdrifts have kept some residents isolated for a week.
The deal on redeployment of troops from the West Bank city of Hebron appeared likely to win narrow passage in Israel's Cabinet, despite opposition by almost half of its members. Jewish settlers in Hebron also rejected the agreement, reached by Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Arafat. Israeli sources said troops could pull back from Hebron as early as tomorrow to limit the ability of militants to cause trouble.
Leftist guerrillas holding 74 hostages in Peru accepted a government proposal for mediating the month-long standoff. But Tpac Amaru leaders said discussions must include the release of hundreds of their followers from jail. As the announcement was made in Lima, Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori toured historic ruins with his visiting Ecuadoran counterpart, Abdala Bucaram.
A radio station in Burundi broadcast the contents of a letter accusing the country's Tutsi-led Army of killing more than 3,200 civilians. The letter, written to a Roman Catholic bishop by parishioners, said the deaths came as soldiers attempted to root out Hutu rebels. There was no independent confirmation of the report, but one commander acknowledged that "some mistakes" might have been made because of his troops' inability to distinguish between rebels and the civilian population.
Prosecutors in South Korea warned union leaders to call off a violent general strike or face a police crackdown. The strike, billed as the largest in the country's history, entered its second day with less than expected support by workers. Government officials suggested that the violence was incited by rival North Korea.
China dismissed the concerns of visiting US congressmen and urged the Clinton administration to grant permanent Most-Favored-Nation trade status. The preferred trade position is due for renewal in June, just before China assumes control of Hong Kong. China has pledged not to interfere with Hong Kong's free-market economy, but some US lawmakers want to monitor Beijing's handling of the British colony for a year before they will support permanent MFN status.
Rival factions in Afghanistan failed to agree on cease-fire terms, but did agree that the need for a truce is urgent. Three days of UN-sponsored negotiations in neighboring Pakistan broke off, but are scheduled to resume next month. They were the first face-to-face meetings between the fundamentalist Taliban religious army, which controls two-thirds of Afghanistan, and each of its more moderate opponents.
Police in Belfast, Northern Ireland, searched for the origins of a firebomb that destroyed a center-city clothing store. No one claimed responsibility for the attack. Investigators were attempting to establish whether it might have been thrown by Irish Republican Army guerrillas.
Bulgaria's ruling Socialist Party offered new national elections by the end of the year. The move was seen as an effort to head off mounting protests by anti-government opponents, who are demanding a vote by May. The country's worsening economy and 300-percent inflation rate have triggered nine consecutive days of strikes and street demonstrations. Hundreds of protesters were hurt in one confrontation with police last week.
Hundreds of angry Albanians clashed with riot police and brought traffic to a standstill in the capital, Tirana. The protesters called for an end to "dictatorship" by Democratic Party President Sali Berisha. They broke away from an even larger group that was demanding repayment of money invested in one of the country's popular pyramid schemes. The get-rich-quick schemes sprung up in impoverished Albania following the fall of communism in 1991.
At last, 80 percent of the city will be liberated in the coming days. The people have been waiting such a long time, and now the time has come."
- Mayor Mustafa Natsche, reacting to the much-anticipated agreement on redeploying Israeli troops based in Hebron.
It's traditional at mega-sports events for the governors of the states supplying the competing teams to wager on the outcome with some locally famous product. Super Bowl XXXI will be no exception. Gov. William Weld of Massachusetts (home of the New England Patriots) is betting 31 Boston cream pies and 31 roast turkeys that the Pats will beat the Green Bay Packers. Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson's bet: 31 wheels of cheese and 31 pounds of bratwurst.
Just in time for Valentine's Day - a move calculated to warm hearts in the chilly Netherlands. The Dutch post office is issuing scratch 'n sniff stamps. Each stamp releases a rosy scent. A strip of 10 stamps also allows the really romantic postal customer to choose a slogan for his or her stamps declaring love, or at least longing.
Queen Elizabeth II has had rather more success at marriage than any of her children (three of whom have divorced in the 1990s). So, for her golden wedding anniversary the focus will be on other British couples who also were married in 1947. Buckingham Palace says she will entertain 4,000 of them at a garden party July 15.
Celebrities Celebrating Monday's Inauguration
Events leading up to President Clinton's Jan. 20 inauguration are scheduled for the Smithsonian Institution auditorium in Washington and in heated tents on the Mall. Some of the entertainers, essayists, advocates, and researchers invited to participate:
Actress Whoopi Goldberg
Filmmaker Kenneth Burns
Nobel Peace Prize-winner Elie Weisel
Harvard Prof. Cornell West
Woman's rights advocate Betty Friedan
Rock and Roll group Better than Ezra
Singer Chaka Khan
Former Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir
"Sesame Street" character Elmo
"Science Guy" host Bill Nye
- Associated Press