News In Brief

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THE US

More downpours are forecast for California, which received another dose of rain over the weekend - but without major new flooding. However, several highways were closed by landslides, and flash-flood warnings are in effect for parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

In Tennessee and Alabama, residents cleaned up after a tornado ripped through the states. Thousands were without electricity, more than 200 homes were destroyed or damaged, and one person was killed.

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A guest list released by the Clinton administration shows that President Clinton invited 400 of his party's top financial supporters to the White House 1-1/2 years before his reelection. And a spokesman for the comptroller of the currency said bankers and bank regulators often sat down with political operatives from the Democratic Party. The administration acknowledged the events were arranged by the Democratic Party, but denied anything was wrong with holding the meetings at the White House.

Publix Super Markets agreed to pay $81.5 million to settle a class-action suit brought by 150,000 women who accused the grocery chain of sex discrimination. The suit originally brought by eight women in 1995 said Florida's largest private employ-er passed them over for raises and repeatedly denied them management jobs. The grocer also agreed to allow the EEOC to monitor hiring and promoting for up to seven years. And it reached a preliminary agreement with the EEOC to pay $3.5 million to settle complaints of racial discrimination. The money is pegged for programs to improve race relations.

The Justice Department will no longer defend in court a federal law that allows Medicare and Medicaid payments to Christian Science care-givers, Attorney General Janet Reno told Congress. A federal judge in Minnesota ruled last August that such payments violate the constitutional separation of church and state.

Clinton says he'll recommend that Congress set aside $43 million for new early-warning systems for food contamination. He said the proposal is part of the budget plan he'll send to Congress next month.

A soldier whose allegations about sexual harassment sparked an investigation into a military sex scandal plans to leave the Army today. Jessica Bleckley was granted an honorable discharge for hardship reasons. She went public with allegations that a drill sergeant at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland had harassed her. Since then, four other instructors there have been charged with sexual crimes, including rape.

A West Point cadet accused of raping a female cadet was acquitted by a jury of seven male US Army officers at West Point, N.Y. The woman was the first to bring rape charges against a fellow cadet since women were admitted to the military academy 20 years ago.

Saudi Arabia's ambassador indicated his government won't allow US agents to participate more actively in the probe of a bombing that killed 19 US airmen in Dhahran. In a rare public criticism of the country last week, FBI director Louis Freeh and Attorney General Reno demanded that the kingdom allow greater US involvement.

Three men charged with robbing banks and with bombing a newspaper office and abortion clinic also are being investigated for the July 27 Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta, according to the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash. The newspaper, which is the same one that was bombed, quoted anonymous FBI and Justice Department officials as saying the men are the "strongest leads" in the bombing.

Enough evidence exists to "clearly implicate" Khmer Rouge leaders in crimes against humanity during their 1975-79 rule in Cambodia, the US-funded Cambodian Genocide Program announced. And the genocide toll might be closer to 2 million rather than the previously cited 1 million, new evidence suggests. Researchers at the Yale University program in New Haven, Conn., came to the conclusions after studying meticulous records of the killings kept by the Khmer Rouge.

THE WORLD

Chechen guerrilla leader Aslan Maskhadov predicted victory in today's presidential election and vowed to turn the breakaway region into a sovereign state. He is widely favored to win, although the field also includes 15 other candidates. In Moscow, a Kremlin spokesman said Russia was ready to cut relations with any government that granted diplomatic recognition to Chechnya.

Leftist rebels in Peru released another hostage from the Japanese ambassador's residence they have been occupying since before Christmas. The freed hostage was a police official who needed medical treatment. To ease growing tensions over the standoff, Peru's government pledged to seek "a peaceful solution without bloodshed."

Albanians set fire to the national oil company headquarters and clashed with riot police in another day of protests that were first aimed at pyramid schemes but now are turning against the government. For more than a week, desperate citizens have protested in front of pyramid-scheme companies, demanding the return of their life savings. Some of the schemes have gone bankrupt; others have had their assets frozen by the government. Some government officials are accused of using money from the schemes to finance election campaigns.

The Orthodox patriarch of Serbia said he would lead a procession through Belgrade, a move that analysts warned would increase the risk of a violent confrontation between opposition protesters and police. Patriarch Pavle has led earlier processions that were joined by anti-government demonstrators without incident. But police clubbed at least 20 demonstrators Jan. 24-25, as tensions have grown in almost 10 weeks of protests.

Britain's opposition Labour Party retreated from its vow to vote against spending public tax money for a new royal yacht. Labour, which leads in public-opinion polls as Britain nears a new national election, had said there were more important priorities for the money. But a spokesman later said no such decision had been made yet, and that a new royal yacht "could be an asset for the country." The vessel, projected to cost $100 million, would replace the 44-year-old Britannia.

Delegates from 100 countries open a two-week UN conference on the environment today in Nairobi, Kenya. They are expected to discuss downsizing the agency's environmental programs because of ongoing financial difficulties.

The Taliban religious army boycotted a new attempt at negotiations over the political future of Afghanistan. Taliban officials said the talks - sponsored by Iran - were destined to go nowhere because there was no possibility of a cease-fire. They accused Iran of interference in Afghan affairs. Meanwhile, Taliban forces claimed to have captured a valley linking the capital, Kabul, with opposition-controlled zones to the north.

Protests against China's plan to weaken civil-liberties laws in Hong Kong grew into a march by hundreds of pro-democracy activists. They converged on China's de-facto diplomatic mission in the colony, with their leader saying: "The battle will be lost if we keep silent." China assumes control of the colony on July 1.

A powerful cyclone that tore through the African island nation of Madagascar was blamed for more than 100 deaths, state radio reports said. The 124-m.p.h. winds also destroyed several towns, leaving left thousands of other people homeless or missing.

ETCETERAS

This settlement really goes to breaking the glass ceiling in the promotion of women."

- Frederico Costales of Florida's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, on an agreement by Publix Super Markets to pay $81.5 million to settle a lawsuit by 150,000 women accusing the chain of sex discrimination.

San Diego Zoo officials have made their first stab at matchmaking between two giant pandas on loan from China. In the hope that they'll mate this spring, Bai Yun, a female, was introduced to Shi Shi, a male, last week. He touched her face with one paw, considered a good sign. Fewer than 1,000 giant pandas live in the wild, all of them in China. The only other panda in captivity in the US is a male, at the National Zoo in Washington.

Call it a self-fulfilling pro-phecy. In Albany, Ga., city commissioners voted to pull the plug on television coverage of their meetings because of too much grandstanding in front of the cameras. That's exactly the argument against such coverage that's always used by opponents. But in Albany, it seems, there was another dimension. The meetings had become so rancorous that rival cities were using the videotapes to show new businesses why they shouldn't locate in Albany.

THE DAY'S LIST

Who's Paid the Most at National Public Radio?

In the fiscal year spanning Oct. 1, 1994 - Sept. 31, 1995, records show that NPR paid more than $25 million in base salaries to its executives and staff. The network's best-paid people:

EXECUTIVES

Delano Lewis, president $170,660

Barbara Hall, vice president $112,455

Bill Buzenberg, vice president $112,355

ON-AIR STAFF

Bob Edwards, senior program host $148,506

Linda Wertheimer, senior host $101,723

Robert Siegal, senior host $101,460

Scott Simon, senior host $101,128

CONTRACTORS

Daniel Schorr, senior news analyst $105,581

Mary Kay Magistad, correspondent $81,388

Ray Dilley, projects director $75,240

- Public Broadcasting Report

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