News In Brief

The US

A Clinton-Yeltsin summit in Helsinki was set for March 20-21. Meeting plans were finalized during two days of talks in Washington between Vice President Al Gore and Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. The venue was shifted from the US to Finland to accommodate Yeltsin, who is recovering from illness.

The March summit could produce guidelines for a new START III treaty on nuclear weapons reductions, Gore said. The Russian parliament has refused to ratify a four-year-old START II treaty that would cut nuclear arsenals in half by 2003. The goal of discussing yet another round of arms cuts is reportedly to persuade parliament that Russia can be secure and save money by getting rid of nuclear weapons at a quicker pace. The US and its allies also are working out details of a new conventional arms-reduction proposal to reassure Russia about the nonthreatening nature of NATO expansion, officials in Washington said.

Former President George Bush urged a reluctant Senate to ratify the chemical-weapons treaty he helped to nurture in the closing years of the cold war. He spoke to reporters from his home in Houston in a joint appearance with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Sen. Jesse Helms (R) of North Carolina has held up the treaty in his Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

An oxygen leak threatened a planned launch tomorrow of the shuttle Discovery on a mission to upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope, officials said. Concentrations of the gas were detected after the shuttle was loaded with supercold liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen for its electricity-generating fuel cells.

CIA director-designate Anthony Lake agreed to a $5,000 settlement, closing the civil probe of his stock dealings. It stipulates that there was no intention on his part to conceal his holdings, nor any official action taken by him to increase the value of the stocks. But it indicates Lake had ample opportunity to become aware that his broker had failed to sell shares in four energy companies after law-yers advised him to do so in 1993 and that Lake took part in actions that could have benefited one of the companies. Meanwhile, the Justice Department notified a House subcommittee that it had found no evidence of wrongdoing stemming from Lake's statements to lawmakers concerniong tacit U.S. approval for Iranian arms shipments to Bosnia in 1994.

Five million immigrants are living illegally in the US, the Immigration and Naturalization Service said. The agency revised upward its 1992 estimate by half a million - to 3.9 million. Estimates cover illegal immigrants who stay in the US at least a year, not those who slip in for a few days or months and return home. Officials said their calculations may be off by as many as 400,000 and probably err on the high side.

The nation's unemployment rate inched up to 5.4 percent in January and wage gains slowed down, the Labor Department reported. The rate of unemployment was up from 5.3 percent in December. Average hourly pay for nonsupervisory workers rose just 1 cent to $12.06, compared with a 15-cent gain over the previous two months.

Senate majority leader Trent Lott called for a possible federal takeover of the troubled District of Columbia police department. He raised the issue two days after a decorated policeman was shot to death in his patrol car at a traffic light outside a Washington nightclub. The city's police chief said he needs another 200 officers on the streets. President Clinton last month proposed a federal takeover of the district's courts and prisons to help the city out of its financial crisis.

An indefinite halt to East Coast operations by regular Air Force, Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard units was ordered after two near-collisions last week between military and civilian aircraft along the Eastern seaboard. Gen. Ronald Fogleman, Air Force chief of staff, called the order "a precaution to ensure that all procedures are sound."

The World

Serbia's parliament is due to consider new legislation tomorrow that would certify opposition victories in local elections across the nation. Opposition leaders said they were prepared for President Milosevic to attempt last-minute tactics that would circumvent the measure. The opponents won 14 city council contests - among them the capital, Belgrade. But although Milosevic conceded defeat in those races last week, two Belgrade districts are not included in the bill.

A predawn swearing-in ceremony made Vice President Rosalia Arteaga Ecuador's first female chief executive. She suc- ceeds Abdala Bucaram, who was impeached by Congress last week. Bucaram (above) conceded defeat in his attempt to remain in power. Congressional sources said Arteaga would serve only for a few days, then resign and turn the office over to Spea-ker Fabian Alarcon, who would call a new national election.

Protestants chanting anti-Catholic slogans converged on a parish church in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, effectively kicking off the annual "marching season." The marches celebrate centuries-old Protestant victories over Catholics in sectarian fighting. The estimated 1,000 demonstrators were the latest to try to force Catholics in a neighboring town to stop opposing a march by the Protestant Orange Order. Last year's marching season caused the worst civil unrest in Northern Ireland in decades.

Mexican government documents concede that the country has a major corruption problem with its law-enforcement agencies, The Washington Post reported. Citing documents filed in US district court in San Diego, the Post said a Mexican cartel pays off hundreds of police officials in exchange for help in moving drugs overland and into the US. President Clinton is due to certify whether Mexico has been doing enough to combat drug trafficking.

Israeli jets and artillery hit suspected guerrilla targets in south Lebanon in retaliation for a raid that wounded seven soldiers. The action came hours aft-er a bipartisan group of politicians and former generals decided to submit recommendations to Prime Minister Netanyahu on withdrawing from Israel's security zone in Lebanon. Meanwhile, Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Arafat were due to discuss alleged violations of the peace accord between the two sides.

An Iraqi opposition group named six senior military officers it said had been executed after an attempted coup against President Saddam Hussein. The six belonged to Saddam's special protection units or to the elite Republican Guard. The Syria-based Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq said the executions had been carried out earlier this month. The claim could not be confirmed.

Moscow's popular mayor broke ranks with Russian President Yeltsin and advocated independence for Chechnya. Yuri Luzhkov told the Interfax news agency that Chechnya should be permitted to secede, but with "borders to keep armed gangs from terrorizing" Russia. Many Russians view Chechens as profiteers, thieves, and drug dealers. Yeltsin has vowed that Chechnya will not be permitted to secede.

Do not attempt to shift Turkey away from its longstanding secular orientation, the country's powerful military warned Islamic government leaders. An Ankara newspaper quoted Chief of Staff Ismail Hakki Karadayi as saying the armed forces would "take on any duty" aimed at protecting the secular republic. The ruling Islamic Welfare Party has angered secularists with plans to institute strict Muslim policies and rules.

Etceteras

It is vitally important that the United States be out front - not to be dragged, kicking and screaming" - into accepting a chemical-weapons ban now before the Senate.

- Former President George Bush, on Senate refusal to ratify the treaty he signed in 1993.

Some Girl Scouts sell their cookies to anyone who has the cash. Not Megan Brooks. The Georgia youngster is choosy about who may buy from her. She hung around Augusta State University the day President Clinton was to deliver a speech. He listened to her sales pitch and said he'd think about it. Afterward, he borrowed money from an aide and left with a box of Samoas. She also sold a box of Thin Mints to Gov. Zell Miller.

If Brigantine, N.J., residents aren't careful, it soon will cost a bundle to do a load of wash - $1,000, to be exact (plus water and detergent). It seems too many folks were hanging laundry in the front yard. That was deemed unsightly, so the town council voted to make it illegal and impose fines. Brigantine has no laundry police to go around writing up violators, but complaints will be investigated. Backyard clotheslines remain OK.

The Day's List

How US Ranks in Aiding Less-Fortunate Nations

As a percent of gross national product, the US gave less foreign aid in 1995 (the latest year for which statistics are available) than any other nation on the Economic Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development:

1. Denmark 0.96

2. Norway 0.87

3. Netherlands 0.81

4. Sweden 0.77

5. France 0.55

6. Canada 0.38

6. Belgium 0.38

8. Luxembourg 0.36

8. Australia 0.36

10. Switzerland 0.34

11. Austria 0.33

12. Finland 0.32

13. Germany 0.31

14. Ireland 0.29

15. United Kingdom 0.28

15. Japan 0.28

17. Portugal 0.27

18. Spain 0.24

19. New Zealand 0.23

20. Italy 0.15

21. US 0.10

- Associated Press and OECD

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