News In Brief

The US

As a midnight strike deadline approached, American Airlines cancelled most of its international flights. Its pilots union was reportedly seeking 3 percent pay increases on Aug. 31 this year and in 1998 and 1999, plus a 2 percent pay raise in 2000. A key issue was whether union pilots would fly the airline's small regional jets and whether they would accept a lower wage scale for doing so. President Clinton,who has emergency powers to intervene, urged both sides to avert a walkout.

For the second time in two years, the US House rejected a term-limit amendment to the Constitution. The 217-to-211 vote fell 69 short of the necessary two-thirds majority. It was also 10 short of the number of votes that a proposal to limit lawmakers' terms in office received in March 1995.

The space shuttle Discovery and its crew pulled alongside the Hubble Space Telescope and captured the huge, gleaming observatory. Pairs of spacewalking astronauts were scheduled to begin replacing 11 out-of-date telescope components with state-of-the-art parts.

Three former Clinton administration appointees and a fund-raiser refused to cooperate with a House investigation into alleged Democratic fund-raising irregularities. Former associate attorney general Webster Hubbell, Arkansas restaurateur Charles Yah Lin Trie, ex-White House aide Mark Middleton, and former Commerce Department appointee John Huang were cited by the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, which said it would issue formal subpoenas to force release of requested documents.

The Justice Department is reviewing evidence that the Chinese Embassy was used to direct foreign contributions to the Democratic National Committee last year, The Washington Post reported. It said officials familiar with the inquiry claim that some of the evidence was obtained by electronic eavesdropping conducted by US agencies. An embassy spokesman denied the report.

The US has the highest teen pregnancy rate of any industrialized nation, an Alan Guttmacher Institute survey said. Fourteen percent of US girls 15 to19 gave birth in 1996 - double the rate in Britain, which ranked second in the report. Globally, the trend is for far fewer teenagers to become mothers, it said.

Talking on a cellular phone while driving quadruples the risk of an accident, a Canadian study said. Reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, it likened phoning while driving to being close to legally drunk behind the wheel.

A natural-gas pipeline in Washington and Oregon was shut down so crews could check for unstable ground blamed for causing two fiery ruptures last weekend. It was not known how many customers or businesses would be affected. Heavy rains were thought to be a factor.

Mississippi became the 17th state over the past year to outlaw same-sex marriages. In signing the new statute, Gov. Kirk Fordice said it would ensure that homosexual couples do not enjoy the benefits of marriage, such as health insurance.

O.J. Simpson rejected a challenge that would have allowed him to avoid millions in damages by signing a confession. He was responding to an offer made by victim Ronald Goldman's father, who said he would give up all claims to $21 million he won in court against Simpson if the former football star would confess to murdering Goldman's son and Nicole Brown Simpson.

CNN seemed likely to become the first US news outlet to have an office in Cuba in 27 years, after the Clinton administration approved license requests from the network, The Associated Press, and eight other US news groups. CNN was the only one that already had approval from the Cuban government.

Clinton has chosen Little Rock, Ark., as the site of his presidential library, officials said. Others vying for the library were Hope, hi's birthplace; Fayetteville, home of the University of Arkansas, where both Clintons taught law; and Hot Springs, the president's boyhood hometown.

The World

Tensions ran high in Northern Ireland after a British soldier was killed from ambush at a checkpoint. The attack was blamed on an IRA sniper, seeking to provoke retaliation by Protestant loyalists on the eve of a visit by US members of Congress. Political leaders from Britain and the Irish Republic denounced the IRA. Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Fein, the IRA's political ally, said the shooting was "tragic" and called for new peace efforts. But critics said Adams's words were "cynical" and contrasted with "crimes of murder."

Beijing police sealed off the area around South Korea's embassy as North Korean defector Hwang Jang Yop met inside with a senior envoy from Seoul. Hwang, the highest-ranking northerner so far to seek asylum in rival South Korea, said he wanted to help reconcile differences between the two countries. He announced his intention on a visit to the Chinese capital.

China will subject some of its minority Uighur Muslims to "education" sessions, officials said. They said the plan was aimed at teaching "ethnic unity" after a riot in rural Xinjiang Province left at least nine people dead and almost 200 others hurt. It was blamed on Uighur separatists who resent Chinese authority.

The US protested threats by Serbia's Foreign Ministry to refuse entry visas to members of Congress who supported pro-democracy protests against President Slobodan Milosevic. The US statement said such a move would "backfire" against Serbia. Relations between the two countries have deteriorated even though Milosevic reversed his original rejection of opposition election victories. Meanwhile, thousands of demonstrators marched again in Belgrade to protest coverage of their movement by state-run television.

Russia's parliament was scheduled to take up a new proposal today to impeach President Boris Yeltsin on grounds that his health is too poor to allow him to carry out his duties. A similar move failed last month. His defenders called the measure symbolic and without "judicial force." Yeltsin has reported to work only sporadically in recent weeks, and his physicians say he needs more time to recover fully from illness and surgery.

Israeli troops tried to keep angry Palestinians and Jewish settlers apart as they fought over the reopening of an Arab market in Hebron. The shop - in the Jewish sector of the volatile West Bank city - had been closed for three years. It was permitted to resume operations under the peace agreement signed by the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority.

Officials in Thailand said more than 16,000 ethnic Karen refugees have crossed the border from Burma in search of safety. A Karen rebel spokesman confirmed that his troops had burned their own headquarters because attacking Burmese government troops outnumbered them. The Karen National Union has been fighting for autonomy in eastern Burma since 1948.

Only Sweden, Norway, and Finland have national legislatures that are more than one-third female, a survey by the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union showed. In 50 years, it said, the number of countries with elected lawmaking bodies has increased sevenfold, while the number of women lawmakers increased fourfold.

The South Pacific republic of Nauru - the world's smallest - named its fifth president in four months. Australia-educated Kinza Clodumar will be the latest to try to resolve the country's econom-ic woes. Much of Nauru's wealth from exporting phosphate has been lost through bad investment decisions and swindles. A former Paine Webber broker is due to be tried in New York next week for allegedly embezzling $19 million from Nauru investment funds.

Etceteras

I only hope that I could help the two Koreas make peace and reunite . . ."

- Former North Korean government official Hwang Jang Yop, the highest-ranking citizen from his country to seek political asylum in rival South Korea.

Stuck for last-minute ideas on what to buy that special someone for Valentine's Day? How about a one-tenth ownership of a cow? An Internet site in Belgium lists that as one gift idea, along with candy, perfume, and the like. The web address is www.gift.be. But if you go for the cow option, you're on your own when it comes to finding a way to explain it.

The town of Scituate, Mass., wanted its new golf course to be "environmentally sensitive." But that doesn't mean putting up with the damage that noisy, dirty, grass-eating Canada geese inflict. Since shooting or poisoning them would give the appearance of being - well - environmentally insensitive, the town is trying what it hopes will be a better solution: a trained border collie to chase the geese away.

You know the old axiom "You get what you pay for"? It doesn't apply in Putnam County, N.Y. Phone users there are assessed 35 cents a month for 911 emergency service. But since the service still isn't in place after 12 years of trying to implement it, more than a few customers are refusing to fork over the surcharge. By the county's reckoning, the 911 account is $17,000 short.

The Day's List

Key Openings on Clinton Foreign Service Team

The death of Ambassador Pam-ela Harriman last week adds France to the list of vacant US embassy posts in major foreign capitals. Among those needing to be filled, with their former ambassadors (in parentheses):

Russia (Thomas Pickering)

Germany (Charles Redman)

Japan (Walter Mondale)

South Korea (James Laney)

Vietnam (new post; confirmation hearings under way for ex-POW Pete Peterson of Florida)

Britain (William Crowe Jr. is expected to leave London soon)

- Associated Press

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