News In Brief

The US

The Democratic National Committee expects to refund more campaign donations that may be illegal or improper, sour-ces said. They said the action would be taken after an internal audit of donors. The Washington Post reported that one $15,000 contribution came from a Macao developer who holds an advisory position in China's communist government. Meanwhile, President Clinton attended a Washington dinner that raised $500,000 for the DNC.

Clinton OK'd a senior aide's proposal to use overnight stays and "coffees " in the White Hou-se as fund-raising tools two years before they became an issue, administration officials said. A memo detailing the plan was turned over to congressional investigators by Clinton's former deputy chief of staff Harold Ickes.

The president was scheduled to announce a $16-billion strategy to combat illegal drug use. A $175-million chunk of the money was earmarked for a national awareness campaign through the media, the White House said. Meanwhile, the Department of Education said its studies showed awareness programs targeting fifth-graders had only minor impact on later drug use. It said more money was needed for the effort, but with tighter controls on how it was spent.

A new claim of responsibility for last week's explosion that injured five people in an Atlanta nightclub was received by news outlets in the city. A group calling itself the "Army of God" said it had targeted the nightclub favored by homosexuals, as well as a clinic where abortions are performed. The clinic was bombed Jan. 16. Earlier, a voice-mail message from the "Sons of the Confederate Klan" claimed credit for the nightclub bombing.

Metal detectors and an airport-type baggage scanner were installed in New York's Empire State Building as its observation deck reopened after a weekend shooting that left two people dead and six others wounded. Police said there was no evidence that the gunman, a Palestinian who took his own life, was linked to any terrorist group.

Law-enforcement officials located a rental truck in Atlanta that was suspected of carrying bomb-making materials similar to those used to blow up the federal building in Oklahoma City. The truck was the object of a nationwide search after witnesses in Texas reported seeing dies-el fuel and fertilizer being loaded into it. A terrorist threat advisory was canceled when the contents - and the renters' intentions - were determined to be harmless.

Pharmaceutical giant Smith-Kline Beecham agreed to pay $325 million to settle a civil suit. The suit alleged the company made illegal kickbacks to doctors and billed the government for millions of laboratory tests that were not medically necessary. The settlement will be divided by the government and four whistle-blowers who sued the company for fraud. SmithKline still could face criminal charges in the case.

The re-release of "Return of the Jedi" will be delayed until March 14 because of the strong box-office showing of "The Empire Strikes Back," 20th Century Fox said. "Jedi" is the final film in the "Star Wars" trilogy. "Empire" earned a record $22 million in its first weekend at theaters across the US. Prior to that, "Star Wars" itself was the top-grossing film for three weeks.

Heavyweight boxing champion Riddick Bowe did not leave the US Marines voluntarily, a spokes-man for the corps told The Washington Post. He said Bowe - who returned from boot camp at Parris Island, S.C., last week - was dismissed for "refusing to train." Bowe said he had quit because he missed his family. He surpri-sed the sports world earlier by announcing he would fulfill a long-held ambition to become a marine.

The Illinois River was expected to crest eight feet above flood stage at Peoria, the National Weather Service said. Workers hurried to fill sandbags in preparation for the anticipated flooding. In northwestern Illinois, meteorologists predicted water levels in the swollen Rock River would fall to-day. The high waters caused the evacuation of most of the town of Hillsdale.

The World

Israeli gunmen shot three Palestinians in the West Bank village of Hizme, according to reports from the scene. One of the Palestinians was said to be seriously wounded. The gunmen escaped. Also, Palestinians march-ed in protest against Israel's de- cision to build a new Jewish neighborhood in disputed east Jerusalem. Earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu pleaded with opponents of the plan not to react violently to the decision.

Zairean rebel leader Laurent Kabila arrived for "secret meetings" in South Africa, giving hope to peace talks stalled since last week. South African and US officials have been trying open negotiations to end the five-month-old rebellion. Meanwhile, residents of Kindu, Zaire, began to flee as underpaid soldiers looted stores. The key town appeared to be next on the rebels' attack list. Also, nine senior Army officers deserted to join the rebels, who are trying to oust President Mobutu Sese Seko.

Mexico fired at least 36 antinarcotics agents and warned that more dismissals would follow as the country's latest drug scandal widened. The move followed the arrest last week of the country's drug czar on charges that he had links to Mexico's largest trafficker. Tomorrow, the US is due to issue its annual report card on countries' antidrug efforts. For the first time, Mexico is in danger of losing its certification as a partner in the war on drugs, The New York Times reported.

Opponents of France's proposed immigration law called a new protest, as lawmakers finalized the bill to tighten rules for foreigners. Public opinion polls indicate about 70 percent support for the measure, now that a clause that would force hosts to report their foreign guests has been dropped.

Ten thousand of China's elite packed the Great Hall of the People to say goodbye to leader Deng Xiaoping. Chinese President Jiang Zemin delivered the eulogy, and millions of people tuned in to the memorial service, which was broadcast nationwide.

South Korea's outlawed Korean Confederation of Trade Unions said it would launch an all-out strike Friday to protest a new labor law, which is to take effect March 1. It would make it easier for employers to lay off workers and replace strikers.

Prominent North Korean defector Li Han-young died 10 days after being shot by an unidentified assailant. Li, the nephew of the North Korean leader's ex-wife, defected in 1982, but it was kept a secret until last year.

The United States warned the 40,000 Americans living in Saudi Arabia to be on guard against new terrorist attacks. The advisory pointed to a recent threat by anti-Western millionaire Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden threatened the US military and called for the expulsion of all Americans in a British broadcast last week, the advisory said.

South Korean President Kim Young Sam apologized on national TV for the Hanbo steel scandal. He also banished one of his own sons, believed to be involved in the scandal, from public life. Three of Kim's aides have been arrested in connection with dubious loans made to the company, which racked up $5.8 billion in debt before going under Jan. 23. Cabinet ministers are expected to resign en masse to let Kim reshuffle his administration.

Estonian Prime Minister Tiit Vahi resigned amid accusations of shady real estate deals. His government must also resign, and the president will nominate a new prime minister.

Russia's rare Amur leopard could face extinction if a seaport in Russia's Far East goes forward as planned, an ecologist said. Environmentalists estimate that there are only 100 leopards in the world - 30 in Russia.

Etceteras

We opposed human cloning when it was a theory. Now that it may be possible, we urge that it be prohibited by law."

- Washington-based BioTechnology Industry Organization, on the cloning of a sheep in Scotland.

Next time your day isn't going well, think of Pamela Reeser in Medford, Ore. She and her cat went to check the new house her family is building across town. They were about to return when she realized the garage was not secured. As she got out of the car with the engine running, the cat tripped the button that locks the doors, leaving her to walk home in the rain for a spare key.

Winter in Manhattan is often raw and cold - not the conditions under which most couples choose to get married. So what explains the 2,109 weddings recorded there in January (88 percent more than in January 1995) and the marriage-license applicants flooding city offices this month? Immigration experts suspect it has to do with changes in federal law that take effect April 1, causing illegal aliens to fear deportation if they're not hitched to US citizens.

For people who object to the noise and dangerous potential of Jet Ski-type "personal watercraft," Rhode Island has come up with what it hopes will be a deterrent this summer. It's a high-tech aquatic equivalent of the radar gun that allows law-enforcement officials to clock - and ticket - riders who exceed local speed limits.

The Day's List

How US Compares to World's Inflation Leaders

Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan is to report to Congress tomorrow on the US economic outlook. He's expected to say that inflation - 3.3 percent last year - is hovering at a low enough level that no immediate increase in federal interest rates is required. These countries had the highest annual inflation (1995 figures - latest available):

1. Zaire 542.0

2. Suriname 238.5

3. Russia 197.4

4. Brazil 184.4

5. Turkey 93.6

6 Venezuela 59.9

7. Madagascar 49.1

8. Uruguay 42.2

9. Lithuania 39.7

10. Mexico 35.0

- "The Top 10 of Everything 1997"

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