News In Brief

The US

The former chairman of the Democratic National Committee denied asking the CIA to vouch for a donor seeking meetings with White House officials. Don Fowler also disputed reports that he pressured a National Security Council aide not to oppose White House meetings with oil financier Roger Tamraz. Tamraz, wanted on embezzlement charges in Lebanon, attended six White House functions in the last two years.

The Senate was scheduled to vote on a GOP resolution calling for an independent counsel to investigate White House fund-raising. The nonbinding resolution urges Attorney General Janet Reno to ask a US court to appoint a prosecutor. Democrats proposed a resolution that would couple any investigation of the White House with a probe of congressional fund-raising.

The Senate rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have let Congress set spending and contribution limits on campaigns for federal office. The vote was 61-to-38 against the proposal, which would have allowed similar limits for state and local elections. The amendment fell 29 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to win Senate approval.

President Clinton was to meet with congressional leaders to continue talks on a compromise budget. The meeting was expected to be complicated by Republican divisions over House Speaker Newt Gingrich's suggestion that discussion of major tax cuts be delayed until the budget is balanced.

The president was scheduled to fly overnight to Helsinki for a summit with Russian President Boris Yeltsin. At the top of the agenda is the planned expansion of NATO, opposed by Yeltsin.

White House lawyers were reviewing the records of acting CIA director George Tenet, following the sudden withdrawal of Anthony Lake from consideration for the post. Tenet was said to be the front-runner to replace Lake as Clinton's nominee to head the agency. Others being considered: Morton Abramowitz, outgoing head of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Strobe Talbott, the No. 2 official at the State Department.

The US Supreme Court ruled that a key environmental law allows people to sue even if they seek less, not more, protection for endangered species. The un-animous decision said those claiming economic harm may use the Endangered Species Act to file lawsuits accusing the government of being overly protective. The ruling, in an Oregon case, is a defeat for the Clinton administration, which had sought a one-way interpretation of the law.

Consumer prices moved up moderately in February, the Labor Department said. The report was viewed as new evidence that inflation is mostly under control. The department said the consumer price index rose 0.3 percent after expanding 0.1 percent in January.

Foreign aircraft will be charged for flying over US territory as of May 19, the Federal Aviation Administration said. Fees are expected to generate $93 million a year, covering the cost of navigation and communication services provided by US air-traffic controllers. Commercial planes over US territory will be charged $78.90 per 100 nautical miles. Noncommercial aircraft fees will be much lower.

Former US Rep. Wes Cooley of Oregon was found guilty of lying about his Korean War rec-ord in a election pamphlet aimed at voters. The Republican, who left office in January under pressure from his party, must pay a $5,000 fine and $2,110 in prosecution expenses, and perform 100 hours of community service.

Most children decide on their own whether to use drugs - with little concern for antidrug messages they get from instructors at school, a California study indicated. The report, published in the journal Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, adds to research critical of drug-abuse education programs, which have received billions in federal subsidies.

The World

Israel's Supreme Court refused to block construction of Jewish housing in mainly Arab East Jerusalem. The court had been petitioned by a coalition of opposition politicians, Arab land-owners, and Israeli peace acti-vists. As the court deliberated, bulldozers resumed ground-breaking for the new units.

Jordan's prime minister was fired by King Hussein and replaced by the man who signed the country's 1994 peace treaty with Israel. Abdul Karim al-Kaba-riti suggested his ouster was related to recent tensions between the two countries. Hussein was expected to leave tomorrow for a diplomatic visit to the US, postponed after one of his soldiers killed seven Israeli schoolgirls.

Hardliners in Russia's parliament vowed to reject the START II nuclear arms-reduction treaty if NATO accepted any Eastern European countries into membership. They said they questioned whether President Yeltsin would stand up to his US counterpart, Bill Clinton, on NATO expansion at their Helsinki summit today. Meanwhile, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported that Russia can't afford to build its highly maneuverable MFI advanced fighter jet or to modernize many other key weapons systems until its weak economy improves.

President Mobutu of Zaire scheduled a news conference for today, apparently to discuss his plans in the face of the country's growing rebel insurgency. With Mobutu in France for medical treatment, Prime Minister Leon Kengo wa Dondo attended a conference in Kenya on the Zairean crisis. As he left for the meeting, members of parliament voted to oust him from office, although it was not clear whether the vote was valid.

North Korean defector Hwang Jang-yop's stay in the Philippines will be "as short as possible," President Fidel Ramos said. He said Hwang's exact location would not be disclosed because his safety was "of paramount importance." Hwang flew to the Philippines from Beijing March 18, en route to political asylum in rival South Korea.

Poland's Solidarity union movement threw its support behind nationwide protests over the closing of the famous Gdansk shipyard. Solidarity members took over offices in the government's treasury, finance, and economics ministries in Warsaw and demanded written guarantees of aid for the 3,600 shipyard workers who will lose their jobs.

China has proposed freeing jailed political dissident Wang Dan and sending him abroad in a bid to improve relations with the US, a Hong Kong newspaper reported. Sing Tao said Wang, ser-ving an 11-year term for subversion, agreed to the plan if his mother could accompany him. Vice President Al Gore is due in Beijing next week, and Chinese President Jiang Zemin is scheduled to visit the US later this year.

Ethnic unrest in western China has stalled plans to relocate tens of thousands of people from the area where the giant Three Gorges dam is to be built, informed sources said. The plan calls for the mostly Han Chinese who will be uprooted by the project to be resettled in Xinjiang Province. But the province has been the scene of recent violence between other Han and ethnic Uighur Muslims, who resent their presence and have vowed to remain restive.

A police compound/ammunition depot exploded in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, causing heavy damage, the Red Cross said. At least 16 people died and more than 200 others were reported hospitalized. The blast also levelled hundreds of homes and left live ordnance strewn across a wide area. It was unclear whether sabotage was responsible because Jalalabad has been calm since its capture by the Taliban religious army last September.

Etceteras

"Netanyahu is telling us, 'I'm going to settle the issue ... by bulldozers, and you have no option but to take it or leave it.' "

- Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, on strained relations with Israel over new housing construction in East Jerusalem.

Police in Newport News, Va., were spot-checking vehicle registrations, when along came William DeLashmutt. His license plate - instead of being issued by the state - read "Kingdom of Heaven." So did his driver's license. It seems he's a member of a group called the Embassy of Heaven Church, which claims authority to operate outside any state's jurisdiction. But after being convicted of operating an unregistered vehicle, he agreed to get the proper documents.

And on the subject of vehicles, if you've always wanted to own a new Ford Thunderbird, you have only until the end of the current model year to get on over to a dealership and make your selection. The automaker is retiring the storied T-bird and its cousin, the Mercury Cougar, because of weak sales. They'll be back on the market eventually, Ford says, but in smaller and sportier form and probably not until after the turn of the century.

The Day's List

Highest Prices Paid At Vintage Car Auction

Vintage cars are unlikely to lose value and may even appreciate as much as 20 percent over the next year, according to Kruse International Inc., of Auburn, Ind., the world's largest collector-car auction firm. These classics are followed by the year sold and price at auction (in millions of dollars):

1933 Bugatti Kellnar Royale Coupe all original (1989) $11.5

1931 Bugatti Royale Berline DeVoyage four door (1988) $6.5

1959 Ferrari 250 GTO (1989) $3.3

1933 Duesenberg Torpedo Phaeton (1988) $3.25

1933 Duesenberg "J" Victoria custom built for Greta Garbo (1996) $2.8

1936 Mercedes 500K Special Roadster SWB (1989) $2.75

1936 Mercedes-Benz 500K Special Roadster (1995) $1.85

1932 Duesenberg Phaeton (1996) $1.75

1944 Mercedes-Benz 770K Grand Touring (armored) (1989) $1.6

1933 Packard Dietrich 12-cylinder (1987) $1.135

- Associated Press

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