News In Brief

THe US

The Dow Jones industrial average opened sharply lower this week, slipping 111 points by 11 a.m. Monday. Market analysts say investors are concerned the Federal Reserve will continue to raise interest rates as a protection against inflation.

New laws go into effect today that make it harder for immigrants to enter the US and easier to deport those in the country illegally. The new laws makes it tougher on immigrants who stay after their visas expire.

President Clinton planned to announce that the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation had its first surplus - $869 million - in its 22-year history. The PBGC insures private pension plans for millions of Americans. Clinton also was expected to propose tighter audits of pension plans and put forward ideas to improve pension safeguards.

Clinton selected US Army Gen. Wesley Clark as commander of both allied NATO forces in Europe and US forces stationed on the continent, the Pentagon announced. Clark was a key member of the US team that helped to negotiate the 1995 peace accords on Bosnia.

The Pentagon planned to declare the stealth bomber combat-ready after six B-2s become part of its "nuclear war plan" to-day. The B-2s were delivered to Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri three years ago. They can drop earth-penetrating nuclear weapons designed to destroy underground enemy targets, a senior military officer said last week. The Air Force hopes to have 21 of the bombers in service by early in the next decade.

Personal incomes in the US experienced their strongest growth in eight months - a 0.9 percent surge in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $6.71 trillion, the Commerce Department said. It was the largest advance in incomes since June 1996 and more than doubled January's revised 0.4 percent gain. Spending edged up only 0.3 percent to $5.33 trillion following a 1 percent increase in January.

Clinton is open to postponing tax cuts until after Congress votes on a balanced budget, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin said on NBC's "Meet the Press." Rubin also said he expects inflation to stay low and defended the president's decision to reject the creation of a commission to revise the Consumer Price Index.

The US Supreme Court upheld a 1992 federal law requiring cable television systems to carry local stations. The court ruled 5-to-4 that the measure is a lawful effort to protect many small, independent broadcasters from being driven out of business. They rejected cable industry arguments that the law violates free-speech rights.

An Army soldier accused of killing a black couple in North Carolina was scheduled to go on trial in Wilmington. Prosecutors say Malcolm Wright is a white supremacist, and his motive was racism. Wright's codefendant, James Burmeister, was convicted of the 1995 crime last month and is serving a life sentence.

US banks kept at least $5.5 million belonging to Jewish groups that went unclaimed after World War II, the former chief US negotiator for postwar restitution said. Unlike Swiss banks, the US institutions were helpful when holocaust victims came looking for their money, Seymour Rubin said. But he said they didn't turn over accounts from those who died. Swiss banks are under attack for keeping Jewish-owned assets after the war.

The Lady Vols of the University of Tennessee repeated as women's NCAA basketball championships by defeating Old Dominion University of Virginia, 68-59. It was Tennessee's second straight championship and fifth overall. Sophomore All-American Chamique Holdsclaw led the winners with 24 points.

Donald Duck will waddle onto the Web April 9 when the Disney Company offers a free preview of its new site. Disney's Daily Blast - designed for children 3 to 12 - is expected to include games, stories, comics, sports, and news items. Microsoft Network users will have free access to the site for the first 10 months.

The World

Over the protests of human-rights activists, an Israeli bulldozer demolished the West Bank home of a Palestinian suicide bomber who killed three women in a Tel Aviv cafe last month. Meanwhile, Israeli troops wound-ed at least two Palestinians near the town of Jenin in a 12th day of street clashes over the building of new Jewish housing in East Jerusalem. Israeli officials also accused Arab states of trying to topple Prime Minister Netanyahu's government with calls for an economic boycott until the construction stops.

Prime Minister Deve Gowda of India was ordered to ask parliament for a vote of confidence by April 7. The command from President Shankar Dayal Sharma followed announcement by the Congress Party that it had ceased its support of Gowda's 14-party coalition government - ending the coalition's voting majority. Gowda rejected calls to resign. The turmoil was blamed for the fourth-largest one-day drop in Bombay's National Stock Exchange index.

Negotiators from India and Pakistan ended four days of talks on a final peace agreement in New Delhi and agreed to a new round at an unspecified date in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad. A joint statement by the longtime antagonists said the discussions had been "frank, cordial, and constructive."

Aid workers in Zaire transported the first of 20,000 Rwandan Hutu refugees away from a camp they were ordered to leave by rebel leader Laurent Kabila. The Tutsi-dominated rebels want the Rwandans to return home from the camp outside Kisangani, Zaire's third-largest city, for security reasons. But the UN says most of the refugees are not strong enough to make the 300-mile trip.

Insurgent leaders in Albania vowed to repel Italian members of an international security force until those responsible for sinking a refugee boat are arrested. Italy is investigating the incident in which as many as 83 Albanians may have drowned in a collision with one of its warships. Italy is scheduled to lead a mission charged with protecting humanitarian relief efforts in Albania.

The traditional Protestant marching season in Northern Ireland began peacefully but amid warnings that the province was close to resuming all-out sectarian violence. In Belfast, onlookers jeered the Apprentice Boys Order as "yellow cowards" for deciding not to provoke resentment by parading through a Catholic neighborhood.

Union with Belarus was approved by Russian President Yeltsin, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported. It said he OK'd a draft treaty under which the two former Soviet republics would remain independent but coordinate military, foreign, and economic policies. Yeltsin and Belarus President Lukashenko are expected to sign the treaty tomorrow in Moscow.

Newspapers in Turkey report-ed that the country's armed forces would give the government until April 30 to prove it was acting to keep Islam out of public life. As the military-dominated National Security Council met in Ankara, the capital, one Cabinet minister called for replacing the current government with a secular administration. At a weekend concert, Muslim Prime Minister Erbakan was subjected to chants by the rest of the audience: "Turkey is secularist and will stay that way!"

Minority parties in Indonesia complained that election funds provided by the government to cover their campaign costs were inadequate. One official said his party would have to try to supplement its $208,000 share from "alternative" sources. The campaign opens April 27; the election is May 29. A government spokesman from the ruling Gol-kar Party said Indonesia could not afford to give more.

Etceteras

"Unfortunately, there are bigots on both sides with only small lives to live ... who are not interested in compromise."

- An Apprentice Boys leader, dismissing Protestant jeers because his marchers avoided a Catholic area of Belfast.

There are stories of personal sacrifice, and then there is what music teacher Nancy Ehlinger did so her women's ensemble could sing in Carnegie Hall April 27. The Milwaukee group needed $37,000 for the trip to New York. Because fund-raisers and donations didn't meet the goal, she borrowed the difference from her retirement account.

Heard about the new Steven Spielberg film yet? "Amistad" is the story of an 1841 US Supreme Court decision that freed 53 Africans brought to the US aboard a slave ship. The all-star cast includes Anthony Hopkins, Morgan Freeman, Matthew McConaughey, and Harry Blackmun. If you're wondering where you've seen the latter's name before, he served on the high court from 1970 to 1994.

Add another to the list of woes affecting the FBI these days. It seems the bureau's old toll-free hot line for reporting corruption is now assigned to a phone-sex agency. Problem is, some directories still show the number as being the FBI's. The bureau is embarrassed about the - uh - connection. The agency is annoyed because accepting calls meant for the FBI is cutting into profits.

The Day's List

Cars Unlikely to End Up In the Breakdown Lane

The most-dependable car makes after four or five years of ownership, according to J. D. Power and Associates. The market research firm surveyed 21,000 owners of 1992 models, who rated their vehicles in 89 categories. It also considered durability of parts and the frequency and quality of warranty work. The number in parentheses is the 1996 ranking. Those without a number ranked below the industry average last year.

1. Lexus (1)

2. Cadillac (4)

3. Audi

4. Infiniti (3)

5. Lincoln

6. Acura (9)

7. Mercedes-Benz (5)

8. Honda (12)

9. Buick (6)

10. Toyota (7)

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