News In Brief

The US

The Federal Communication Commission temporarily stopped collecting payments on more than $10 billion owed by companies that made winning bids in an auction to provide mobile-phone and data services. The FCC said it was considering a request by some bidders to make annual, rather than quarterly payments. The New York Times, citing business and congressional sources, said the suspension raised doubts about the agency's ability to collect the huge sums pledged at the auction last year. One of the winning bidders, Pocket Communications Inc., filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this week.

Two companies won licenses to provide a new CD-quality radio service. Satellite CD Radio Inc. of Washington pledged $83.3 million, and American Mobile Radio Corp. of Reston, Va., put up $89.9 million for licenses auctioned by the FCC. Transmitted by satellite nationally or regionally to special receivers, the service would be similar to cable TV. It is still several years away and likely to be offered on a pay-to-listen basis.

A federal jury in Spokane, Wash., reported deadlock over charges that three white separatists had carried out a string of bombings and bank robberies. But it convicted them of lesser offenses carrying up to 35 years in prison. It was not clear whether the three men would be retried for three bombings and two robberies in the Spokane area last year.

A request that jury selection in the Oklahoma City bombing trial be more open was denied by US District Judge Richard Matsch. Reporters had wanted to know if jurors questioned so far had been excused and, if so, why. Matsch said he would continue to keep the process secret.

The National Marine Fisheries Service imposed tighter quotas on recreational fishing in US coastal waters from the North Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico because of concern that some species may be in danger. It also ordered that commercial boats cut their annual catch in half, retroactive to the first of the year. The action banned all fishing for five species of shark considered particularly vulnerable.

The Rev. Benjamin Chavis, a former NAACP director, was suspended by the United Church of Christ. Directors of the church's Eastern North Carolina Association said Chavis "had left the Christian faith." An ordained minister in the Cleveland-based church, Chavis announced in February that he had joined the Nation of Islam. He is now known as Minister Benjamin Chavis Muhammad.

President Clinton designated five counties in Tennessee and three in Washington State as disaster areas because of severe storms last month. The action makes storm victims in Tennessee's Bradley, Hamilton, Polk, Sequatchie, and Smith counties eligible for federal disaster aid - and does the same for people in Washington's Grays Harbor, King, and Mason Counties.

The director of the Secret Service announced plans to step down. Eljay Bowron, a 23-year veteran, has accepted a position as president of the security monitoring division of Ameritech, the Security Service said.

World leaders need to take action now to prevent a possible energy crisis, a Baker Institute for Public Policy report said. The Rice University-based institute said oil markets are more susceptible to disruption now than at any time since the 1970s. It recommended that the US help develop resources in China and other Asian countries to lessen dependence on the Middle East.

US safety officials issued an emergency order for inspection within 15 days of wing-flap bolts on some Boeing 767s. A Delta Air Lines jet lost a 20-foot flap last week when a bolt failed.

Claims for first-time unemployment benefits rose slightly last week, the Labor Department said. The number of claims rose to 314,000 from 313,000 the week before. Economists had reportedly expected 310,000 claims. The four-week moving average, viewed as a more accurate indicator, also rose slightly - up to 312,500 from 312,000.

The World

Israeli Prime Minister Netan-yahu will be asked to offer major concessions to the Palestinians when he meets with US President Clinton in Washington on Monday, news outlets in Jeru-salem reported. Senior Palestinian officials said the concessions must include a halt in building new Jewish settlements in disputed sections of the city and in the West Bank. Meanwhile, a new survey of Israeli Jews indicated a majority would support an independent Palestinian state if that was necessary for peace in the region.

Zairean government and rebel representatives arrived for a new round of talks in South Af-rica on ending the military and political crisis that has gripped their country since last fall. It was not clear whether they would meet face-to-face. In Kinshasa, the Zairean capital, new Prime Minister Etienne Tshisekedi announced a 26-member Cabinet, reserving such key ministries as defense, foreign affairs, trade, planning, and the budget for the rebels.

India's 14-party ruling coalition decided against replacing embattled Prime Minister Deve Gowda, newspapers in New Delhi reported. Deve Gowda must seek a vote of confidence in parliament next week after losing the voting support of the influential Congress Party, which also called for him to resign. Analysts said by its action the coalition was daring the Congress Party to compete in new elections a year after losing heavily at the polls.

South Korea's economy is in "serious trouble" and needs drastic measures to overcome its problems, new finance minister Kang Kyong-shik said. He cited a record trade deficit, nationwide strikes over controversial labor legislation, the bankruptcy of the giant Hanbo Steel Company, and a political bribery scandal. Kang said the government would expand foreign investment and trade, deregulate the economy, and slash $2.2 billion from this year's budget.

After dodging questions for months about his reelection plans, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl announced he would seek a fifth term in office next year. Kohl said he wanted to play a role in the further integration of the European Union and in NATO's eastward expansion. He is the longest-serving head of government in postwar German history, having held the office since 1982.

Britain's Labour Party announced its election platform, one day after the ruling Conservatives released theirs. Labour's manifesto pledged tight controls on spending and taxes - and a job-placement program for 250,000 people on welfare. The Conservative platform calls for a series of tax breaks, especially for families. The election is scheduled for May 1.

European leaders assured Albanian Prime Minister Bashkim Fino that his troubled country would get financial, humanitarian, and "organizational" aid as well as a sizable force of peacekeeping troops to help protect its distribution. They met in Athens.

In a five-day campaign, Algerian troops wiped out a major base used by Muslim insurgent forces, a newspaper reported. El Watan, considered well-informed on Algerian security issues, said that dozens of rebels died in the fighting, which also destroyed a bomb-making facility and a field hospital. The attack took place in a wooded area 60 miles east of Algiers, the capital.

Saying, "We have a responsibility to provide bases and facilities for the US military," Japanese Prime Minister Hashimoto asked parliament to extend the leases on Okinawa for 12 American defense installations. The leases are due to expire May 14. The bases are unpopular because of attacks by US servicemen on Okinawan civilians. But passage appeared certain after Hashimoto's largest opposition party pledged to support it.


"A very clear 'yes!' "

- Chancellor Helmut Kohl, announcing that he'll seek reelection next year to lead Germany into the 21st century.

Visitors to Tokyo's Ueno Zoo were expecting to see the usual assortment of lions, tigers, and gorillas. They weren't prepared for its newest attraction: the world's "most ferocious" creature. Inside that cage was a human being. Actually he was curator Masaru Saito, who gave a one-hour talk on - among other things - mankind's responsibility to other living things in the environment.

Next time your travels take you to St. Mary's, Ontario, you might want to get in a round of golf while you're there. The nine-hole River Valley Golf and Country Club is open all summer and will happily provide a caddy to lug your woods, irons, and putter. Just don't ask for any advice on which club to use, because none of the caddies speak. They're llamas.

So much of legendary blues guitarist Eric Clapton's life - such as a former drug addiction and his son's accidental death - has been in the public eye that he wanted to keep his art collection completely private. It was, until now. But his holdings (among them works by Matisse, Degas, and Utrillo) are going on the auction block in London next month. They're expected to fetch almost $900,000.

The Day's List

Which Players Are Paid Baseball's Top Salaries

As the 1997 season opens, the following major leaguers have guaranteed average annual salaries of $6.5 million or more, not counting incentive pay. The figures were obtained by The Associated Press from players and management sources.

Barry Bonds, Giants $11.5

Albert Belle, White Sox $11.0

Gary Sheffield, Marlins $10.0

Ken Griffey Jr., Mariners $8.5

Roger Clemens, Blue Jays $8.3

John Smoltz, Braves $7.8

Mike Piazza, Dodgers $7.5

Frank Thomas, White Sox $7.3

Cecil Fielder, Yankees $7.2

Alex Fernandez, Marlins $7.0

Jeff Bagwell, Astros $6.9

Ivan Rodriguez, Rangers $6.7

Joe Carter, Blue Jays $6.5

David Cone, Yankees $6.5

Cal Ripken, Orioles $6.5

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