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News In Brief

By CompiledRobert KilbornLance Carden, and Debbie Hodges / April 7, 1997



THE US

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US public schools are slipping back into racial segregation, the Harvard Graduate School of Education reported. It said a study of enrollment statistics found that from 1991 to 1994 the nation took the largest backward step toward segregation since the Supreme Court declared segregation laws unconstitutional in 1954. The report says schools are segregating again as nonwhites become increasingly concentrated in urban areas.

White House aides Erskine Bowles and Mack McLarty would not have tried to help Webster Hubbell if they had known he was going to plead guilty to two felony counts, the Clinton administration said. Spokesman Mike McCurry told CNN's "Capital Gang" the men were trying to help the former associate attorney general find work to support his family. Bowles, the White House chief of staff, received a subpoena late last week to appear before the Whitewater grand jury to answer questions about aiding Hubbell.

Congress returns from its spring break today, and officials on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are pondering a budget compromise. White House aides reportedly were sounding out congressional staff about elements of a deal. Talks with key lawmakers may be held soon.

Payroll growth slowed to a smaller-than-expected 175,000 non-farm jobs last month - down from 293,000 in February, the Labor Department said. The unemployment rate edged down to 5.2 percent from 5.3 percent, but wages crept upward. The decline in joblessness was the second consecutive monthly drop.

Astronauts aboard the space shuttle Columbia prepared for an early return to Earth. A failing electric generator forced the decision to cut short a planned 16-day mission, officials said. The shuttle blasted into orbit Friday.

Some 3,500 United Auto Workers went on strike a at a GM assembly plant in Oklahoma City late last week. Union officials said talks on a local contract resumed over the weekend. Sticking points included manpower, safety, and outsourcing of assembly work. Also, machinists at Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth, Texas, plant were scheduled to vote on starting a work slowdown or going on strike if a new accord was not reached before their contract expired at 12:01 a.m. today. A walkout could shut the plant's F-16 assembly line.

The US has tentatively agreed to pay $26 million to the estate of the late President Nixon for his White House papers, The Washington Post reported. Under an accord that could end a two-decade legal battle, control of the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, Calif., would be turned over to the National Archives, the Post said, quoting US and Nixon family sources. All materials seized following Nixon's resignation would be shipped to California under the agreement.

The US will proceed with underground explosions this year, using nuclear materials at a test site in Nevada, officials said. Energy Department scientists said each of two tests, one in June and a second in the fall, would involve chemical, not nuclear, explosions. Small amounts of plutonium would be used, but the blasts will not result in nuclear chain reactions, they said. Opponents view the tests as a possible prelude to renewed nuclear testing and development of new weapons. (Related editorial, Page 20).

Hundreds of people fled flooding in the northern plains as rain and snow added to swollen rivers and streams. Volunteers in Montevideo, Minn., braved subfreezing temperatures to fill sandbags and protect the town's sole water supply from the Chippewa and Minnesota rivers.

New York investment banker Felix Rohatyn is considered the leading contender to be nominated as the nation's next ambassador to France, US officials said. Rohatyn would fill the position left vacant by Pamela Harriman, who died in Paris Feb. 5.

Allen Ginsberg, who shattered conventions as poet laureate of the Beat Generation, died in Manhattan. His first taste of fame and notoriety came after his book "Howl and Other Poems" was published in 1956.

THE WORLD

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was expected in Roch-ester, Minn., for discussions with King Hussein of Jordan prior to his meeting today at the White House with President Clinton. Hussein - who is undergoing medical treatment at the Mayo clinic - is a critic of Israel's decision to build new Jewish housing in East Jerusalem, which has triggered the latest round of Pal-estinian violence. Netanyahu was said to be hoping he could win Clinton's backing for a so-called "final status" peace deal with the Palestinians covering all aspects of the Middle East stalemate in negotiations lasting six months.

The first face-to-face peace negotiations between Zairean government and rebel representatives opened in South Africa. The tone of the meeting was described as grudging, and a spokesman said the two sides only informally exchanged ideas. Meanwhile, rebel forces pushed closer to Zaire's No. 2 city, Lubumbashi.