News In Brief

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THE US

President Clinton and his GOP partners began promoting their long-anticipated accord to balance the US budget by 2002. A strong economy helped to bridge the differences, as negotiators learned there was an estimated $200 billion to $225 billion in extra revenue available over the next five years. The agreement includes a net $85 billion in tax cuts, $115 billion in Medicare savings, and $85 billion in reductions of other domestic programs.

Texas authorities combed the woods for two separatists who did not join their colleagues in a peaceful ending to a weeklong standoff. Richard McLaren, the self-styled ambassador of Republic of Texas secessionists, and three followers gave themselves up - leaving behind 24 pipe bombs, eight to 10 gasoline cans with coils around them, a propane tank with a pipe bomb attached, and 10 rifles with up to 700 rounds of ammunition, authorities said. But two other separatists eluded authorities and fled into the remote Davis mountains.

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A mechanical failure likely brought down TWA flight 800 last July, killing all 230 people aboard, FBI Director Louis Freeh said on NBC's "Meet the Press." He added, however, that neither the FBI nor the National Transportation Safety Board had reached a formal conclusion on the midair explosion.

Goodyear and the United Steelworkers Union announced a tentative agreement that may end a strike that has idled 12,000 workers in seven states for two weeks. Employees will not go back to work until the proposal is ratified by union members. Details of the six-year deal were not disclosed.

AT&T promised to pass on to customers any savings from a federal overhaul of telephone access charges, apparently clearing the way for a 5- to 15-percent cut in long-distance phone rates. The savings would come from cutting access fees paid to local phone companies and from changes in regulatory formulas that the Federal Communications Commission uses to calculate fees.

Only public workers can determine who is eligible for welfare benefits, the Clinton administration said, rejecting a Texas plan to turn that work over to private contractors. Texas officials had hoped to provide one-stop shopping for aid ranging from food stamps and Medicaid to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The ruling does not prohibit Texas from soliciting private companies to design a more efficient welfare system.

A treasure of Czarist paintings and artifacts was expected to arrive in Houston after a financial settlement ended a three-week dispute between the Russian government and a private foundation. The parties reportedly plan more talks to determine whether the exhibit will continue on to Memphis, Tenn., and San Diego. A standoff between Russian authorities and the American-Russian Cultural Cooperation Foundation began after a 10-week exhibit of the treasures closed April 13 in Washington.

The Justice Department has stepped up a criminal inquiry to determine whether cigarette makers systematically lied to Congress and US agencies about business practices and the addictiveness of nicotine, The Washington Post said. Also, the Justice Department appealed a US court ruling that the Food and Drug Administration cannot regulate cigarette ads and promotions.

Three corporations were fined a total of $168,000 by election regulators for illegally raising money from their employees for President Bush's reelection campaign or other GOP committees in 1992. Cherry Communications Inc. agreed to pay a $150,000 penalty. Chrysler and Deloitte & Touche, a Connecticut-based accounting firm, were fined $11,000 and $7,000, respectively.

A rematch began between world chess champion Garry Kasparov and IBM's "Deep Blue" computer. Kasparov beat the computer last year four games-to two, and won the first of two games scheduled over the weekend. The winner of the six-game match takes home $700,000 of a $1.1 million purse put up by IBM. Above, with chess board and computer monitor sharing a desk in front of him, Kasparov ponders a move during the first game of the current series.

THE WORLD

Zairean President Mobutu asked for eight days to consider a rebel demand that he resign, as the two sides met face-to-face aboard a South African Navy vessel anchored off the Congo coast. Rebel chief Laurent Kabila rejected Mobutu's offer to step down and hand power to an interim third party with whom the rebels would then negotiate. Kabila agreed to, but then retreated from, a cease-fire as a "goodwill gesture." A second round of talks was expected to be called by mediator Nelson Mandela, the South African president.

Britain's new Labour government will follow a policy of "constructive engagement" with the European Union, Foreign Secretary Robin Cooke said. He said Britain would join in signing a Europe-wide code on working hours and union rights. Prime Minister Blair also made headlines by including five women among his first Cabinet appointments. In the Conservative Party, speculation mounted on who would seek the leadership after former Prime Minister John Major said he would step down following last week's landslide election defeat.

Mexican government leaders and US President Clinton were expected to discuss - but tread lightly on - the sensitive issue of immigration when he meets with them today. Analysts said Clinton was likely to assure Mexico that its relationship with the US was secure despite recent flareups over stemming the flow of illegal drugs. He also is scheduled to be the first US president who meets with opposition-party leaders. Mexico holds national elections in July.

Tens of thousands of protesters dropped to the pavement in front of Taiwan President Lee Teng Hui's office in a rally against his government's failure to stop the spread of violent crime. The crowd, estimated at more than twice the size expected by organizers, demanded the resignation of Primer Lien Chan and a reshuffling of the Cabinet. The interior ministry has admitted to an 80 percent increase in Taiwan's crime rate so far this decade.

Two key towns near the border with Pakistan were recaptur-ed after heavy fighting with opposition forces, Afghanistan's Taliban militia said. Shegal and Asmar had been under the control of Hizb-i-Islami guerrillas for less than a month. News reports said the two sides had lost almost 40 men and that about 100 others were wounded in the clashes. Above, two Taliban soldiers load a shell into an artillery piece.

Supporters of an Indonesian minority party were halted by rifle-pointing soldiers as they carried mock coffins through the streets of Yogyakarta to symbolize the death of democracy. No shots were fired, but two protesters reportedly were hurt when other troops beat them with sticks. The demonstration began as a protest against an attack on the local office of the Muslim-based United Development Party.

Car bombs exploded 10 minutes apart at an Algerian health resort, killing at least 15 people, injuring 23 others, and destroying a hotel. There were no claims of responsibility, but suspicion fell on Islamic fundamentalist rebels, who have carried out hundreds of other attacks in the past five years. The incidents at Sidi Bouhanifia, 200 miles from the capital, Algiers, came as President Zeroual was to tell an election campaign rally that his government had defeated terrorism.

More than 100,000 people jammed Milan's cathedral square for an antigovernment, anticommunist rally one week before runoff elections for mayor in several major Italian cities. Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi drew roars from the crowd when he said rightists had begun the "long march toward reconquest" of the country. Italy's current prime minister, Romano Prodi, depends on Communist support to remain in power.

ETCETERAS

"It is time for a little fence-mending. It is time to kiss and make up."

-- Analyst M. Delal Baer of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, on President Clinton's visit to Mexico.

If you're planning to be in New York on the Fourth of July there will be a - well - moving tribute that you might want to catch. On that date, the 50-cent fare on the famous Staten Island ferry will be eliminated. It seems the city is switching to computerized transit cards, and it's cheaper to make the ferry ride free than to upgrade the turnstiles inside the terminal.

Elsewhere in New York, it has been rough sailing for another famous vessel. Producers of "Titanic," a Broadway musical about the epic 1912 disaster, had to cancel several previews and send the audience home midway through another performance because - of all things - an electrical problem kept the centerpiece of the show from sinking.

Anna Gluchacki was boiling eggs on her stove in Fall River, Mass., when she was startled by what sounded like peeping. She incubated the eggs instead, and - sure enough - one of them hatch-ed and yielded a chick. Poultry experts doubt that what she heard was really peeping but say it's not the first time someone has brought a fertilized egg home from the supermarket.

THE DAY'S LIST

Roosevelt Institute Gives Freedom Awards to Five

Five Americans have received this year's Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedom Awards. They are presented each year to honor people committed to the principles Roosevelt believed essential to democracy: freedom of speech, freedom to worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. This year's medals were presented in Washington May 1, a day before the dedication there of the new Roosevelt Memorial. The recipients:

Katharine Graham, chairwoman, The Washington Post Company

Retired U.S. Sen. Mark Hatfield (R) of Oregon

U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye (D) of Hawaii

U.S. Rep. Sidney Yates (D) of Illinois

Former US Rep. Bill Gray of Pennsylvania, now president of the United Negro College Fund

- Associated Press

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