News In Brief

The US

President Clinton was expected to renew most-favored-nation trade status for China for another year, unidentified US officials said. The action seemed certain to spur a major debate in Congress, where many lawmakers have indicated they would fight to overturn such a decision.

The possibility of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates today seemed to be causing less anxiety on Wall Street than it did two months ago, when interest rates went up a quarter of a point, observers said. The economic expansion that began in March 1991 is in its 74th month.

Defense Secretary William Cohen was scheduled to reveal results of his department's quadrennial review. While proposing a reduction of 100,000 people from the 1.4 million active-duty and 900,000 reserve forces, the review reportedly does not lay out any major changes in the overall defense posture.

The Treasury Department has developed a new strategy for the war on drugs, The New York Times reported. Under guidelines about to be announced, all nonbank wire transfers of more than $750 will have to be reported, making it tougher for drug cartels to move money out of the US. Currently, only wire transfers of $10,000 or more must be reported, except in New York City, which requires that transfers of $750 or more be reported.

Attorney General Janet Reno criticized California's Proposition 209, which bans consideration of race and gender in state hiring, contracting, and education - linking it to growing anti-immigrant sentiments. Proposition 209 was approved by voters in November, but has not taken effect because of legal challenges. "We must always honor this country as a nation of immigrants," Reno told graduating students during a commencement address at the University of California's Hastings College of Law.

Garry Kasparov asked for a rematch with the IBM supercomputer, Deep Blue. But the computer designers have refused to commit to another face-off with the world chess champion. The computer beat the Russian 3-1/2 points to 2-1/2 in a six-game match that ended a week ago. Kasparov challenges IBM to a 10-game match over 20 days in an essay published in this week's Time magazine.

Joan Kroc, widow of the founder of McDonald's, was identified as the mystery donor offering $15 million to help rebuild flooded Grand Forks, N.D., and East Grand Forks, Minn. After the Grand Forks Herald reported that a Gulfstream IV jet registered in her name had visited the local airport, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D) of North Dakota confirmed her as the donor. Since April, residents have referred to their benefactor as "Angel."

The US Supreme Court agreed to decide whether bans on using lie-detector tests as evidence in criminal trials violates some defendants' rights. The justices will review the California case of a court-martialed airman in which the nation's highest military court threw out such a flat ban as unconstitutional. Many state and US courts have upheld similar bans, so the case could affect civilian as well as military law.

Black students have closed part of the education gap between themselves and white students, the American Council on Education said. The council reported that blacks and whites in their late 20s have about the same high school-completion rate - 87 percent. But there's still a gap in younger-age groups, an indication that many blacks are passing high school-equivalency exams later in life. Also, blacks and Hispanics still are inishing college at a much lower rate than whites. The rates are 26 percent for whites, 15 percent for blacks, and 9 percent for Hispanics.

Storms and twisters tore a swath through the Midwest from Illinois to West Virginia, leaving tens of thousands of homes without power. Police in Ottawa, Ohio, said a woman died when a tree fell on her car. At least eight homes were destroyed in LaGrange, Ind., and one police officer was hurt when his car was hit by a powerful storm.

The World

The announcement of a new government in Zaire was expected from self-declared president Laurent Kabila. But a Kabila spokesman said new elections would be held only after Zaire's people had been "reeducated" starting at the level of peasant collectives. Meanwhile, deposed President Mobutu and three close aides were reported to be guests of Togo's leader, Gnassingbe Eyadema, in the capital, Lom.

US Ambassador Martin Indyk said the mutual trust that form-ed the basis of Israel's peace agreement with the Palestinians "has broken down . . . and cannot be salvaged by a quick fix." He said the US cannot advance the peace process without direct negotiations between them. Responding, Palestinian Authority President Arafat complained that the US had failed to pressure Israel "to save" the process.

Kurdish rebels struck back at Turkey, launching a rear-guard action at government installations in the southeastern region of the country. The move came as the campaign by Turkish forces against rebel targets in northern Iraq entered its sixth day. The raid on Turkish soil appeared aimed at demonstrating that the rebels are still active in the area, despite government claims that they had been pushed out of the country.

Japan's overall trade surplus more than doubled last month from April 1996 - and in the case of the US grew 174 percent, the government in Tokyo report-ed. The increases were attributed to a weak yen, which made exports more attractive, and to a consumption-tax hike that held down domestic demand. Analysts said continued increases in the surplus can be expected for at least the next few months until the yen strengthens.

With 43 days to go until Hong Kong reverts to Communist Chinese control, more of its residents still prefer democratic leadership to that of Beijing, a new survey showed. The South China Morning Post said its poll of 610 adults gave prodemocracy parties 38.2 percent support, to 24.9 for pro-Beijing leader-in-waiting Tung Chee Hwa. Another 30.9 percent said they did not know whom to back.

Two Sinn Fein leaders argued before authorities in the British Parliament that they should be allowed to assume the offices they were elected to on May 1. Party president Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness won seats from districts in Northern Ireland. But the new Speaker of the House of Commons ruled they could not use their offices unless they swore allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II along with all other members of Parliament. Sinn Fein, the political ally of the Irish Republican Army, does not recognize the authority of the British crown.

Women in Vietnam are being left behind in the drive to reform the economy along market lines, a new report maintained. It said women were paid less than three-quarters of the wages earned by men while carrying 60 percent of the overall workload on top of household chores and bringing up children, especially in the agricultural sector. The report warned that many women were turning to prostitution and drug abuse under the stress.

The leader of Mongolia's formerly communist People's Revolutionary Party won by a landslide in the country's presidential election. Natsagiin Bagabandi defeated incumbent Punsalmaagiin Ochirbat in what analysts called a backlash against the latter's strategy of free-market reforms, which have driven up consumer prices and left thousands of people unemployed.

More than 500,000 people were evacuated from their homes as a cyclone raked the coast of Bangladesh. Early reports said one person was killed and at least 50 others hurt, with thousands of houses demolished even though the storm off the Bay of Bengal did not hit at high tide. A 1991 cyclone caused 139,000 deaths and heavy property losses.

Etceteras

"I think IBM owes me, and all mankind, a rematch."

- World chess champion Garry Kasparov, challenging the IBM supercomputer to a new 10-game series.

Don't call Lynn Elliott flighty, but the McPherson, Kan., resident thought she would never see her purse again after it fell from her family's private plane two years ago. Wrong. Last week, a youngster found the leather bag in a field on his family's farm near Westfall, Kan., 40 miles away. It was weather worn but still held nearly $300 in travelers checks, $80 in cash, and credit cards.

It was the sort of story judge Arthur Doran says he hears all the time from defendants in traffic court. As he drove to work in Yonkers, N.Y., he thought his eyes were playing tricks on him when he saw a horse heading his way. But sure enough, a mare named Butterfly Sahbra had jumped a three-foot fence at Yonkers racetrack and was galloping down the street in mid-rush hour.

Add $10,000 more to the amount little Kiefer, Okla., has on hand to help retire its $200,000 debt. As related in this space recently, the police chief raised $5,000 by sitting atop town hall and pleading with passersby for donations. Now the town has held a garage sale and auction. A truckoad of gravel brought $90, but the top attraction was a dunk tank. Anyone paying a buck got three tries to plunge a town official into a tub of water.

The Day's List

Where the US Spent Its Defense Dollars in 1996

For the second year in a row, Lockheed Martin was paid more in defense contracts than any other US company, according to the Pentagon. The aerospace giant builds F-16s, helicopters, missiles, and electronic and communications gear. The top 10 defense contractors and their awards (in billions of dollars):

1. Lockheed Martin $12.0

2. McDonnell Douglas 9.9

3. General Motors 3.2

4. Raytheon 3.0

5. General Dynamics 2.7

6. (tie) Northrop Grumman 2.6

United Technologies 2.6

8. (tie) Boeing 1.7

Litton Industries 1.7

10. General Electric 1.5

- Associated Press

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