News In Brief

By , Abraham McLaughlin, and Noel Paul

The US

The US government wants to send Joe Camel packing. The FTC charged cigarette maker R.J. Reynolds with unfair ad practices, saying the camel cartoon aims to entice children to smoke and should be banned. RJR denied the claim. The move now goes before a judge and could take up to a year.

The Oklahoma City bombing trial was handed over to the jury after closing arguments. Many observers said the paucity of evidence presented by the defense hints at a guilty verdict.

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Residents in Jarrell, Texas, continued to clean up tornado damage. Officials accounted for all missing people and put the death toll at 28. The Red Cross number for callers to offer assistance is: 1-800-HELP-NOW.

The Chicago Bulls beat the Miami Heat in Chicago, 100-87, grabbing the Eastern Conference title. Michael Jordan had 15 points in the first quarter alone. Heading into last night's game in Houston, Utah led Houston, 3-2, in the best-of-seven Western series.

Canada released three of four US fishing boats it detained. But the US still won't discuss a pact to divide northwest salmon stocks. It first wants Canada to stop detaining boats and show that it's ready to deal. Canada has accused US fishermen of overfishing the salmon, which travel through Alaskan waters into Canadian waters.

Alaska's Gov. Tony Knowles signed into law a $1-per-pack tax on cigarettes - the nation's highest. He said the price will discourage smoking by kids. It goes into effect in October.

Americans' charitable giving is growing. It totaled $150.7 billion in 1996, up 7.3 percent from 1995, says the American Association of Fund-Raising Counsel. The booming economy is seen as the main reason.

There's no word on why Air Force Pilot Amy Lynn Svoboda's A-10 attack plane crashed at a remote training base in Arizona. It was the second A-10 crash in two months. She couldn't eject before the plane went down.

Five Army trainees testified they had sex with drill Sgt. Vernell Robinson Jr. at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. They said he told them to keep quiet about it. He is charged with sexual misconduct and interfering with the investigation against him. Twelve staff members were charged in the investigation.

Two top officials defended the military's gender and sex standards. Defense Secretary William Cohen said prohibitions against adultery and some sex are needed for discipline. Gen. William Hartzog, head of the Army's training command, said recent sex scandals at training camps stem from "a few bad apples," not a flawed system.

No lipstick, close-cropped hair, unlocked barracks: Those are some of the rules for 32 women accepted into Roanoke's Virginia Military Institute, according to an outline filed in federal court. Last year, the Supreme Court said the school can't receive state funding while barring women.

The number of charter schools in the US has doubled every year since 1992, when the first one opened, an Education Department study said. There were 252 of the publicly funded but largely independent schools in the 1995-96 school year. Small classes are the norm, and average enrollment was 275.

Former Miami city manager Cesar Odio pleaded guilty to telling an underling to lie to cover up alleged kickbacks. In return, prosecutors dropped charges that could have resulted in a 35-year prison sentence. The case led to discovery of a $68 million shortfall caused by years of corruption.

Don't disconnect your car's air bags, says a major air bag maker. TRW Inc. is making the pitch as officials get ready to allow owners the option. Sixty six deaths have been attributed to air bags, although officials say they've also saved 1,800 lives.

The World

President Clinton, backing British Prime Minister Tony Blair, called on the Irish Republican Army to lay down its arms during a joint news conference in London with his counterpart. He also reached out to the new government in Tehran, saying the US's 18-year estrangement with Iran can come to an end if the country abandons its support for terrorism.

Laurent Kabila was sworn in as president of Congo in the capital, Kinshasa. He gave himself sweeping powers that include ruling by decree and the right to hire and fire state workers at will. Kabila also set up three branches of government - executive, legislative, and a nominally independent judiciary - until democratic elections are held in two years.

With only 6.5 percent of the votes counted in Indonesia's parliamentary elections, the Golkar Party was headed for an overwhelming victory, analysts said. The Muslim-oriented United Development Party and the Indonesian Democratic Party had received little support in early tallies. They were the only other parties permitted by the government to run in the tightly controlled race.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied Israeli news reports that he plans to offer the Palestinians less than 40 percent of the West Bank in talks on a permanent peace pact. Haaretz newspaper said the plan would give the Palestinians no land link between the northern and southern parts of their territory in the West Bank. The Palestinians now control 27 percent of the West Bank. Israel also plans to set aside $16.5 million for further development of Jewish settlements, the Treasury Department said.

Nigeria sent hundreds of troops to Sierra Leone to increase pressure on the leaders of a military coup to surrender. The troops will bolster other Nigerians stationed outside the capital, Freetown, since 1994. The UN hoped to start flying its workers out of the country, and Lebanon evacuated 242 Lebanese women and children. Sunday's coup was Sierra Leone's third in five years.

French markets dropped to a three-month low against the deutsche mark Wednesday on fears that the opposition left might win Sunday's runoff vote. Socially minded Gaullist Philippe Seguin, the outgoing National Assembly Speaker and a favorite among French voters, has emerged as the man to succeed outgoing Prime Minister Alain Jupp if the right wins the vote. Some 1,183 candidates will contest runoffs in 565 of France's 577 National Assembly constituencies in the second round of elections.

Opposition factions attacked the Taliban army in northeastern and central Afghanistan, and scores of soldiers were killed or wounded in a battle north of Kabul. The Taliban also began peace talks with opponents in Mazar-i-Sharif, where the Taliban was recently driven out, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said.

Two Somali factions announced a cease-fire in Cairo after meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Hussein Aidid and Ali Mahdi Mohamed said they would invite other factions to begin reconciliation talks to end Somalia's civil war, which began in 1991. Two previous cease-fire agreements between the two leaders broke down in clan fighting.

Papua New Guinea unveiled a plan to peacefully end a nine-year secessionist rebellion on Bougainville Island. The strategy includes negotiations with the rebels, increasing Bougainvilleans' control of their own affairs, and efforts for peacekeeping operations for the Papua New Guinea military on the island. Thousands have been killed in the South Pacific conflict.

Etceteras

"There are some who now suggest that the military is preaching Victorian values in the Age of Aquarius.... They would have the military define decency down."

- Defense Secretary William Cohen at the Air Force Academy's graduation, saying high standards are critical in wartime.

Rush-hour commuters in suburban Detroit got a break from the monotony when an armored truck spilled as much as $600,000 onto a freeway. Some commuters helped pick up the cash when police officers closed the highway for 1-1/2 hours to cleanup. But others couldn't resist the finders-keepers rule: Authorities believe one man took off with as much as $20,000 in $20 bills.

A garbage truck in historic Bristol, Vt., has extra horsepower to get the job done. Selectmen voted to approve a horse-drawn wagon to cover the eight-mile garbage route. Officials say it will add to the community's friendly, small-town image. The driver plans to carry a shovel to pick up after Luke and Zack, too.

Here's some food for thought. The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor plans to recycle food students don't eat instead of sending the leftovers to a landfill. As much as 130 tons of food from dormitory kitchens per year will be added to yard compost piles.

The Day's List

Polysyllabic Stumblers in National Spelling Bee

Some 245 fourth-through-ninth-graders participated in the National Spelling Bee in Washington. Here are some of the tough words - with Webster's definitions added - that knocked 129 students out of the first round.

crambo: cabbage repeatedly served

ginglymus: a hinge joint allowing motion in one plane only

grissino: a long, slender, crusty bread stick

hebetude: the condition of being dull and lethargic

lacteal: of or like milk, milky

lapideous: stony

mucilaginous: slimy, sticky

myrmecologist: one who studies the science of ants

polyphagism: feeding on a variety of plants or animals

ratiocinate: to reckon, deliberate, consider

thesmothete: one who lays down

xylophagous: eating, boring into, or destroying wood

- Associated Press

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