News In Brief

The US

The search for a new nominee to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff widened after Air Force Gen. Joseph Ralston took himself out of the running. After meeting with key members of Congress, he told Defense Secretary William Cohen he would rather drop out than fight for the post in the face of powerful opposition. Ralston will remain as vice chairman.

House Republicans proposed the first major tax cuts for Americans since 1981 - $85 billion over five years. But the measure, part of the package aimed at balancing the federal budget by 2002, ran into strong opposition from the White House and Democrats in Congress.

Republicans "will work quickly" to send President Clinton a new disaster-relief bill, their leadership said. Clinton vetoed an $8.6 billion measure because he didn't like two unrelated riders attached to it. But the GOP leaders didn't say whether they were willing to meet his conditions for signing a replacement bill.

Deeply in debt and rocked by fund-raising scandals, the Democratic Party will ask its most loyal supporters to donate or raise $250,000 each over the next two years, officials said. They said the appeal would come from Clinton tonight at a private dinner in Washington.

Clinton was to cite improved science and math scores among fourth-graders last year in a renewed push for national educational testing standards. But in New York City, tests showed that fewer than half of public school third-graders read at grade level, The New York Times reported.

Jury selection was to begin for the assisted-suicide trial of Dr. Jack Kevorkian in Ionia, Mich. Analysts say the case against him is complicated by two factors: No autopsy was performed, and the deceased was cremated. In Oregon, the nation's first voter-approved euthanasia law was sent back for reconsideration after the Senate declined to make technical changes, citing new medical advances in treating chronic pain.

Unabomber suspect Ted Kaczynski kept a step-by-step account of his alleged attempts to build explosive devices over an 18-year period, prosecutors said. They sought permission in federal court in Sacramento, Calif., to introduce evidence linking him to all 16 Unabomber incidents, although he is charged with only five of them.

More than 1 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy last year - nearly two-thirds of them because of credit-card debt, a CNN/USA Today survey found. Many of those affected blamed credit card companies for making it too easy to fall into debt, the poll said.

Foreign acquisitions of US companies reached an all-time high last year, the Commerce Department reported. It said overseas investors spent $80.5 billion - a 41 percent increase over the 1995 level of $57.2 billion. Britain led the list of investors.

"It would not be appropriate" for Secretary of State Albright to attend the swearing-in of Hong Kong's new Beijing-appointed legislature when the colony reverts to Chinese government control July 1, her office announced. She has received no invitation, the announcement said, but would decline it if offered to show support for the democratically elected body now in place. She is scheduled to be in Hong Kong for the handover.

Proposed rules aimed at preventing cargo fires aboard airplanes were to be published in the Federal Register. They would require cargo compartments to be fitted with detectors and extinguishers by 2001. The move was prompted by last year's ValuJet crash in Florida, apparently caused by oxygen generators that fed such a fire. The requirements would affect about 3,000 planes, and compliance would cost an estimated $300 million.

An Associated Press report cited in the June 6 Monitor concerning new duties for the Army's Southern Command was in error. It said US troops would guard rain forests and endangered species in Caribbean and Latin American countries. It should have said the Southern Command would train soldiers from those countries for such duties.

The World

France rescued more foreigners from Brazzaville, the hard-hit capital of the Congo Republic, as fighting raged for a sixth day between the Army and soldiers loyal to a former dictator. Officials said French President Jacques Chirac had secured an agreement with President Pascal Lissouba and rebel Gen. Denis Sassou-Nguesso to hold truce talks, but no date was set. France and the United States have rescued more than 900 foreigners, and France hoped to airlift 500 more out yesterday.

About 500 Tamil Tiger rebels overran Sri Lankan lines destroying an ammunition store and a bridge, Sri Lanka's military said. At least 34 rebels and seven Army troops were killed. Reports were impossible to verify because journalists have been banned from the area. The rebels have been battling for an independent state for minority Tamils since 1983.

Hong Kong's Democratic Party sued to challenge the constitutional legality of China's hand-picked shadow legislature, which will replace a democratically elected assembly after the June 30 handover of the British colony. Legal experts said the move had little chance of success.

Thousands of illegal immigrants could become legal residents of France. The newly elected government is reversing the policy of the former conservative one, the daily Le Monde reported, and will soon announce its plan to review illegal immigrants' status on a case-by-case basis. Le Monde estimates that between 20,000 and 40,000 people could be granted legal status.

France threw a bit of a monkey wrench into plans for a single European currency. Paris asked for time to study an already agreed-upon pact to keep budget deficits tight after the euro is launched, casting doubt on the single-currency plan.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais defended his government's economic record and urged parliament to pass spending cuts and a new tax code. The cuts are seen as imperative to bring order to the country's finances. Also, the upper house defied President Yeltsin. It voted to send him back a bill he refused to sign giving Russia ownership over works of art seized from Germany during World War II. Germany, Russia's largest trading partner, wants the art returned, but many Russians say it should serve as compensation for the more than 27 million Russians who died in the war.

Three African countries asked for the ban on ivory trading to be lifted. Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe say they have too many elephants and too little land to support them. They are asking the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to downgrade the elephant from its most-endangered list, allowing them to sell combined stockpiles of more than 150 tons of ivory. The proposal is opposed by conservation groups and the West. About 3,000 people from 138 countries are attending the 12-day CITES conference in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Haiti's prime minister resigned. Rosny Smarth left office in the wake of criticism about economic policies and an election scandal. Smarth supported an internationally backed austerity plan opposed by former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, whose party won big in first-round voting that many observers say was rigged. Before resigning, Smarth urged that runoff elections, set for Sunday, be called off.

Rwandan soldiers were reportedly rounding up villagers and corralling them in a soccer stadium while they searched for Hutu rebels. A diplomat said the roundups occurred on three occasions in northwestern villages. Hundreds of people in the northwest reportedly have been killed during attacks by Hutu rebels and Army counterattacks.


"This is solely my decision, and I make it with a sense of regret."

- Air Force Gen. Joseph Ralston, on taking himself out of the running to be the next Joint Chiefs chairman after admitting to an adulterous affair in the 1980s.

What high school senior hasn't wanted a car as a graduation present? Eric Simard got one, all right, but not from mom and dad or rich Uncle Joe. Along with his diploma he picked up the keys to a Plymouth Sundance at commencement services. It was his reward from Pathfinder Regional Vocational-Technical School in Palmer, Mass., for being valedictorian. The 1992 vehicle had been rebuilt by the school's auto-repair classes.

Mark Malta could still hear purring under the hood after switching off the engine of his car 40 miles from home. The Detroit resident opened it and found a kitten that had come along for the ride - apparently after crawling up through one of the wheel wells. It had some scorched fur under the chin but was otherwise none the worse for wear. No word on whether it was invited inside the car for the return trip.

Interest in Cuba's latest fashion trend seems to be - well - flagging. So many young people wear the Stars and Stripes on T-shirts, caps, and other garments sent by relatives in the US that the Communist Party is trying to stamp out the practice. The party calls it "mental colonization" that calls for "a conscious strategy of cultural resistance."

The Day's List

'Lost World' Loses Top Spot at the Box Office

After two consecutive weeks at the top of the box office charts, "The Lost World" has been displaced by the newly released "Con Air," starring Nicholas Cage and John Malkovich. The top-grossing films for the weekend of June 6-8 and their revenues (in millions):

1. "Con Air" $24.1

2. "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" 18.6

3. "Addicted to Love" 3.6

4. "Buddy" 3.5

.5. "Gone Fishin'" 3

6. "Trial and Error" 2.6

7. "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" 2.4

8. "The Fifth Element" 2.1

9. "Breakdown" 1.8

10. "Liar,Liar" 1.2

- Exhibitor Relations/AP

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