News In Brief

The US

In an apparent bid to define his presidency, President Clinton opened a campaign to breach the nation's racial divide. Addressing graduates at the University of California, San Diego, he called creating a truly multiracial democracy the "unfinished work of our times," and said California's drive to end affirmative action would have "devastating" effects.

A dozen white lawmakers called for a congressional apology to black Americans whose ancestors were slaves. House Speaker Newt Gingrich derided the suggestion, which came in advance of Clinton's speech, calling it "emotional symbolism." Rep. Maxine Waters (D) of California, head of the Congressional Black Caucus, praised the proposal.

A unanimous jury gave Timothy McVeigh the death penalty for the Oklahoma City bombing, capping a landmark trial that followed the devastating April 19, 1995, attack on the Murrah federal building. Appeals were expected. Jurors said they were struck by McVeigh's apparent lack of remorse.

An ebullient stock market bounded to its sixth straight day of record highs Friday after a report on producer prices reinforced confidence that inflation remained under control.

Congress passed and the president signed an $8.9 billion disaster-relief bill that will aid 30 states affected by recent storms. The action was seen as a defeat for GOP lawmakers who tried last week to force Clinton to approve two unrelated measures attached to an earlier version of the bill. Instead, he vetoed it.

The House passed a proposed constitutional amendment to ban desecration of the flag. The vote on the measure was 310 to 114. Its prospects in the Senate were uncertain. Similar proposals have twice failed to gain congressional approval.

Arkansas Sen. Dale Bumpers said he would not seek reelection next year. The four-term Democrat cited frustration with the GOP-controlled Congress, saying some members are fanatic about amending the Constitution. He is the third Democratic senator to announce retirement next year. The others are Ohio's John Glenn and Kentucky's Wendell Ford.

Most Americans think tobacco companies lied about smoking risks and about half believe they should not be given immunity from future legal claims, a new poll indicated. As talks that might reach a settlement on claims continued between state and tobacco-industry officials, a survey conducted for Business Week magazine had 49 percent of respondents saying cigarette makers shouldn't get immunity and 45 percent saying they should.

The NAACP said it would lead a boycott against three major hotel chains that failed to respond to a survey on the hiring and promoting of blacks. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People survey was used to rank 15 hotel chains as a guide for black organizations and consumers. The chains to be targeted by a boycott this summer are Holiday Inn, Westin, and Best Western.

A near-record winter snowpack produced flood waters in seven Idaho counties declared disaster areas by state officials. Nearby counties braced for flooding. Hundreds of people in and around Roberts, along the swollen Snake River, were evacuated. Five feet of water covered portions of the town.

General Motors and the United Auto Workers continued talks aimed at averting walkouts in Michigan and Wisconsin. Workers at a metal-fabrication plant in Grand Rapids, Mich., and workers at a catalytic-converter plant in Oak Creek, Wis., extended strike deadlines that passed late last week. Issues included worker health and safety, as well as job security.

A Coast Guard officer was found guilty of rape, assault, and other offenses aboard a cutter based in Mobile, Ala. The penalty phase of the trial of Petty Officer 2nd Class Darrell Stirewalt of Clemson, S.C., begins today.

The World

By a 4-to-1 vote, Israel's Supreme Court rejected an appeal to charge Prime Minister Netanyahu with fraud. The justices turned down an opposition Labor Party request to overrule prosecutors who decided in April that Netanyahu and two others should not be indicted in a government influence-peddling scandal involving the appointment of a new attorney general. Police had recommended the indictment. Netanyahu issued a statement calling the court's ruling "a victory for justice."

Palestinian police reportedly did not intervene to stop street clashes between demonstrators and Israeli troops in the volatile West Bank city of Hebron. Day 2 of the violence brought at least four casualties - three of them Palestinians hit by rubber bullets. Demonstrators said they were angry at the US Congress for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Heavy fighting erupted in Brazzaville as French troops prepared to pull out of the troubled Congo Republic. Only about 100 people waited for the last evacuation flights from the city, hoping to join more than 5,500 flown to safety earlier. French sources said they could not be certain that their departure was causing a battle for the strategic airport, but heavy weapons could be seen rolling toward it as rival government and militia forces broke the cease-fire announced last week.

The only uncertainty in Croatia's national election was how large a margin of victory President Franjo Tudjman would end up with, analysts said. Despite widespread poverty, a 17 percent unemployment rate, blunt international criticism of his record, and promises of greater democracy by his two opponents, final polls suggested that Tudjman would get more than 50 percent of the vote.

Resentment of international criticism appears to be driving down public support for Switzerland's proposed fund to aid victims of the Holocaust and other disasters, a new survey found. Results published in a Zurich newspaper showed only 48 percent of respondents now favor the government's plan to capitalize the fund by selling gold reserves. In March, when the plan was announced, 58 percent said they supported it. The plan requires a change in the Constitution that must be approved in a referendum next year.

Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot may have surrounded himself with hundreds of loyal guerrillas in Cambodia's northern jungle, reports said. They appeared to dispute word late last week that the man held responsible for the deaths of more than 1 million Cambodians in the late 1970s was en route to a country that had offered asylum. In the capital, Phnom Penh, however, Copremier Norodom Ranariddh said infighting in Khmer Rouge ranks meant that the deeply divided Maoist group had reached "the veritable end."

No evidence was found in Angola that government troops had killed dozens of people in a new offensive against areas still held by the former UNITA rebels, a Portuguese news agency report-ed. It said UN inspectors had toured northeastern Angola but could not substantiate UNITA claims that dozens of people had died and thousands of others fled their homes. President Jose Eduardo dos Santos said he would meet former UNITA chief Jonas Savimbi to discuss the matter, but only in the capital, Luanda. Savimbi has refused to go there, saying he fears for his safety.

No clear pattern emerged in elections intended as the first step toward restructuring the political system in Morocco. Opposition leftists, independents, and the conservative majority each had won about one-third of the seats in municipal contests, as vote-counting wound down. Successful candidates are supposed to choose among themselves for the makeup of a newly established upper house of parliament later this year.

Etceteras

"We have torn down the barriers in our laws. Now we must break down the barriers in our lives, our minds, and our hearts."

- President Clinton, in appealing for a nationwide effort to achieve racial reconciliation.

A couple in Malaysia should have known they were courting trouble when police arrested them on 2,372 counts of check forgery. When their arraignment came, all other cases had to be postponed because the session lasted seven hours. The charges were read individually, as were the pleas. Each had to be translated twice because the defendants are Chinese and the hearing was conducted in Malay.

Trouble, too, for a Chattanooga, Tenn., man who didn't exactly use his work-release time from jail for work. He was caught when a judge checked the scores in a charity golf tournament and saw the inmate's name listed five strokes behind the leader. The teed-off jurist revoked the privilege and then found that the same thing had happened twice before.

Call them to-MAY-toes or to-MAH-toes, but there's been a run on the red fruit at grocery stores in Huddersfield, England, lately. This, after a local Muslim bought one, cut it open, and found that the veins spelled out messages in Arabic. One read: "There is only one God." The other: "Muham-mad is the messenger." The story spread quickly through the Muslim community.

The Day's List

Best Places to Live in US

An annual ranking of the best places to live in the US has three cities in New Hampshire in the top six - and six in Florida in the top 15. Here are the leaders, as chosen by Money magazine, with their 1996 rankings in parentheses:

1. Nashua, N.H. (42)

2. Rochester, Minn. (3)

3. Monmouth/Ocean Counties, N.J. (38)

4. Punta Gorda, Fla. (2)

5. Portsmouth, N.H. (44)

6. Manchester, N.H. (50)

7. Madison, Wis. (1)

8. San Jose, Calif. (19)

9. Jacksonville, Fla. (20)

10. Fort Walton Beach, Fla. (18)

11. Seattle (9)

12. Gainesville, Fla. (7)

13. San Francisco (13)

14. Lakeland, Fla. (10)

15. Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (4)

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