News In Brief

The US

The US Supreme Court upheld a Georgia congressional-redistricting plan that includes just one majority-black district. In the latest blow to efforts to maximize the voting clout of racial and ethnic minorities, the justices ruled 5 to 4 that the redistricting map drawn by a three-judge federal court is valid. Also, the court ruled in favor of the US government in an 18-year dispute with Alaska over ownership of environmentally sensitive lands rich in oil off the state's Arctic coast. It said the US, not the state, owns submerged lands that are key parts of the National Petroleum Reserve and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The 400,000-member Reformed Church in America overwhelmingly urged "full communion" with the 5.2-million- member Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, allowing joint congregations, minister exchanges, and shared sacraments for the first time since the 16th century. It was the first step toward unifying four Protestant denominations after a 450-year rift. The Evangelical Lutheran Church, the 1.5-million-member United Church of Christ, and the 2.7-million-member Presbyterian Church USA will vote on the unity plan this summer.

President Clinton flew to Denver for the annual summit of the world's leading economic powers, which this year will include Russian President Boris Yeltsin in all but one of its sessions. The so-called G-7 conclave begins today with a reception at Colorado Gov. Roy Romer's mansion.

More than 2,400 scientists urged the president to take actions to reduce the manmade pollution warming the earth. Their statement called on the administration to endorse "early domestic action to reduce US emissions via the most cost-effective means."

Vermont bucked a US Supreme Court ruling by enacting a campaign-finance reform that caps the amount of money candidates can spend and finances their campaigns with a tax on lobbyists. Democratic Gov. Howard Dean signed the bill, which some call a model for Congress. It seems certain to face legal challenges, because in1976 the Supreme Court ruled that limits on campaign spending violate free-speech guarantees.

Convicted assassin Sirhan Sirhan stunned a parole-board hearing by saying he now believes he did not kill Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. For some 29 years, Sirhan had said he could not remember shooting Kennedy in 1968. In denying him parole for the 10th time, the parole board made no comment on Sirhan's claim of innocence.

The House Ways and Means Committee backed Clinton's China-trade policy after the White House signaled its willingness to press China on human rights in other ways. Among proposals that were reportedly discussed: increasing to 24 hours a day US-supported radio broadcasts across China, giving more aid to human rights groups, and penalizing US businesses that have ties to China's armed forces.

The US foreign-trade deficit, swelled 7.8 percent in April, the Commerce Department said. Record exports had shrunk the deficit to a four-month low in the month of March, but imports in April reached a record high for clothing, toys, and pharmaceuticals.

The Clerk of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court informed The First Church of Christ, Scientist, that it had won a case brought by two members against current and former church officials. The case involves a dispute about church government. In a statement issued before the full decision had been reviewed, Mother Church general counsel Gary Jones said: "Our initial response is one of gratitude for the result and especially for the thoughts and prayers of so many of our church members and of other people of faith who stand for and cherish religious freedom." The suit was filed in December 1993 by Elizabeth Weaver of Glen Arbor, Mich., and Roy Varner of Houston against 13 current and former church officers. The Monitor will have further coverage of the decision in Monday's Monitor.

The World

President Suleyman Demirel delayed in naming Turkey's new prime minister while he consulted with senior political leaders. Necmettin Erbakan handed his resignation to Demirel to appease the country's military commanders, who were unhappy with his Islamic fundamentalist sympathies. Leaders of the two main opposition parties are bitter rivals and neither has enough votes in parliament to win support for a new government.

Britain's governor for Hong Kong made his final appearance before the colony's elected legislature. Chris Patten said his greatest regret was the failure to convince China that it need not fear Hong Kong's democratic reforms. The legislature will be replaced by a hand-picked council within hours after China assumes control July 1.

Confusion reigned in Cambodia over the fate of Pol Pot after one of the country's two co-premiers denied earlier reports that the notorious Khmer Rouge leader had given himself up to pursuers who would hold him for trial before an international tribunal. Prince Norodom Rana-riddh contradicted the Army's deputy chief of staff, who had said he personally confirmed the surrender. Pol Pot has not been seen by outsiders since 1979.

Israel's popular finance minister quit after Prime Minister Netanyahu failed to support him on key economic issues before the Knesset. Dan Meridor's resignation was the latest in a series of internal crises over Netanyahu's leadership. Earlier, Trade Minister Natan Sharansky boycotted a Cabinet meeting over the choice of a new ambassador to Russia. Opposition parties quickly called for a no-confidence vote and new national elections. The no-confidence vote was expected early next week. Elections are not due until 2000.

Fast-food giant McDonald's must decide whether to demand payment of $118,000 in damages awarded by a British court in a suit against two penniless defendants. An unemployed postal worker and a part-time tavern employee were found guilty of libel in a 1984 pamphlet that accused the company of promoting an unhealthy diet and abusing animals, the environment, and its employees. The so-called "David vs. Goliath" trial was the longest in British history and included testimony from 180 witnesses. McDonald's reportedly spent $16 million on its defense.

Britain's opposition Conservative Party made William Hague its youngest leader in 200 years. The not-yet-40 former secretary for Wales defeated ex-Treasury Secretary Kenneth Clarke to succeed John Major, who stepped down after the party's landslide defeat in national elections last month. Hague has proposed delaying Britain's entry into a single European currency plan for 10 years. Clarke was a leading advocate of British integration into the European Union.

Mexico's Foreign Ministry called the execution by Texas of Irineo Tristan Montoya "regrettable, cruel, and inhuman." Montoya was put to death for the 1985 murder of a US motorist who had given him a ride near the border. Also protesting were hundreds of demonstrators at the Matamoros/Brownsville border crossing, Mexico's Catholic Church, and commentators on the Televisa network. Mexico has no death penalty for civilians.

Torrential rain in northwestern Somalia uncovered a mass grave for hundreds of people killed by forces loyal to former military president Siad Barre, a newspaper reported. It said the victims were among an estimated 2,000 people selected for execution at a time when rival clans were disputing Siad Barre's leadership. The region declared itself independent, his troops ultimately were defeated, and he fled into exile in 1991.

Etceteras

"I believe I'm innocent of this crime and that I did not commit this crime."

- Convicted assassin Sirhan Sirhan, who had said for 29 years he couldn't remember shooting Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, at a hearing where he was denied parole.

The world's fastest airplane took an uncommonly long time to complete a trip across eastern Nebraska this week. But then the SR-71 Blackbird - which once flew from New York to London in 1 hour and 55 minutes, averaging more than 1,800 m.p.h. - was traveling from Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha to the new Strategic Air Command Museum 36 miles away . . . by highway. It and other planes destined for display in the $29.5 million facility were towed there by trucks.

Kentucky State Police didn't have to go far to nab their suspect in a drug bust. A repeat offender performing community service for the Boyd County Parks Department was tending a plot of marijuana plants 150 yards from their station in Ashland when the cops arrived.

The Day's List

What a Baptist Boycott Of Disney Would Affect

The Southern Baptist Convention voted this week to boycott the Walt Disney Company because church leaders see it as going too far to accommodate homosexuals. The following are among the vast holdings of the company (exclusive of individual TV shows, such as "Ellen" and "Home Improvement" and the play "Beauty and the Beast"):

Disneyland, Anaheim, Calif.

Walt Disney World Resort (Disney World), Orlando, Fla.

The Disney Store (530 outlets as of Sept. 30, 1996)

Walt Disney Pictures

Touchstone Pictures

Hollywood Pictures

Caravan Pictures

Miramax

Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, a National Hockey League franchise

Anaheim Angels baseball team (general partner)

Hollywood Records

Discover magazine

ABC TV and radio networks

The Disney Channel

ESPN (80 percent interest)

A&E Television Networks (37.5 percent interest)

Lifetime Television's parent company (50 percent interest)

- Associated Press

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