News In Brief

The US

Senate hearings on campaign-finance abuses entered their second day with former Democratic Party finance director Richard Sullivan back in the witness seat. Prospects that the senators will hear from John Huang, the former fund-raiser at the heart of much of the controversy, dimmed when Attorney General Janet Reno said she was opposed to granting him immunity.

The economy's strong performance has lifted President Clinton's job-approval rating to a record 64 percent, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll. It was the first time since the president's second month in office that his approval rating exceeded 60 percent in the poll. It was reported at 56 percent last month. Two-thirds of respondents said they think Congress is unlikely to reform campaign-finance laws.

The TV industry agreed in principle to revamp its program-ratings system, key lawmakers reported. By Oct. 1, they said, viewers can expect to see the letters "V," "S," "L" and "D" alongside the six-month-old ratings that now flash in the upper-left corner of TV screens at the beginning of programs. The letters stand for violence, sex, potentially offensive language, and dialog with sexual innuendo. ABC, CBS, and Fox are part of the accord, along with major cable networks. NBC is not.

The House Rules Committee blocked a bid to increase next year's National Endowment for the Arts appropriation from $10 million to $99.5 million. Instead, it agreed to allow a full-House vote on a proposal that would eliminate the NEA and disperse $80 million to state education departments and arts councils.

The Senate apparently blocked any chance that more military bases will be shut down over the next four years, overwhelmingly rejecting one of Clinton's top defense priorities. A bid for two rounds of base closings in 1999 and 2001 lost on a 66-to-33 roll-call vote.

FBI investigators said they had reopened an investigation into the 1963 bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala. Four young black girls were killed and 14 other people were injured in the attack. A Ku Klux Klansman was convicted in the case in 1977, but authorities said at least three other people may have been involved. The FBI denied the new inquiry was sparked by last month's release of a documentary on the bombing by moviemaker Spike Lee.

Jurors were selected in Miami for what could be a landmark trial in which flight attendants are seeking $5 billion in damages from the tobacco industry for illnesses they say are related to second-hand smoke. Plaintiffs estimate as many as 60,000 attendants could benefit from any award. Opening statements are expected to begin Monday.

Congressional auditors criticized the US Civil Rights Commission, saying it lacks fiscal accountability, has misplaced or lost important records, and is seldom able to complete projects on schedule. Two of the agency's four commissioners rejected the report as misleading.

Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson was banned from boxing and fined $3 million by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, drawing the maximum penalty for biting Evander Holyfield's ears during a June 28 bout in Las Vegas. Tyson can apply for reinstatement in a year, but his punishment could be extended indefinitely.

Searchers found no trace of four 500-pound bombs at the Colorado crash site of an Air Force A-10 attack jet. In three days of searching, they have located bits of ammunition, plane parts, and the remains of Capt. Craig Button, whose jet slammed into a mountainside in April and was discovered after an 18-day search.

ValuJet said it would buy AirTran Airways and drop the ValuJet name. Valujet's public image has suffered since a May 1996 crash in the Florida Everglades. The purchase will be accomplished through a stock swap valued at $61.8 million. Together, ValuJet and AirWays Corp., the AirTrans parent company, would have 2,742 employees serving 46 cities.

The World

NATO troops, in their first move against indicted war-crimes suspects, arrested two Bosnian Serbs - one of whom was killed in the process. They were hospital administrator Mico Kovacevic and former police chief Simo Drljaca, both of Prijedor in northeastern Bosnia. Kovacevic was to be handed over to the UN war-crimes tribunal in The Hague. Drljaca died resisting arrest. Former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic was not a target of the mission. US troops did not participate in it.

Poland celebrated President Clinton's arrival by rolling out the red carpet. The welcoming ceremony followed by two days NATO's invitation for Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic to join the alliance in 1999. Clinton was expected to tell Polish leaders they would have to pay their fair share for the security offered by NATO membership. Analysts said the invitation symbolized a final step away from Russian control and a boost to the Polish economy.

The pace of foreigners fleeing the political strife in Cambodia quickened as concerns for their safety grew. Co-Premier Hun Sen denied that last weekend's fighting, won by his forces, was a coup and said his rival, Norodom Ranariddh, could return from exile but would face trial if he did. In Malaysia, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations postponed Cambodia's admission to membership and said it still recognized Ranariddh as co-premier.

Prominent North Korean defector Hwang Jang Yop said his former country is fully prepared for war against South Korea. He told a nationally televised news conference in Seoul that Pyong-yang's military facilities are hidden in tunnels. South Korean officials said Hwang told them the North has plans for a surprise attack on Seoul with the hope of occupying South Korea within a week.

Protestant Orange Order spokesmen said they wanted Saturday's planned marches in Northern Ireland to pass peacefully but were "fearful of what might happen." Plans for the parades through Catholic neighborhoods in Belfast and London- derry proceeded despite calls for bans or cancellation. Catholic leaders urged their followers to prevent the marches, but without rioting. In London, the British government said it was sending up to 500 more troops to the province to "combat terrorism."

An estimated 80,000 Britons converged on London to defend their right to hunt with the hounds - a tradition that the new Labour government proposes to ban. Rural villagers, gamekeepers, saddlemakers, and wealthy landowners accused the government of attempting to promote class enmity and said they believed a ban soon would be extended to include sport fishing. Advocates of the ban say hunting with hounds is cruel to foxes.

History textbooks in Hong Kong may mention the 1989 Tiananmen Square "incident" but in neutral terms, new chief executive Tung Chee Hwa's office said. An aide declined to indicate whether books could use "massacre" to describe the military attack that ended China's open pro-democracy campaign. The June 4 attack has been commemorated in Hong Kong every year since it happened.

A special sales tax and price controls may be imposed to help Czech residents flooded out of their homes by five days of hard rain, President Vaclav Havel said. One-third of the country was under water, at least 17 people died in the flooding, and thousands of others had to be evacuated. Charities asked for donations of food, drinking water, clothing, and blankets. In Poland, farmers were told to rely on insurance to compensate for their losses because the government lacked the resources to help. The rains did less serious damage to Slovakia and Austria.

Etceteras

"There is no place for government involvement in what people watch on television."

- From an NBC statement on why the network did not join an accord to expand the rating system for TV programs.

Skippy the Turtle's ice cream truck is welcome in Hamilton, N.Y., again after a deal with the village council. Under a new ordinance, Skippy's owners could have been jailed for playing such amplified classics as "Home on the Range" over and over again to attract custom-ers. But a ban caused such a public outcry that both sides compromised. One trip a day, softer music while in motion, and none when stopped, and Skippy the Turtle may crawl through Hamilton until ice-cream weather passes.

It's not exactly a return to the days of the Wild West in Fort Collins, Colo., but vigilantes with guns are going after law violators. Well, OK, they're only radar guns, borrowed from the city traffic department under a program to help enforce local speed limits. Volunteers clock offenders and report their license numbers. Each speed-er then gets a letter of warning in the mail.

You know the old expression: It's raining cats and dogs? During a storm last Saturday night motorists in Villa Angel Flores on Mexico's Pacific coast saw something else from the animal kingdom falling from the skies. It seems a small tornado swept hundreds of toads from a nearby pond, whirled them over the town, and dumped them there.

The Day's List

Rating Investment Risk In 10 Emerging Markets

Among the world's 10 largest emerging markets, Argentina poses the least risk to investors, according to a new study by DRI/McGraw Hill, a prominent economic forecasting and consulting firm. After analyzing more than 50 variables affecting risk, it ranked these markets in increasing order of risk:

1. Argentina

2. Poland

3. Mexico

4. Turkey

5. India

6 Brazil

7. Russia

8. Indonesia

9. China

10. South Africa

- Associated Press

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