News In Brief

The US

The Senate approved a $1 billion increase in foreign aid, including an amendment that would suspend aid to Russia if a measure to restrict religious freedom there becomes law. The bill, approved by Russia's lower house of Parliament, would recognize only the Orthodox Church and other traditional faiths such as Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism, while denying legal status to most newly established religious groups. The Senate bill also makes Russian aid dependent on Moscow halting development of nuclear facilities in Iran.

President Clinton was expected to unveil a plan to spend $350 million over five years to encourage teachers to work in low-income areas and to improve teacher training, a White House official said. Clinton was to make the proposal in a speech at the NAACP's annual convention in Pittsburgh. The money reportedly would be spent on grants to students who agree to teach in low-income areas and to exceptional teacher-training schools.

The president nominated Army Gen. Henry Shelton, a combat-tested commander, to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Clinton administration was expected to recommend that three permanent seats on the UN Security Council be allocated to developing countries. The US plan, which would also add Japan and Germany to the powerful council, would allow developing nations to decide how to fill their three seats. The size of the council has not changed since the 1960s.

Clinton waived for another six months parts of a law that toughens the US embargo against Cuba. The Cuban-exile community and Sen. Jesse Helms (R) of North Carolina, a co-author of the statute, expressed their dismay with the decision. It was the third time Clinton has suspended parts of the Helms-Burton law that would allow US citizens to sue foreign firms deemed to have profited from property confiscated after Cuba's 1959 revolution. The president cited the growing cooperation of US allies in pressuring Cuba toward democracy as the reason for his action.

General Motors and the United Auto Workers reached a tentative agreement to end a three-month strike in Pontiac, Mich. The union said the deal meets a key demand to increase staffing levels at the Pontiac East assembly plant. Some 5,800 workers will return to work Monday if the accord is ratified.

Clinton raised the possibility that the US may go to the World Trade Organization or impose sanctions on Europe if it blocks the Boeing-McDonnell Douglas merger. But he said a trade war could "probably" be avoided.

Woolworth Corp. said it is closing its 400 US "five and dime" stores, because of competition from bigger discounters. Some 9,200 workers will lose their jobs, officials said.

Canada - not Mexico - has cost the US a net loss of jobs because of changes in trade patterns since the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect three years ago, a new study indicated. Analysis by UCLA researchers found net US job losses to Canada and jobs threatened by trade with Canada totaling 39,117 since NAFTA took effect in 1994, while the changing trade flow with Mexico has produced a net 8,854 new US jobs.

The space shuttle Columbia touched down in Cape Canaveral, Fla., after completing a research mission cut short in April. The crew of seven returned with a bounty of laboratory experiments conducted in space on fire, metals, and plants.

Leo Gruliow, who passed on Sunday, was Moscow bureau chief of The Christian Science Monitor from 1972 to 1975. He was a journalist, translator, and lecturer who reported the Russian scene from Stalin's time to Gorbachev's. Mr. Gruliow was founder and editor emeritus of The Current Digest of the Soviet (now Post-Soviet) Press, published at Ohio State University. He was also author of the Time-Life book "Moscow" and translated Alexander Solzhenitsyn's "Cancer Ward" under the pseudonym Rebecca Frank.

The World

The crew of Mir was expected to restore electrical power to key systems after one of its members accidentally unplugged a vital cable, Russian space officials said. They said the two Russian cosmonauts and US astronaut Michael Foale were never in serious danger, had moved temporarily to Mir's attached escape capsule, and remained in communication with mission controllers on Earth.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan ran into immediate criticism in the US Senate for his long-sought plan to reform the organization. In a speech to the General Assembly, Annan described the proposed cuts in administrative costs and staff as "the most far-reaching" in UN history. But senators led by Rod Grams (R) of Minnesota called the plan "nothing more than the status quo." Congress has demanded an overhaul of the UN before agreeing to pay $870 million in US back dues.

Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein appealed to the UN to lift economic sanctions imposed after the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. In a nationally televised 2-1/2-hour speech, Saddam accused the Security Council of acting at the "whims" of the US. He also called for an Arab summit to consolidate support for Palestinians. Iraq has been kept out of major Arab gatherings since the Gulf war, and observers said the plea was likely to be ignored.

NATO officials were not ready to say whether four explosions outside a British peacekeeper base in Serb-held Bosnia were part of an apparent campaign of harassment. The blasts, in Banja Luka, caused no damage, and the people who set them off fled as soldiers fired warning shots. Four suspects were turned over to local police, as mandated by the Dayton peace accords. Similar incidents had occurred on three successive nights in Serb territory.

The political wing of Spain's Basque separatist group, ETA, pledged to abide by a court ruling on whether it may hold a public rally tomorrow. Herri Batasuna appealed a government ban on the rally in San Sebastian, which had been called as a counter demonstration to massive protest marches across Spain over ETA's execution of a kidnapped politician. The group said it would seek permission for a July 27 rally if its appeal was denied. In the Basque town of Durango, police arrested one man after an explosion in an ETA "safe house" filled with weapons.

The first low-caste Hindu in Indian history will serve as the country's next president, reports from New Delhi said. Kocheril Raman Narayanan was elected to the mostly ceremonial post by a landslide vote in Parliament. A former university professor and diplomat, he is to succeed President Shanker Dayal Sharma, who retires this month. Narayanan, from the class once known as "untouchables," has been vice-president since 1992.

The public approval rating for Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori sank lower, and his political problems grew with the resignations of two senior Cabinet members. Foreign Minister Francisco Tudela, one of 72 hostages held for months by leftist rebels in Lima, cited increasing concerns over Fujimori's authoritarian style. Government sources said Defense Minister Toms Castillo Meza quit over alleged rights abuses in the military. A leading poll measured Fujimori's popularity with Peruvians at just 23 percent - its lowest level in seven years.

Mali is to try again to hold national elections Sunday, amid uncertainty over whether there will be attempts to boycott or otherwise disrupt the voting. A court annulled the April 13 election for members of parliament due to widespread irregularities. Then, after voters returned President Alpha Konare to office for a second term May 11, his inauguration was disrupted by clashes between police and thousands of militants who claimed it should not have been held until the parliamentary-election problems were resolved.

Etceteras

"I know there are people in Washington who want to see a much stricter, much deeper cut .... These unilateral demands do not impress. They do not intimidate."

- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, defending his plan to reform the agency against critics in Congress.

The new musical "Always" - about King Edward VIII's romance with American divorce Wallis Warfield Simpson - opened before live audiences in London - and closed just six weeks later. Despite its subject matter, a big publicity buildup, and the $5 million it cost to stage, theater-goers mostly stayed away. Maybe that was because of the way critics reviewed it. Newspapers dub-bed the show both "Briefly" and "Never."

Restaurants whose menus list "fruits of the sea" may soon offer fresh lobster from the waters of North Dakota. That's not a misprint. A state biologist, exploring ways to help farmers diversify, has been raising 30 of the Australian red-claw variety in indoor tanks since April, and they're now reproducing. Eventually, he says, farmers willing to try acquaculture may be able to tap into the unceasing consumer demand for the tasty crustaceans.

Hoping that it too might cash in on the success of the re-released "Star Wars" trilogy, Parroty Interactive has issued "Star Warped," a send-up on CD-ROM of the "dork side" of the Force. Among its features: how memorable scenes might have been directed by Spike Lee, Jerry Seinfeld, or Woody Allen.

The Day's List

States Rated the Most - And Least - Dangerous

Crime statistics compiled by Morgan Quitno Press, an independent publishing company in Lawrence, Kan., indicate Nevada is the most- and North Dakota the least-dangerous of the US states. The top 10 rankings in each category, based on six basic crime types - murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and vehicle theft:

Most Least

1. Nevada North Dakota

2. Florida New Hampshire

3. Louisiana Maine

4. Maryland Vermont

5. California South Dakota

6. Arizona West Virginia

7. New Mexico Wyoming

8. Illinois Montana

9. Tennessee Iowa

10. Alaska Nebraska

- Reuters

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