News In Brief

The US

Former Republican National Committee chairman Haley Barbour was the focus of Senate hearings into campaign fund-raising abuses. An attorney for Hong Kong businessman Ambrose Young testified that in 1994 Barbour persuaded Young to grant a $2.1 million loan guarantee to a GOP think tank. Barbour has denied knowing the funds were from Hong Kong. The Senators decided to grant limited immunity to four Buddhist nuns to gain their testimony about a fund-raiser attended by Vice President Al Gore.

President Clinton offered to call potential contributors in an effort to raise $1 million for the Democratic National Committee early last year, The New York Times reported. The article cited a White House memo that indicates Clinton personally requested a list of contributors for him to call.

The Clinton administration has asked China about the whereabouts of Charlie Trie, officials said. The White House had said three weeks ago it would not ask Beijing for help in locating Trie, even though the Senate fund-raising panel had asked for help in securing his testimony about some foreign funds that were made available to the Democratic Party.

Some top deputies to House Speaker Newt Gingrich apologized for recent mistakes during an emotional three-hour meeting of House Republicans. Majority whip Tom DeLay of Texas, reportedly admitted telling a group of GOP dissidents he would take their side in trying to oust the Speaker, citing physical exhaustion as one reason he went overboard in empathizing with complaints. (Related story, Page 3.)

The US and Canada agreed to appoint prominent special envoys to untangle a bitter dispute among fishermen over rights to catch Pacific salmon. Meanwhile, the US Senate voted to condemn Canada for failing over the weekend to bring a swift end to the blockade of a US ferry by angry British Columbia fishermen. US-Canadian talks to settle salmon-fishing rights broke down in May.

Clinton nominated Massachusetts Gov. William Weld to be US ambassador to Mexico, despite opposition from Sen. Jesse Helms (R) of North Carolina, chairman of the Senate's foreign-relations committee. Helms is a conservative Republican and Weld comes from the more moderate wing of the party. (Editorial, Page 20.)

Power problems on space station Mir could keep US astronaut Wendy Lawrence from taking a turn on the troubled Rus-sian craft, Clinton's top science adviser reported. Whether she goes could be decided any time before the scheduled Sept. 17 launch of the space shuttle set to take Lawrence to Mir, said Jack Gibbons, White House assistant for science and technology. Mir's electricity supply was cut drastically in a June 25 accident.

An Ohio program that pays teenaged parents to stay in school makes it more likely they will get off welfare, but does not raise graduation rates, a study said. The program provides $62-a-month stipends to teen-aged parents on welfare when they attend school, reducing benefits if attendance falls off. It was more effective at helping those in school than those induced to return to school, the report from the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation said. (Related story, Page 1.)

The number of Americans claiming first-time jobless benefits fell last week to the lowest level in nearly a year, the government reported. Weekly jobless claims fell to 299,000 in the week ended July 19 from a revised 341,000 the week before. That was far below the 333,000-level economists had forecast.

Irish President Mary Robinson dedicated a memorial in Cambridge, Mass., to the great Irish famine that claimed more than a million lives a century and a half ago. The statue was funded by "both Irish and non-Irish - the honorary Irish" in Cambridge - said John O'Connor, cofounder of the Irish Famine Committee that raised funds for the memorial..

An auto plant in Flint, Mich., became the first General Motors facility to close as the result of a strike at a crucial parts factory in Warren, Mich.

The World

Cambodian coup leader Hun Sen appeared to reverse course, saying he now could accept the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as a mediator in his country's violent political dispute. He spoke one day after ASEAN excluded Cambodia from membership ceremonies. Diplomats said it was unclear whether Hun Sen's words were sincere or whether he would ever agree to ASEAN's main demand: the safe return home of his rival, ousted co-Premier Norodom Ranariddh.

One grenade exploded, but four others failed to detonate inside the home of a Cambodian Interior Ministry official, in what observers said could be the start of a terrorist campaign against Hun Sen's regime by allies of the ousted Ranariddh. No injuries were reported. The incident occurred as US envoy Stephen Solarz was due in Phnom Penh to meet with Hun Sen.

Syria's state-run media condemned new Israeli legislation on the Golan Heights as a "provocative act." The measure passed by the Knesset would require any Golan pullout to be approved by a special majority of 80 in the 120-member parliament. Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke in favor of the bill, but later said he wanted it revised to require a simple majority. Israeli-Syrian peace talks have been suspended for 1-1/2 years.

An opposition jet dropped a large bomb on a hotel in the center of Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, as at least 20 international aid workers evacuated the city. Forces led by a former Afghan military chief and an Uzbek commander are trying to oust the Taliban Army, which controls about two-thirds of the country. Meanwhile, the presidents of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakh-stan met to discuss the war. They are concerned about the possible spread of militant Taliban-type Islam into their countries.

Smoking in China kills half a million people a year and costs billions of dollars in health-related losses, the World Health Organization reported. The UN agency's Dr. Roderick Gee said more than than 300 million Chinese smoked cigarettes and that the number is increasing. China, the world's biggest tobacco market, restricts some cigarette advertising and bans smoking in public places, but Gee said greater efforts were needed to prevent future generations from taking up the habit.

Algerian security forces killed the leader of the Armed Islamic Group, supporters of the group said. Antar Zouabri and several of his followers, reportedly were trapped in an old Roman tunnel near Tipaza, 60 miles east of Algiers, the capital.. The Armed Islamic Group is the most violent faction involved in a five-year-old insurgency that has resulted in more than 60,000 deaths.

The political wing of ETA, Spain's Basque separatist group, won permission to hold an outdoor rally on Sunday. Herri Batasuna called for the march, in the city of San Sebastian, in response to the wave of national outrage over ETA's execution of a kidnapped politician earlier this month. But in giving its OK, the government of the Basque region said security at the march would be heavy due to concerns over another backlash. Approval for a rally last weekend was denied.

Hours before his new budget was to be presented to parliament, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe overhauled his government as demanded by aid donors. Eight ministries were eliminated or merged, and two controversial agency heads were given new duties. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund had pressed for reduced state spending, which critics say is used to fuel a patronage system. Meanwhile, Mugabe aides called an unkept appointment with a senior Japanese envoy a "misunderstanding." Japan, another key aid donor, planned a formal protest.

Etceteras

"It was wonderful. It was fabulous."

- Newt Gingrich, after a peacemaking meeting of House Republicans, some of whom had tried to strip him of the speakership.

Most citizens are called for jury duty by mail. But Los Angeles sheriff's deputies literally rounded up people from the street to help the judge in a child-support case. The jury pool had been exhausted, and a mistrial was imminent when his honor invoked a rarely used law allowing jurors to be summoned on the spot. Of the first 15 people approached by the deputies, 13 qualified as English-speaking US citizens with no felony convictions.

Elsewhere in California, the long-awaited test of fully automated cars began this week - and generated about as much enthusiasm as a flat tire would. Cameras, radar, and magnets keep the vehicles in their lanes and a safe distance from each other with no need to steer or feed gas. It may represent the future of commuting, but "drivers" said after the first 15 seconds "it gets really dull."

When John Holmes arriv-ed on the scene, the creature was hissing, snapping and generally menacing a mother and her children from the shade under their car. What was it that the animal-control officer was summoned to catch: a snake? a cat? maybe a coyote? No, a 20-inch alligator that looked very out of place in Pawtucket, R.I.

The Day'd List

Toys for Traveling Tots

Planning an extended car or plane trip with some relatively young children this summer? Here are some products - recommended by Dr. Stevanne Auerback, a San Francisco-based expert on child development - that should help keep them distracted when the going gets boring (with appropriate age group and manufacturer or publisher in parentheses):

Mini Calin in Suitcase (Corolle Dolls, 3-5) $50

Felt Kids (Learning Curve Toys, 3-8) $24.99

Busy Board (Do-A-Dot Art!, 6-12) $5.99

Tricky Triangles puzzle (DaMert, 6-12) $4

Felt mosaics (Alex, 7-10) $8

Rush Hour puzzle (Binary Arts, 8-12) $15

Trip Tracker (Rand McNally, 8-12) $16.95

- Reuters

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