News In Brief

The US

President Clinton forecast a drop in the federal deficit to $37 billion for the fiscal year that ends in September. Speaking at the White House, he also said the balanced-budget bill he signed earlier this week eventually would break the cycle of annual deficits and produce a $20 billion surplus by 2002. The president indicated he would use his new line-item veto to strike out portions of the measure he does not like. Clinton, who has until Monday to use the veto, planned to meet with his economic advisers to consider items for possible deletion.

Clinton called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netan-yahu to avoid steps that would undermine the Mideast peace process. Secretary of State Albright said she planned to travel to the region at the end of the month and urged Israel and the Palestinians to accelerate their timetable for a final settlement, originally due in the summer of 1999. Envoy Dennis Ross is due in the region as early as Saturday.

Negotiators agreed to a date, location, and ground rules for a Korean peace conference, South Korea's chief negotiator said. But he refused to give further details. A South Korean newspaper reported the conference would begin six weeks after the end of preliminary talks taking place in New York. Delegations from the US, China, and North and South Korea reportedly have yet to agree on the agenda for the peace talks.

Talks to end a strike against United Parcel Service were expected to resume in Washington. Management and union officials were to meet with a federal mediator to address issues ranging from pay and benefits to the company's use of nonunion workers. UPS, which normally delivers 12 million items a day, reportedly has lost 90 percent of its business since the strike began.

The shuttle Discovery was expected to lift off from Florida's Kennedy Space Center. During the 11-day mission, the crew will release a research satellite to study the Earth's ozone layer, point a telescope at the Hale-Bopp Comet, and test a robotic arm that would be used on NASA's future space station.

The arrest of 117 illegal aliens at a cardboard box plant near Cincinnati reflects a trend that such workers are moving from agricultural areas to big cities, immigration officials said. The immigrants, temporary employees from Accustaff Inc., were from Mexico and Guatemala, and made about $6 an hour at Chesapeake Display & Packaging Co. The Immigration and Naturalization Service said the workers would be sent to Philadelphia for deportation hearings.

Crews battled a half dozen wildfires in Southern California. The two largest blazes have blackened some 31,000 acres of the Los Padres National Forest. No homes were damaged in any of the fires, but the US Forest Service told the 500 residents of Piru they may have to evacuate. Meanwhile, 84 fires burned in largely uninhabited areas of Alaska. Fires there have scorched 1.8 million acres.

A San Francisco law firm settled an age-discrimination lawsuit filed by eight former employees, both sides said. Terms of the deal were not announced. The eight women, most of whom worked as secretaries, are all over 50 years old. They alleged Pillsbury Madison & Sutro gave them poor job performance reviews to force them to retire early. The firm said its actions were lawful, but was pleased the matter was finally settled.

Clinton nominated the chief lawyer of the Federal Communications Commission to head the agency. If confirmed, Bill Kennard would be the first black FCC chairman, replacing Reed Hundt.

Mother Church Upheld in Weaver Case

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has rejected a request by two members of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, to reconsider its unanimous decision in June to throw out a lawsuit asserting the right of members to sue church officers over disagreements on policy and finances.

The members, Elizabeth Weaver and Roy Varner, said the court had "radically departed" from legal precedent in its 7-to-0 decision June 19.

The state's highest court this week rejected their request for a rehearing without comment.

The action let stand the earlier decision that these members "have no enforceable legal interest in the administration" of the church and have "no standing" to pursue their claims in court.

The World

Palestinian Authority President Arafat kept up his stream of tough talk against Israel for its security measures in the wake of the July 31 suicide bombings in Jerusalem. He told the Yediot Ahranot newspaper that the crackdown could lead to "a giant explosion" of Palestinian anger that "no one will be able to stop." Meanwhile, Israel demolished two more Palestinian houses built without permits in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Taking with him new promises by Muslim and Croatian leaders to halt their ethnic rivalry in Bosnia, US special envoy Richard Holbrooke arrived in Sarajevo for a conference with the country's council of ministers. After talks with Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and Bosnian Muslim co-President Alija Izetbegovic, Holbrooke said Serbs "are without question the group that creates the most obstructions" to peace in the Balkans. He was expected to try to meet with Serb sub-state President Biljana Plavsic today.

A coalition of international donors will meet Monday in Tokyo to complete arrangements for a massive financial bailout of Thailand's struggling economy, knowledgeable sources said. The largest amounts in the aid package, considered likely to total as much as $20 billion, were to be provided by the International Monetary Fund and Japan's Export-Import Bank. Meanwhile, former Thai Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun called on his successor, Chavalit Yongchai-yudh, to resign and "allow others to solve the nation's problems."

Angry Sunni Muslims paraded in Lahore, Pakistan, in protest against attacks on two mosques that left 12 worshippers dead and more than 40 others hurt in the latest round of sectarian violence. The demonstrators, estimated to number at least 1,000, demanded better police protection and called for the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whom they accused of being unable to stop the violence. Meanwhile, police said they had arrested two Sunni militants believed responsible for killing 37 rival Shiite Muslims.

A nationwide strike called for today in Kenya was declared illegal by Labor Minister Philip Masinde, who said police would "ensure that the day passes as normal." A group known as the National Convention Executive Council asked Kenyans to march in support of the strike, to press President Daniel arap Moi for democratic reforms. A similar day of demonstrations July 7 resulted in nine deaths when police moved in. It was Kenya's worst political violence in this decade.

With five former Central American presidents on hand as guests, Guatemala commemorated the 10th anniversary of the summit conference that paved the way for peace across the region. The Esquipulas II accord was signed Aug. 7, 1987 - a time the host country, El Salvador, and Nicaragua were torn by civil wars between leftist guerrillas and right-wing governments. Honduras and Costa Rica were considered in danger of being drawn into those conflicts.

A cosmonaut repair team was scheduled to dock at the troubled Russian space station, Mir, to relieve its beleaguered crew. Anatoly Solovyov and Pavel Vinogradov were to attempt tricky fixes to Mir's oxygen generators and to the hull, which was badly damaged in a collision with an unmanned cargo craft in June.

Etceteras

"It's a wakeup call for the entire industry.... I can't say I'm going to walk away from them, but we will certainly look [for] backup plans."

- Cranston, R.I., jewelry executive Peter Howard, on what his company will do regardless of the outcome of the UPS strike.

Mayor B.J. Dildine of Barnsdall, Okla., doesn't want any stains on his reputation as a public servant just because of the United Parcel Service strike. All 1,300 of his constituents were awaiting delivery of a special cleaning agent the town is providing so they can wash out the spots in their clothes caused by rust in the water-delivery system. Dildine said he'd use his truck to pick up the soap himself if the shipper could get it to a place where it could be unloaded.

The pen, it is said, is mightier than the sword. But where does that leave the firearm? It seems Indonesia's state police have offered to give the country's crime reporters and editorial writers free target practice - to demonstrate the difficulty of shooting accurately at suspects who resist arrest. The offer stems from the criticism leveled at police for being poor marksmen.

And speaking of poor police work, did you hear about the traffic cop in France who served for 13 years without detection - despite the fact that he was an illegal alien? The gendarme, a citizen of Senegal in west Africa, was arrested after three of his countrymen - also illegal immigrants - turned him in. He had borrowed a friend's identity papers to get the job.

The Day's List

July Was a Hot Month For Automakers, Too

General Motors and Ford led a midsummer sales rebound by US automakers that has surprised even them. Industry analysts attributed the gains to an aggressive marketing push. Only Chrysler among the Big Three did not report an increase in overall sales for July, but the company did not offer a new round of buyer incentives. The month's figures in percentage terms for selected automakers in the US market:

General Motors + 6.7%

Ford + 5.1%

Chrysler - 9.3%

Honda + 31.8%

Toyota + 14.6%

Nissan - 6.9%

Mazda flat

Volvo + 2.8%

- Associated Press

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