News In Brief

The US

New elections for leadership of the Teamsters were ordered by a court-appointed election officer, who said $221,000 in illegal contributions were used in the reelection campaign of union president Ron Carey last year. Carey, who just concluded the Teamsters strike against UPS, received 51.71 percent of the ballots in last year's narrow victory over James Hoffa Jr., a labor lawyer and son of the legendary Teamsters leader. The election officer said she found no evidence directly linking Carey to wrongdoing. The Washington Post reported the Justice Department is investigating whether the Democratic National Committee improperly directed donations to Carey's campaign in return for union contributions to President Clinton's reelection campaign.

Paula Corbin Jones's sexual harassment lawsuit against Clinton can go forward, a US judge ruled, setting jury selection for May 27 in Little Rock, Ark. Rejecting attempts to have the case dismissed, US District Court Judge Susan Webber Wright did dismiss an allegation that Clinton had defamed Jones and a claim that the former state employee had been denied due process. But the central allegation of sexual harassment was allowed to stand in the civil lawsuit.

Clinton said he would ask Congress next month for "fast-track" authority to negotiate trade agreements. This means Congress would agree not to amend trade accords - but only to vote for or against them. Otherwise, Clinton said, it could take years to get approval of important new agreements. The administration has not had such authority since 1994.

House Speaker Newt Gingrich said welfare reform should be at the top of the agenda for Congress in the fall. Speaking at a Midwest Republican Leadership Conference in Indianapolis, Gingrich also said the Republican Party may need to come up with a new Contract With America for the presidential election in 2000. He suggested the new contract might include a flat tax and complete elimination of the Internal Revenue Service.

The State Department gave permission to the Archdiocese of Miami to charter a cruise ship for travel to Cuba in January, when Pope John Paul II visits the island. A department spokesman said other means of reaching Cuba for the papal visit may be authorized for Americans who wish to be present. The US tightened restrictions on travel to Cuba last year, barring charter flights and other forms of direct travel to the island.

Forecasters told Californians to prepare for devastating floods and mudslides from the phenomenon known as El Nio, a warming in the eastern central Pacific that is said to create the world's second-most powerful weather force (after the seasons). This year, experts say, El Nio could be at its worst since 1982-83 - and perhaps surpass its force during that season. A National Weather Service official said he expected the storms in California to begin as early as September and to last well into the spring.

The state of Alaska asked the US Supreme Court to overturn a court ruling that affirmed government powers for native Alaskan tribes. The state said the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act never contemplated giving such authority to some 200 native villages. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the village of Venetie can levy taxes.

A civil lawsuit was filed in Syracuse, N.Y., against the Denny's restaurant chain by a group of minority students who said they were refused seating and left vulnerable to an attack by white youths. The suit accuses Denny's of failure to require employees to undergo antidiscrimination training as required by a civil rights judgment. In 1994, the company agreed to a $46-million settlement of class-action lawsuits brought by black Secret Service agents and California students who said they were discriminated against in Denny's restaurants.

Final statements are expected today in hearings on sexual-misconduct allegations against the Army's top enlisted man. Six women have testified that Sgt. Maj. of the Army Gene McKinney made improper sexual advances toward them. Col. Robert Jarvis, presiding officer at the hearing in Fort McNair, Va., will sift through the testimony and recommend whether McKinney should be court-martialed.

The World

The Bosnian Serb assembly moved to isolate President Biljana Plavsic. The government in Pale said it would regard all of her decisions as "irregular, illegitimate, and non-binding for the government," the state news agency reported. The announcement came after Plavsic tried to dismiss the hard-line assembly, accusing it of corruption that has beggared the country. Plavsic, who is backed by NATO, is engaged in a power struggle with Radovan Karadzic, former Serb leader and indicted war-crimes suspect.

Rwanda's efforts to reunite its fractured ethnic groups suffered a setback last weekend. At least 118 Tutsis were killed and 87 more injured at a border camp. Witnesses said Hutu rebels torched the tents and opened fire on the residents. The reported massacre is the worst attack by Hutus since the rebels tried to regain power in 1995. But it is just the latest episode in the cycle of ethnic violence that has gripped the Central African country since independence.

Cambodia's strongman may now control all of the Southeast Asian country. Troops loyal to Hun Sen overran O'Smach, the last frontier town held by soldiers of ousted co-premier Prince Norodom Ranariddh, witnesses reported. The fighting began July 6, when Hun Sen staged a coup to remove Ranariddh from power. The two men had shared power under an uneasy coalition since 1993 elections.

Palestinians and Israeli troops clashed in Bethlehem, exchanging rocks and rubber bullets. The Palestinians were protesting a three-week Israeli border closure. In Hebron, masked Palestinians also marched in protest of the blockade, which they say has crippled their economy. Israel has lifted some of the restrictions imposed after two suicide bombings July 30, but Bethlehem's 60,000 residents are still barred from leaving town.

Israel targeted suspected guerrilla sites in south Lebanon. At least three Hizbullah guerrillas were killed in air raids and artillery clashes, Israeli militia sources said. Saturday's fighting - the worst since an Israeli blitz in April 1996 - was apparently triggered by a Hizbullah attack against an Israeli position in Blat, inside Israel's occupation zone.

Algeria was swept by a wave of violence this weekend. More than 105 people were killed, and at least 21 girls kidnapped in three separate attacks. While no one has claimed responsibility, the attacks are believed to be the work of Islamic insurgents who have battled since 1992 to overthrow the military-backed government. More than 1,000 people have died in the latest round of violence, which began in June.

Cosmonauts took the weekend off after tough repairs on the beleaguered Russian space station Mir. A June 25 collision knocked out more than a third of the station's energy. Officials say it may be days before it's clear if repairs restored power to pre-accident levels. After a well-deserved rest, cosmonauts will suit up for more repairs, including patching holes in the Spektr lab.

Zambian police wounded former President Kaunda, who was speaking at an opposition rally in Kabwe. Another opposition leader, Roger Chongwe, was also shot, and police arrested more than 53 people. A police spokesman said the rally was illegal, and denied claims that opposition leaders were targeted on orders from the vice president.

Ukraine celebrated its sixth anniversary of independence from Moscow yesterday. The republic's declaration of independence in 1991 ended 300 years of Russian rule.

A UN team arrived in Congo to begin investigating alleged killings of Rwandan refugees by the soldiers of President Laurent-Desir Kabila.

Etceteras

"I'm asking him to step down so that we can run as equals."

- James Hoffa Jr., urging Teamsters president Ron Carey to resign after a court-appointed officer ordered new elections for union leadership and ruled illegal campaign contributions may have helped Carey defeat Hoffa last year.

Bill Clinton and Czech President Vaclav Havel are apparently both interested in controlling the commercial use of their own images. The White House objected this summer, you may recall, to recordings of Clinton press conferences being bootlegged into the movie "Contact." More recently, reports out of Prague say the Czech first lady has objected to her husband's image being used to advertise Raveli boots.

Dolores, a stray cat taken in by Kyle Leibach of Pittsburgh, has repaid his kindness ninefold - risking her proverbial nine lives to save him from an apartment fire. The Abyssinian alerted Leibach by jumping on his head and scratching his face. Dolores reportedly inhaled so much smoke, she had to be revived by firefighters.

Ollie the parrot broke into prison recently - and apparently enjoyed doing time. The African Grey left his home in a London suburb and flew to Wormwood Scrubs jail. After a journey through the prison's ventilation system, Ollie was taken in by a kindly lifer who shared his precious stock of cookies. Reunited with her pet, legal secretary Dot Oliver said Ollie came back fatter than he went in.

The Day's List

US Economy Faces Worst Trade Deficit in Years

Despite a better-than-expected showing in June, the US trade deficit is running at an annual rate of $111.1 billion, which would produce the biggest deficit since 1988. The US deficit (or surplus) with some major trading partners for the first half of '97 (in billions of dollars):

Japan -$25.7

China -21.2

OPEC nations -10.9

Germany -8.4

Canada -8.3

Mexico -8.2

Taiwan -5.7

Italy -4.7

France -1.7

Russia -.4

South Korea +2.7

Hong Kong +3.1

Britain +3.5

- Associated Press

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