News In Brief

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The US

President Clinton planned to roll out the red carpet for British Prime Minister Tony Blair today. Blair is visiting the US with a team of domestic policy leaders to brainstorm with the administration on issues such as education and the welfare overhaul. After being treated to a 19-gun salute and dinner featuring performances by Elton John and Stevie Wonder, Blair was to face the press with Clinton at a White House news conference tomorrow. Among other issues, they planned to present a united front on Iraq and a peace initiative for Northern Ireland.

Congress was expected to pass a bipartisan resolution urging Clinton to "take all necessary and appropriate actions to respond to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction program." Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, just returned from talks with Arab and European leaders, planned to meet with member of Congress to urge passage of the resolution sponsored by Senate majority leader Trent Lott (R) of Mississippi and minority leader Tom Daschle (D) of South Dakota.

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Democratic fund-raiser Yahlin Charlie Trie was to be formally arraigned in Washington today on charges of campaign fund-raising abuses. Clinton's longtime friend flew into Washington's Dulles International Airport and surrendered to the FBI. He fled the US in 1996 and took refuge in China. Last week, a grand jury brought 15 charges against Trie and Antonio Pan, a business associate, accusing them of funneling illegal foreign contributions to Democratic Party campaign committees during the 1996 election cycle.

George Stephanopoulos, a former senior aide to Clinton, testified before a federal grand jury that he had no firsthand knowledge about the relationship between the president and former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Another former White House intern, Caroline Self, was also questioned about packages from Lewinsky that she had signed for at the White House, and said she knew of no improper relationship between the two. Meanwhile, Lewinsky flew to California to visit her father.

El-Nio-driven downpours and high winds forced thousands of West Coast residents out of their homes as rivers overflowed and freeways flooded. Meanwhile, residents on the East Coast braced for slow-moving rain and snow storms and heavy winds. In Florida, torrential rains and tornadoes left 91 families homeless in Greater Miami.

Gene McKinney, former Sgt. Major of the Army, pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting and harassing women soldiers as his court martial began at Fort Belvoir, Va. He is accused on 19 counts, including indecent assault, adultery, and obstruction of justice.

The Federal Reserve was expected to hold interest rates steady as it wrapped up a two-day meeting in Washington, economists said. The central bank is assessing the impact of Asia's economic crisis.

The US Supreme Court rejected a final appeal by Karla Faye Tucker, who became the first woman to be executed in Texas since 1863 and the first in the nation since 1984. Tucker became a born-again Christian after being convicted of murdering two people in 1983.

A company owned by investor Warren Buffet announced it has bought 130 million ounces of silver worth about $850 million since July, more than the total kept in warehouses by the New York Mercantile Exchange. Omaha-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc. said it has no present plans for reselling the silver. Dwindling supplies have pushed the metal to its highest price in nine years.

Republican legislators made plans to dismiss former US Rep. Bob Dornan's challenge to the 1996 election he lost to Democrat Loretta Sanchez. A congressional task force established by Republicans "could not prove there were enough illegal votes to vacate the seat or overturn the election," its statement said.

The World

"Sooner or later," UN weapons inspectors will be allowed into Iraqi presidential palaces, a senior member of parliament in Baghdad said. Rijaa al-Shawi told reporters the country's leaders "are keen to get rid of this crisis" and avert a military strike by US-led forces. In Moscow, Russian President Yeltsin was quoted as warning that by ordering such an attack the US "might run into a world war."

Secretary of State Albright headed home to Washington after her tour of Middle East capitals. Following her meeting with him in Cairo, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak urged Iraq to end the standoff and avoid "very dangerous consequences."

Senior British leaders fanned out to confer with allies on a common strategy vis-a-vis Iraq. Prime Minister Tony Blair headed for his first official visit in Washington with President Clinton. Meanwhile, Defense Minister Robin Cook was to fly to the Gulf, where Saudi Arabia has so far withheld permission for its territory and air space to be used in an attack on Iraq.

Armenia was in political chaos as President Levon Ter-Petrosian followed the resignations of three senior allies by quitting himself. The Speaker of parliament also resigned, handing power to hard-line Prime Minister Robert Kocharyan. Kocharyan is the former leader of the ethnic Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, whose campaign to secede from Muslim-dominated Azerbaijan triggered years of civil war. Under Armenian law, a new presidential election must be held by mid-March.

The jobless rate in Germany reached a postwar high last month - 4.8 million people, or 12.6 percent of the work force, according to statistics due to be released today. Nationwide protests were planned to coincide with the announcement.

Low-flying warplanes have long been a source of concern in the area where a US Marine surveillance aircraft severed a gondola cable, political leaders in northern Italy said. Twenty people died when the cabin in which they were riding fell to the ground at Cavalese, bringing investigators to the scene and angry calls in parliament for the closure of military bases used by US forces. The plane returned safely to its base 60 miles from the accident.

China has no intention of becoming a military threat to the rest of the world, its defense minister said. Chi Haotian told an audience at Japan's Institute for Defense Studies that the Chinese military buildup would be within the context of overall economic development - without which, he said, "poverty prevails [that] would be a true threat to world peace."

A motion of no-confidence in Nepal's three-month-old, but faction-ridden, government was to be considered by a special session of parliament. The move came after the opposition Communist Party asked King Birendra to reject Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa's recommendation for new elections. Three governments have lost no-confidence votes in Nepal since 1994.

Almost two-thirds of Montserrat's population has fled since the Soufriere Hills volcano rumbled to life in mid-1995, a government report said. Only 3,200 of the 11,000 people who called the island home still live there, and 2,983 of them now draw food vouchers, it said. Officials accuse Britain of delaying aid in order to drive away the remaining residents. Meanwhile, in London, the Labour government promised a "modern contract" with its remaining dependent territories - among them Montserrat - including possible full citizenship and the right to live in Britain for subjects who wish to.

Etceteras

"We're four-for-four."

- Bill Richardson, US Ambassador to the UN, on his success rate in lining up Security Council members to support a military strike against Iraq.

Candidates for political office were among the early discoverers of the value of having their own Web sites. Now, entrepreneurs have discovered that as well. Case in point: an Arizona computer firm that already has bought the rights to www.Forbes2000.com. If publisher Steve Forbes seeks the GOP presidential nomination again two years from now, he'll have no control over the site bearing his name - unless he meets the company's asking price. Among other presumed candidates who'd have to do the same: US Sen. John Ashcroft (R) of Missouri and governors Christine Whitman (R) of New Jersey and George Bush (R) of Texas.

Remember "Babe," the movie in which a small pig thought it was a shepherd dog? Now there's real-life sequel - sort of. As Pam and Fred Abma of Ramsey, N.J., were sleeping, fire broke out in their laundry room. Honeymoon, their pet pig, went to the bedroom and awakened them in time. The couple's two dogs, meanwhile, dozed through the whole ordeal.

The Day's List

Panel Nominates 11 for Basketball Hall of Fame

Ex-Boston Celtics star Larry Bird heads a list of eight retired players and three coaches nominated this week for the Basketball Hall of Fame by the sport's regular screening committee. More nominees will be offered by veterans', women's, and international committees. The 1998 inductees are to be announced June 29; installation is scheduled for October in Springfield, Mass. The nominees:

Players

Larry Bird

Larry Costello

Adrian Dantley

Artis Gilmore

Gus Johnson

Sidney Moncrief

Chet Walker

Marques Haynes

Coaches

Alex Hannum

John Thompson (still active)

Tex Winter (still active)

- Reuters

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