News In Brief

The US

Defense Secretary William Cohen said he plans to call up several hundred more reserves to prepare for an attack on Iraq despite reports that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was close to a breakthrough in the dispute over arms inspections. Earlier, President Clinton approved a military campaign_- codenamed "Desert Thunder" - for waves of large-scale attacks on Iraqi targets if Baghdad refuses to let UN inspectors do their job.

The US Senate is preparing to vote on Clinton's plan for an attack on Iraq this week as it resumes today after a recess. Congress also is expected to take up campaign-finance reform and transportation legislation that would sharply increase spending on roads, bridges, and mass transit.

Secret Service agents are legally shielded from telling prosecutors in the Monica Lewinsky probe everything they saw or heard while protecting the president, a senior Justice Department official argued. But the department is still negotiating with Whitewater investigator Kenneth Starr to determine if such personnel might be allowed to give limited testimony in special circumstances.

Former Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiring to declare a "sham bankruptcy" aimed at shielding his profits on a cable television business in Florida in the 1980s. Under a plea-bargain deal, prosecutors alleged Tucker and his partners used the bankruptcy to avoid paying about $3 million in taxes. Tucker will be sentenced to five years probation in exchange for agreeing to cooperate with Starr's Whitewater investigation.

A man arrested by FBI agents in Las Vegas for possessing a biological agent was released from jail after it was determined the anthrax William Leavitt Jr. had was a safe form used in animal vaccines. But fellow suspect Larry Harris remained in jail and was scheduled to appear in court today for a detention hearing. The federal government expected to complete tests today on other biological material seized from houses owned by Harris, a former member of the white separatist Aryan Nations.

The CIA released a report kept secret for 36 years that blamed arrogance, ignorance, and incompetence for the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961, The New York Times reported. For many years, the late President Kennedy was blamed for the fiasco, but the report said he might not have completely grasped details of the raid because the the CIA didn't fully explain them. The invasion involved a CIA-trained landing force, made up of Cuban immigrants, that was quickly crushed in its attempt to overthrow President Fidel Castro.

Clinton outlined a $400 million plan to eliminate racial and ethnic disparity in the health of Americans by 2010. The money would be used to assess current programs, improve data collection, and work with localities. He cited statistics showing that infant mortality rates are twice as high for blacks compared with whites, and that certain diseases are disproportionately higher among African-Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and Native Americans.

The administration asked the US Supreme Court to quickly overturn a federal judge's ruling and clear the way for continued use of the president's line-item veto power. US District Judge Thomas Hogan of Washington struck down the law earlier this months on grounds that it violates the traditional balance of powers among the various branches of government. The law gives the president the power to strike items from tax and spending measures without vetoing the entire bill.

Civil rights activist Julian Bond was elected chairman of the NAACP. The former Georgia state legislator is a history professor in Washington. Outgoing chairman Myrlie Evers-Wil-liams, widow of assassinated civil rights leader Medgar Evers, announced earlier she wouldn't seek a fourth term.

The World

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was reported to be on the verge of a breakthrough in the Iraqi weapons-inspection crisis. His spokesman, Fred Eckhard, said "substantial progress" was made in three hours of talks with President Saddam Hussein but gave no details. Eckhard said Annan hoped "to have an announcement" today before leaving Baghdad and "expects to be able to sell to the Security Council" the terms of any agreement reached with the Iraqi leader.

Voting resumed in India's national elections, but was again tarnished by violence. At least 17 people were reported dead before polling stations opened or in fighting among rival groups in the states of Bihar, West Bengal, and Orissa. In parts of Maharashtra state, few voters ventured to the polls after being warned to stay home by Marxist guerrillas. In Uttar Pradesh, voting was thrown into confusion when the state's Hindu nationalist government fell after losing the support of a coalition ally.

Tens of thousands of police and Army troops went on alert in Jakarta in connection with a 25-day Indonesia-wide ban on street demonstrations - or until a week after the country's electoral college meets to reelect President Suharto to a seventh five-year term. The ban followed a wave of unrest over rising food prices and uncertainty over the worst financial crisis in decades. Human-rights activists claimed at least five people were killed in the violence, with 10 others hurt, and more than 900 arrested.

Turkey's largest political party ceased to exist after losing a bitter legal fight over the role of Islam in public life. The Welfare Party, whose leader, Necmettin Erbakan, still held the office of prime minister less than a year ago, was stripped of its 152 seats in parliament and was subject to having its assets seized under a Constitutional Court ruling. Erbakan and five senior members of parliament also lost immunity from prosecution for actions aimed at replacing the official secularism with a Muslim-based system. Those moves put the party at odds with Turkey's powerful military. Senior Welfare leaders were meeting to plan a replacement party.

After two weeks of uncooperative weather and even an earthquake, the Olympic Winter Games closed amid colorful ceremonies in Nagano, Japan. The ceremonies and competitions attracted a reported 1.35 million spectators. The next winter games - in 2002 - will be held in Salt Lake City, Utah.

A new senior media adviser is being hired to improve the battered public image of Britain's royal family, a spokesman for Buckingham Palace announced. The Sunday Times (London) reported that the as-yet-unidentified adviser would have direct access to Queen Elizabeth II, who had commissioned surveys on public perceptions of the royal family after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. The results indicated that many Britons regard the family as out of touch, insincere, and wasteful, the newspaper said.

Only one standby cable was supplying electricity to much of New Zealand's capital, Auckland, as businesses, schools, and other institutions prepared to stay closed for at least a week. Residents were urged to leave their homes, and public-service announcements warned that all thawed food should be thrown out. Repair crews worked around the clock to try to fix at least two of the four lines that supply power after the lights went out last Friday night. The massive outage is blamed, in part, on an unusually hot and dry summer.

Etceteras

"Congratulations, Nagano and Japan! You have presented to the world the best

organization in the history of the Olympic Winter Games."

- International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch, closing the Nagano games.

When three European adventurers aborted their widely followed round-the-world balloon flight Feb. 7, they landed in a farmer's bean field in western Burma. Soon, a crowd of curious villagers gathered, followed by police and, finally, a crew to pack and ship the balloon and its gondola. By the time the excitement was finished, so was the bean field. But the story doesn't end there. Last week, the balloonists were heard from again - in the form of financial compensation sent to pay for the farmer's losses.

In neighboring Thailand, administrators at Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy - the country's West Point - aren't too worried about the cadets being attentive in English class when next semester begins in May. That's because the instructor is to be lieutenant-designate Areeya Sirisopha. The corps of cadets is all-male, whereas the newly appointed teacher was Miss Thailand of 1996.

The Day's List

Top 10 Books Being Read on US Campuses

Compiled by the Washington-based Chronicle of Higher Education from information supplied by stores serving 53 college and university campuses:

1. "Cold Mountain" by Charles Frazier

2. "Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West" by Stephen Ambrose (nonfiction)

3. "Ellen Foster" by Kaye Gibbons

4. "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" by John Berendt

5. "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff - and It's All Small Stuff" by Richard Carlson (nonfiction)

6. "Under the Tuscan Sun" by Frances Mayes (nonfiction)

7. "Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul" compiled by Jack Canfield et al. (nonfiction)

8. "Angela's Ashes: A Memoir" by Frank McCourt (nonfiction)

9. "Wizards and Glass" (Dark Tower, Vol. 4) by Stephen King

10. "Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster" by Jon Krakauer (nonfiction)

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