News In Brief

The US

The White House denied it leaked detailed accounts of President Clinton's deposition in the Paula Jones lawsuit to The Washington Post. The Post said Clinton denied under oath having a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky, and he said his secretary initiated efforts to help the former White House intern find a job. The report said Clinton acknowledged exchanging gifts with Lewinsky and that they may have been alone together during one of perhaps five visits she made to his office. The president also said he may have given her a hat pin, gold brooch, and book of Walt Whitman poetry, the Post said.

A Miami judge ordered a new mayoral election for the city, saying widespread absentee-ballot fraud played a role in Xavier Suarez's victory last fall. The ruling didn't specify who will hold office until the election in 60 days. Circuit Judge Thomas Wilson Jr. said no evidence exists that Suarez knew of or participated in the fraud. Evidence included forged signatures, stolen ballots, and people migrating to the city just to vote.

After 12 hours of debate, the US House voted 209 to 208 to allow Puerto Rico a referendum by the end of the year on statehood, independence, or whether to continue with commonwealth status. Puerto Ricans are US citizens, but have their own government and don't vote in presidential elections or pay federal taxes.

DNA from the exhumed remains of Sam Sheppard doesn't match blood stains found in his home or on his clothing, a family attorney said. The new evidence indicates he was wrongly convicted of murdering his wife in the famous 1954 case. The DNA of Richard Eberling, a former window washer at the home, appears to match the stains found on Mrs. Sheppard's body, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported. Sheppard served10 years in prison before being acquitted in 1966. He died in 1970.

The CIA has been training the security forces of the Palestinian Authority in espionage, information gathering, interrogation, and other techniques, The New York Times reported. Training has taken place in the US since 1996, with Israel's knowledge, it said. Although the CIA instructs trainees in nonviolent interrogation techniques, the newspaper cited a recent Human Rights Watch report that Palestinian Security Services killed many of the 14 people who have died in their custody in the past three years.

The House Banking Committee was expected to approve compromise legislation with the Clinton administration over funding for the International Monetary Fund. The bill requires the IMF to be more flexible in economic programs and to focus more on labor and environmental issues. If approved, Congress plans to vote on the issue next week.

The House Judiciary Committee cleared the way for a floor vote on a constitutional amendment that would protect school prayer and allow for the use of tax money for private religious schools. Supporters called the proposal a necessary antidote to court decisions that distort First Amendment provisions for freedom of religion. Opponents said the bill would weaken the walls separating church and state.

The US Environmental Protection Agency said it will place new controls on thousands of large livestock and poultry farms to reduce the runoff of manure and other wastes into lakes and streams. The EPA wants to cut the amounts of excess nutrients contaminating such waters to reduce contamination, fish kills, and other problems.

Factory orders rose 0.5 percent in January after a 2.6 percent drop in December, the Commerce Department said. With the exception of aircraft, demand for US manufactured goods was extremely weak, dropping by 0.2 percent.

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race begins tomorrow in Anchorage. Mushers plan to travel more than 1,000 miles by dog team through Alaska's wilderness with hopes of winning a portion of the $425,000 purse.

The World

Tit-for-tat ethnic violence in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo brought what Albanian leaders called "massacres" of villagers by Serb police. Unconfirmed reports said heavy police reinforcements were being sent to the area to deal with "provocations" by Albanians seeking autonomy for the province. Albanians outnumber Serbs in Kosovo by 9 to 1. Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic abolished the province's autonomy in 1989.

The American arms inspector whose presence in Iraq helped touch off the latest standoff with the UN was on his way back to Baghdad with his team. Scott Ritter was ordered to return by UN inspection chief Richard Butler. Iraq blocked his team in January, alleging he's a spy. Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan told PBS television that economic sanctions cannot be lifted until Iraq accounts for all missing Gulf war prisoners and returns property seized from Kuwait.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair planned to invite Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams for a private meeting in London aimed at returning the political ally of the Irish Republican Army to peace negotiations, his office announced. The meeting was not expected until late next week. Sinn Fein was expelled from talks on the future of Northern Ireland for one month. It is eligible to return Monday, but says it will not do so until after a face-to-face meeting with Blair.

Suspicion immediately fell on the Tamil Tiger guerrilla movement for a powerful suicide-bomb explosion in Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo. The attack killed at least 32 people; 257 others were reported hurt. Property damage also was heavy. The bomb went off at a busy intersection, aboard a bus occupied only by the driver. It was the sixth suicide attack in the island nation in as many months.

Indonesia's currency, the rupiah, reversed a three-week pattern of stable trading and tumbled to 10,400 against the US dollar, reflecting the concern of traders that the next International Monetary Fund bailout payment could be delayed. A $3 billion payment is due a week from Sunday, but reports say it could be delayed because of the government's current preoccupation with the reelection of President Suharto.

With congressional elections looming Sunday, Colombia's government poured hundreds more troops into a heavily forested area where leftist guerrillas have been on the attack all week. A guerrilla leader claimed his forces had killed 70 soldiers and taken eight others prisoner. Fourteen mayors in the area also have been seized in the past two weeks.

Because of his youth and show of remorse, the prison sentence for Bosnian war criminal Drazen Erdemovic was cut in half by the UN tribunal in The Hague. Erdemovic, still in his mid-20s, admitted shooting at least 70 unarmed Muslims in 1995 while serving with a detachment of Bosnian Serb fighters. Counting time already served, the court said he should spend no more than five years in custody instead of the 10 originally imposed.

Germans protested in Berlin, Munich, and other key cities at the release of the latest national unemployment figures. Some 3,800 workers lost their jobs in February, on top of the 4.8 million unemployed at the end of January - the most since World War II. The problem is worst in eastern Germany, where 21.3 percent of the work force is unemployed. The Lutheran Church said it worried that such protests may turn violent, benefiting radical political parties as the September elections approach.

Etceteras

"Progress must be made before the situation gets even more grave."

- European Union chairman and British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, on escalating ethnic violence in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo.

Jeffrey Cabaniss is unhappy that his hometown won't let him sell soft-serve ice cream the same way he has for the past seven years. Not that he doesn't understand, mind you. Councillors in Stafford Township, N.J., banned ice-cream trucks from playing music as they slowly cruise the streets in summer, ruling that only a bell may be rung at each stop. To distinguish his from competitors', Cabaniss had played "Turkey in the Straw" - over and over and over and . . . well, you get the idea. But he admits that's annoying; inside the truck he uses a radio to drown out the song so he doesn't have to listen to it himself.

In nearby Absecon, N.J. a stream of customers pulled into a Texaco station for fuel earlier this week, unaware that the fellow waiting on them was also robbing the place. He and a partner had locked two employees in a washroom and emptied the cash register and a vending machine. They prepared to make their getaway when several cars arrived at the pumps. To avoid causing suspicion, one of them played attendant for about 10 minutes until the coast was clear.

The Day's List

Finally, a Federal Budget Surplus: First of Many?

When the Congressional Budget Office updated its projections in March, it discovered the first federal budget surplus in 29 years. Assuming current government policies don't change and the US economy continues to grow at its present rate, surpluses are projected to rise eventually to $138 billion in the next decade, the CBO says. Its projected surpluses for fiscal years 1998 to 2008:

1998 $8 billion

1999 9 billion

2000 1 billion

2001 13 billion

2002 67 billion

2003 53 billion

2004 70 billion

2005 75 billion

2006 115 billion

2007 130 billion

2008 138 billion

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