News In Brief

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The US

President Clinton began back-to-back meetings with four delegations from Ireland in an effort to bridge obstacles to peace. He met with Gerry Adams - leader of the Irish Republican Army's political ally, Sinn Fein - and was to hold St. Patrick's Day talks with Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern and leaders of Catholic and Protestant parties in Northern Ireland.

Sixty percent of Americans are inclined to believe Clinton has been involved in a pattern of sexual misconduct, an ABC News poll indicated. The survey was taken after former White House volunteer Kathleen Willey appeared on CBS. Although the president's ratings for personal popularity, honesty, and personal morals were the worst of his presidency, 70 percent of respondents said he should remain in office based on what is known now and 63 percent approved his performance in office.

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Defense Secretary William Cohen told the military to use more female recruiters and trainers, to better police separate housing of men and women recruits, and to curb harassment of women in uniform. But Cohen did not make a decision on a recommendation to train some men and women separately in the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Only the Marine Corps now both houses and trains men and women separately.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Gene McKinney said he plans to retire and "move on" after being reprimanded and demoted one rank by a jury that convicted him of obstruction of justice in a sexual-misconduct case. McKinney, once the Army's top enlisted man, had faced up to five years in prison. The jury sentenced him on one count three days after finding him innocent of 18 other charges involving sexual harassment.

Johnny Chung, a key figure in alleged fund-raising abuses by Democrats, pleaded guilty to illegally donating to the 1996 Clinton-Gore reelection campaign and the reelection campaign of US Sen. John Kerry (D) of Massachusetts. The Taiwan-born Los Angeles businessman faces a maximum penalty of 37 years in prison and a $1.45 million fine, but an agreement with prosecutors is expected to earn him a much lighter sentence.

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Bruce Kaplan said he would plead guilty to filing a false financial disclosure form and resign his office, continuing political upheaval in and around the south Florida city, one of several municipalities that make up Miami-Dade County.

Auctioneers planning to sell some of the late President John Kennedy's possessions settled a dispute with federal officials, but left members of the Kennedy family dismayed. The accord was reached with Robert White, who had obtained hundreds of items from the late president's personal secretary. Officials said some pieces posed a risk to US security, while others belonged to the National Archives. Two members of the Kennedy family offered to withdraw objections to today's sale at a New York auction house, if certain historically and personally valuable items were returned.

Prosecutors in New York charged the son of a once-prominent Manhattan lawyer with faking documents he claimed proved a relationship between President Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. Lawrence Cusack, the son of a lawyer he said had advised the late president, was charged with one count of mail fraud. Cusack persuaded Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh to cite the documents in his book "The Dark Side of Camelot." Hersh later decided the papers were fake. Cusack allegedly had convinced a number of investors to buy part-ownership of the documents in the hope they would grow in value once the Hersh book was published.

Output at US factories, mines, and utilities was unchanged in February as production of autos and light trucks fell for a third straight month, the Federal Reserve reported. The steady level followed a revised 0.1 percent increase in January and bigger increases in December and November.

The World

Serb police claimed another attack had been made against them by ethnic Albanians in the turbulent province of Kosovo. One policeman was reported hurt. The attack came as US and Russian diplomats visited the region to try to defuse tensions. Meanwhile, Albanian leaders refused for the fourth time to join visiting Serb officials for talks that could lead to the restoration of Kosovo's autonomy. The Albanians demand independence and the presence of a foreign mediator at any meeting with the Serbs.

Despite a style characterized as blunt and arrogant, leading economic reformer Zhu Rongji was elected premier of China. He is credited with lowering inflation from 22 percent in 1994 to near zero. But analysts said he risks a massive outburst of social unrest as his continuing reforms throw millions of people out of work.

Amid new concerns about his health, Russian President Boris Yeltsin canceled all remaining appointments this week, chiefly a meeting of leaders of former Soviet republics. A spokesman said Yeltsin's physicians had ordered complete rest but that he still planned to attend a two-day summit with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and French President Jacques Chirac next week.

A runoff appeared likely in Armenia's presidential election between Premier Robert Ko-charian and ex-Communist Party leader Karen Demirch-ian. With 35 percent of the vote counted after the ballot Monday, observers said neither candidate was headed for a majority. The runoff was expected to be held March 30, although seven other candidates were alleging fraud in the original vote.

Two weeks after his conviction in absentia for arms-smuggling, exiled Cambodian co-Premier Norodom Ranariddh went back on trial in Phnom Penh. Ranariddh is accused of conspiring with the outlawed Khmer Rouge to stage a coup against his rival, Hun Sen. Another conviction is considered a certainty. The trials are part of a complex international plan allowing both sides to save face so Ranariddh can seek a pardon and return to contest the July 26 national election. But he calls the trials a "sham" and hasn't mounted a defense.

Eight weeks before Filipinos are due to vote for a new president, an official investigation was ordered into the conduct of the leading contender. Vice President Joseph Estrada is accused by a former aide of seeking the assassination of President Fidel Ramos, which would have brought his early succession to the top office. Estrada, who holds an edge in the presidential race in opinion polls, denied the allegation, questioned its timing, and claimed he also is an assassination target.

The state of emergency in Zambia, imposed after a failed coup attempt last October, was lifted by President Frederick Chiluba, reports from Lusaka said. Almost 100 people - led by ex-President Kenneth Kaunda - were charged with treason in the takeover bid by junior Army officers. Chiluba's emergency rule was criticized by aid donors, several of whom have suspended payments.

Etceteras

The way it looks now, the visit might as well not have happened."

- Israeli Cabinet official Danny Naveh, calling British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook's trip to stimulate deadlocked peace negotiations 'too Palestinian.'

When it comes to celebrating St. Patrick's Day, you might think folks in the Republic of Ireland would have all the angles covered. Still, officials in the Emerald Isle were green with envy at the way that plumber Michael Butler turns the Chicago River their national color each year. So they hired him to do the same with the River Liffey in Dublin yesterday. To hear Butler's friends tell it, though, there's no secret. He merely tosses vegetable dye into the water from a motorboat, whose propeller then spreads it from bank to bank.

Southampton, Mass., administrators may be at the pinnacle of their political careers, but critics think they're not above making a mountain out of a mole hill. It seems landowner Henry Geryk's 50 acres extend all the way up Mt. Pomeroy, a local landmark, which he wants to rename for himself. That has stirred the pique of the officials since Pomeroy, an early settler, was a legend. They're protesting his plan. Geryk vows to come out on top.

The Day's List

At Box Office, 'Titanic' Steams Past 'Star Wars'

North American gross earnings of "Titanic" reached $471.4 million Friday, pushing it beyond the $461 million earned by "Star Wars" in its 1977 release and its 20th-anniversary reissue. This gives "Titanic" the title of all-time domestic moneymaker. The epic also edged out "The Man in the Iron Mask" in the weekly box-office derby, matching the record of 13 straight weeks at No. 1 set by "Tootsie" in 1982 and by "Beverly Hills Cop" in 1984. Estimated grosses for March 13-15 (in millions):

1. "Titanic" $17.6

2. "The Man in the Iron Mask" 17.3

3. "U.S. Marshals" 11.3

4. "Good Will Hunting" 4.8

5. "The Wedding Singer" 4.7

6. "The Big Lebowski" 3.5

7. "Twilight" 3.2

8. "Hush" 3.2

9. "As Good as It Gets" 3.1

10. "Dark City" 1.4

- Exhibitor Relations Inc./AP

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