News In Brief

The US

A federal judge struck down the remaining provisions of California's Proposition 187, which banned illegal immigrants from receiving government benefits and services. The decision by district Judge Mariana Pfaelzer, who ruled in November that much of the voter-approved proposition was unconstitutional, drew immediate fire from Gov. Pete Wilson (R) and Attorney General Dan Lungren, who vowed to appeal all the way to the US Supreme Court.

The House defeated an effort to force the administration to remove US troops from Bosnia or get specific permission from Congress to leave them there. The vote was 225 to 193. The administration has requested nearly $2.5 billion to keep the peacekeeping forces in Bosnia through September 1999.

A friend of former White House volunteer Kathleen Willey said in an affidavit that Willey had asked her to lie to bolster her claim of an unwanted encounter with President Clinton at the White House. Julie Hiatt Steele said in a statement dated Feb. 13 that Willey asked her to lie to a Newsweek reporter in March or April last year about Willey's statements and demeanor after the alleged November 1993 incident.

Clinton is scheduled to leave for Africa Sunday on a six-nation tour that aides describe as the most ambitious visit to that continent by a sitting president. He will take with him a new US policy that emphasizes trade and investment. The House last week approved a measure that would give duty-free and quota-free access to the US market to sub-Saharan African nations that undertake economic reforms.

A plan to combine the Nasdaq Stock Market and the American Stock Exchange received preliminary approval from the boards of both institutions. A source familiar with the proposal said it would allow the them to run separately under an umbrella organization. The proposal is subject to approval by regulators and by members of the Nasdaq exchange.

The US trade deficit hit its highest level in more than a decade in January, rising 10.5 percent to $12.04 billion, the Commerce Department said. Economists were expecting an increase in the deficit because of economic turmoil in Asia. Meanwhile, cheaper energy prices helped to keep the consumer price index (CPI) subdued in February, but the Labor Department said a closely watched "core" index - which strips out volatile food and energy costs - showed its biggest gain in 10 months. The CPI rose 0.1 percent after a flat reading in January. The core index rose 0.3 percent after a 0.2 percent gain in January.

Plans for a "community builders fellowship" program were announced by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo. Beginning this fall, it will send hundreds of skilled professionals - from bankers to architects - to aid local communities. Cuomo said 230 people will be recruited this year and 230 next year for two years of service at salaries averaging about $70,000 a year. They will be trained at Harvard University and HUD.

Baseball owners approved the sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers to Rupert Murdoch's Fox Group from Peter O'Malley, sources said. In approving the sale, owners apparently disregarded the opposition of Ted Turner, vice chairman of Time Warner Inc., the Atlanta Braves owner. Meanwhile, Cablevision has reportedly discussed with New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner the possibility of buying his team. The talks were reported by Newsday, a New York daily.

An auction of Kennedy memorabilia was sparsely attended, with many noteworthy lots going unsold. Before the bidding in New York, the collector selling most of the items once owned by the late President John Kennedy reached an accord with Caroline Kennedy and John Kennedy Jr. to return some of their father's more personal items. In return, the Kennedy children gave up all claims to owning the other auction items.

The World

Secretary of State Albright will ask Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Arafat to separate meetings in Europe as soon as next week, the Jerusalem newspaper Haaretz reported. It said she would try to enlist their support for a new US initiative to break a year-long deadlock in Middle East peace negotiations before making the plan public. In Washington, the Clinton administration rejected an Israeli request to delay the plan because it reportedly calls for a substantial pullback from the West Bank.

Using night sticks, tear gas, high-pressure hoses, and warning shots, Indonesian police broke up an antigovernment protest at a state university 220 miles north of Jakarta. At least 60 students were arrested. Witnesses said they saw dozens of women demonstrators being beaten. The protest, calling on President Suharto to resign, came as a 25-day ban on such demonstrations ended.

If local and state governments in the US decide to boycott Swiss banks at a meeting next week, the move may well bring retaliation, a senior official warned. Thomas Borer, the Swiss government's special representative for Holocaust issues, hinted that defense contracts with American suppliers could be canceled or applications to build mobile-phone networks in Switzerland turn-ed down. US public-finance officers are weighing what to do about Jewish claims that the banks are withholding assets left by Holocaust victims.

Thirty-eight villagers suspected of taking part in the pre-Christmas massacre of Indians in Mexico's troubled Chiapas state surrendered to police. Reports said some of the suspects confessed to being activists for the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party. Their arrest brings to 92 the number of paramilitary gunmen now in custody for the Dec. 22 attack on supporters of the state's Zapatista rebels.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was sworn in as prime minister of India and said his government will seek its first vote of confidence in Parliament next week. He pledged his coalition, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, would protect Indian industries against foreign competition and develop nuclear weapons. Rival Pakistan called the latter goal "disturbing" and said it would conduct a review of its own nuclear policy.

An alliance between struggling conservative parties and the ultrarightist National Front would be "a danger for our democracy," French Prime Minister Jospin warned. The conservatives fared poorly in last weekend's regional elections and were courted openly by the National Front as Sunday's second round of local voting approached. The front, which has gained strength in recent years, blames many of France's problems on immigrants.

Another resounding defeat appears likely for German Chancellor Kohl's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in local elections Sunday. Voters in Schleswig-Holstein, once a CDU stronghold, were expected to duplicate the outcome in Lower Saxony earlier this month, where the opposition Social Democrats scored an easy win. Analysts said the CDU already was portraying Schleswig-Holstein as strictly a contest on local issues rather than a referendum on Kohl.

A key unit of Basque separatist commandos and two caches of guns, grenades, and bombmaking materials were seized by police in northern Spain. Eight members of the so-called "Araba cell" - two of them women - were arrested in or near Vitoria, capital of the small province of Alava. The cell is blamed for two attempt-ed bombings last month, both targeting local leaders of the ruling Popular Party.

Etceteras

"I would imagine the governor is feeling now like the captain of the Titanic."

- Mark Rosenbaum of California's American Civil Liberties Union, after a federal judge angered Gov. Pete Wilson (R) by striking down Prop. 187, which denied government benefits to illegal immigrants.

Beatrice Concrete is proof that you can fight city hall and win. Last July 2, one of its mixer trucks was cited at 4:22 a.m. for illegal parking. Impossible, the company argued - offering logs that showed exactly where the truck had been that day. That only got the fine increased from $55 to $115. But finally reason prevailed. This week the city finance commissioner dismissed the ticket with apologies, as an obvious mistake - probably because it was written in the New York borough of Queens and Beatrice is 1,300 miles away in Nebraska.

Would you plunk down $15 to buy a movie ticket? If the General Cinema theater chain has gauged the market correctly, there are plenty of filmgoers who will. The company plans to open a 70-seat "premium" movie house in Yorktown, Ill., near Chicago, April 3. For their money, ticket-holders will get valet parking, a private entrance, access to a preferred-customer lounge, plush leather seats, and - oh, yes - all the free popcorn they can eat.

The Day's List

Five Hottest and Coldest Spots in US Last Year

More often than any other place in the US, Lake Havasu City, Ariz., reported the highest temperatures in 1997 - 76 of the year's 365 days, according to statistics compiled by David Hickcox, director of environmental studies at Ohio Wesleyan University. Not counting Alaska, West Yellowstone, Mont., was the coldest place 26 times, Hickcox reports in the March issue of Weatherwise magazine. The hottest and coldest spots - and the number of days each led the nation last year:

Hottest

1. Lake Havasu City, Ariz. 76

2. Bullhead City, Ariz. 44

3. Coolidge, Ariz. 38

4. Fort Myers, Fla. 37

5. Casa Grande, Ariz. 16

Coldest

1. West Yellowstone, Mont. 26

2. Fraser, Colo. 21

3. Winter Park, Colo. 19

4. Alamosa, Colo. 15

5. Stanley, Idaho 14

- Associated Press

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