News In Brief

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The US

President Clinton announced measures that will slightly relax US efforts to isolate Cuba. They include permitting a resumption of direct humanitarian charter flights to the island, allowing persons in the US to send $1,200 a year to relatives in Cuba, and expediting procedures for selling medicine and medical supplies to Cuba. The president said this would help meet the humanitarian needs of the Cuban people and prepare them for democracy.

Four Cuban baseball players, a coach, and four other Cubans who defected from the communist island more than a week ago were rescued at sea and taken to Ragged Island in the Bahamas, about 80 miles off the north coast of Cuba. The players and coach had been banned from baseball in July because Cuban officials suspected they had plans to defect.

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Tornadoes cut a swath of destruction across the Southeast. At least 11 people were killed and more than 80 others injured in Georgia; two people were killed and 27 injured in North Carolina. The Georgia tornado tore through a 10-mile stretch in the rural northeast part of the state. In North Carolina, most of the business district of Stoneville was destroyed.

Independent counsel Kenneth Starr argued the issue of executive privilege with White House lawyers in a closed hearing before US District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson. Presidential aides Bruce Lindsey and Sydney Blumenthal have reportedly cited executive privilege in refusing to testify before a grand jury about certain conversations they had in the White House concerning Clinton's ties to former intern Monica Lewinsky.

Carol Bruce, a Washington lawyer and former prosecutor, was named independent counsel to investigate whether Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt broke the law by making false statements to the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee about his role in rejecting a proposal for a casino from a group of Wisconsin Indians.

San Francisco's school board unanimously approved a requirement that high school students read at least one book each year by a minority author. Students from minority households make up nearly 87 percent of the district's high-school population. The board rejected earlier proposals that required up to 7 of the 10 books students read each year be written by minority authors.

Twenty percent of US middle schools and high schools reported at least one serious crime last year, the Education Department said. Its survey, based on responses from school principals, counted only crimes reported to police as taking place at schools, aboard school buses, or at school-sponsored events.

The suicide rate among young blacks more than doubled between 1980 and 1995, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. In 1995, there were 4.5 suicides per 100,000 blacks age 10 to 19, up from 2.1 in 1980. Historically, suicide rates among white youths have been higher than suicide rates among black youths. This study indicated the gap is narrowing.

Robert Duvall's "The Apostle" dominated the 13th Independent Spirit Awards presentation in Santa Monica, Calif. The film about a firebrand Southern preacher's quest for redemption was honored as best feature, and Duvall was named best director and best male lead. Spirit Awards are the top honors given by the nation's independent-film community. Duvall's performance has also been nominated for an Oscar at tonight's Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles.

The US intelligence budget this year totals $26.7 billion, virtually unchanged from last year, the CIA said. This is the second consecutive year that the agency has decided it could release the total intelligence-budget figure without harming national security.

Thw Worlds

Israel prepared for another visit by special US envoy Dennis Ross later this week but said in a statement that Washington could not dictate terms for breaking the deadlock in peace negotiations with the Palestinians. Reports of a new US plan calling for an Israeli withdrawal from 13 percent of the West Bank - linked to a tougher Palestinian crackdown on Islamic militants - were "unacceptable," the statement said. Israel has refused to yield more than 9 percent.

Over the objections of the Yugoslav government and concern-ed Western nations, ethnic Albanians in Kosovo turned out for an informal parliamentary election. Western countries support autonomy but not independence for the Albanian-dominated province, despite a police crackdown earlier this month in which at least 80 people died. Yugoslavia is threatened with new sanctions if its special police are not withdrawn and repression does not end by Wednesday.

Sinn Fein's return to negotiations on the future of Northern Ireland today was preceded by violence in Belfast. The political ally of the Irish Republican Army and its Protestant rivals in the talks pledged to approach them constructively. But police in Belfast had to use plastic bullets to break up a band of Protestant militants intent on attacking Catholic homes. Meanwhile, In Dundalk, on the Republic of Ireland side of the border, police arrested two men after finding a 1,300-pound bomb almost ready for use.

Saying a "new spirit of cooperation" now exists between Iraq and UN weapons inspectors, the latter's chief arrived in Baghdad for discussions on when and which senior diplomats would accompany the probes of so-called "presidential sites." Richard Butler said the inspections would be completed with "lightning speed" if Iraq told the "whole truth" about its chemical and biological weapons program.

Under a complex international plan for peace in Cambodia, exiled co-Premier Noro-dom Ranariddh was pardoned for his convictions on coup-plotting and weapons-smuggling charges. The pardon was granted by his father, King Norodom Sihanouk. The plan is designed to allow Ranariddh to return in time to compete in the country's July 26 national election. But it was unclear whether Ranariddh, ousted last year by his rival, Hun Sen, would return.

A strategy meeting was under way among members of Turkey's coalition government as a new showdown loomed with the military over Islamic fundamentalism. Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz is scheduled to confront senior commanders over the issue later this week. Last Friday, Yilmaz vowed to stay in power after a warning by the military that it would not be deterred in its self-appoint-ed mission to keep the country secular. The military forced Yilmaz's predecessor from office last year for refusing to curb Muslim activities.

Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Mexico announced a plan to jointly cut daily oil production by up to 2 million barrels, beginning immediately. It was not clear whether other members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries would follow suit. (Mexico is not a member.) The plan was a response to the current supply glut that has sent oil prices tumbling $7.40 a barrel on world markets since November.

No political party was expected to emerge with a majority in parliament after Moldova's elections. The Indiana-size republic is troubled by an economy that ranks as one of the weakest among former members of the Soviet Union and by lingering effects of a 1992 civil war in which Russian-speaking separatists in the Trans-Dniester region tried to declare independence.

Etceteras

"What an unbelievable achievement ... what a sensational effort!"

- University of Utah men's basketball coach Rick Majerus, after his team upset defending national champion Arizona to secure a place in this year's Final Four Saturday at San Antonio, Texas.

Those crusty Italians, whose country is the birthplace of pizza, have had their sensibilities offended by what's being done to the stuff: pineapple toppings, frozen supermarket brands, and the like. The National Standards Body (UNI) in Rome has decided it's time for an internationally recognized set of rules on how pizza should be made. Its criteria: fresh, plum-shaped San Marzano-type tomatoes; porcelain-white mozzarella cheese; virgin olive oil; sea salt; and dough that's been hand-kneaded only. Look for the UNI's new quality mark sometime in October.

Write-in candidates never win elections, right? Wrong. Just ask Donald Bishop. He is the mayor-elect of Prospect, a village of 312 people in central New York State - even though his name wasn't on last week's ballot and he didn't particularly want the job. He didn't want it because he's already a village trustee and being mayor "is a lot more work" for an annual salary of only $500. But by a margin of 36 to 10, he defeated incumbent Wayne Premo. For his part, Premo wasn't upset; he's also the fire chief.

The Day's List

Rating the Best Places to Relocate a Business

When the editors of Plants, Sites & Parks magazine asked its readers to name the cities they would choose if they wanted to start or relocate a business, Atlanta came out on top, based on such criteria as bond ratings, earnings, and the employment levels of various industries. Instead of ranking10 or more cities, the editors of the Coral Springs, Fla.-based publication stopped at nine because "they far outdistanced all the rest in the voting." The readers' choices:

1. Atlanta

2. Dallas

3. Chicago

4. Los Angeles

5. Nashville, Tenn.

6. Las Vegas

7. Phoenix

8. Houston

9. New York

- Price's List of Lists

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