News In Brief

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The US

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu today in Washington in an effort to overcome Israel's rejection of US terms for Mideast peace talks, the White House said. Officials said those terms - including an Israeli pullback from 13 percent of the West Bank - had not changed. Albright was also scheduled to lay out details of American Mideast peace policy in a speech at the National Press Club.

President Clinton was to fly to Germany, where he will celebrate today's 50th anniversary of the Berlin airlift and meet with Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Tomorrow he is to attend an economic summit in Birmingham, England, that will include Russian President Yeltsin and the leaders of Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, and Japan. Before leaving Washington, Clinton proposed a series of measures to help control the threats of terrorism, drug trafficking, illegal immigration, and money laundering - subjects high on his summit agenda.

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Attorney General Janet Reno said an independent counsel should investigate Labor Secretary Alexis Herman. It was the seventh time Reno had asked for an outside counsel to investigate alleged high - level wrongdoing in the Clinton administration. Reno said a special US Court of Appeals panel should select counsel to inquire into an alleged scheme to sell Herman's influence and into whether Herman directed or solicited illegal campaign contributions from a close friend when she was a White House aide during the first Clinton term. Herman said she was "baffled" by the decision.

Clinton said India's surprise nuclear tests threatened regional stability, and he urged New Delhi to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. US officials appealed to Pakistan to show restraint, following India's tests. Paul Levanthal, president of the Nuclear Control Institute, said the Indian tests were "sure to trigger one or more" tests by Pakistan. Meanwhile, National Security Adviser Sandy Berger seemed to rule out canceling the president's planned trip to India and Pakistan later this year.

Jonathan Pollard expressed gratitude that Israel had finally recognized him as an espionage agent. From his prison cell in North Carolina, Pollard said he hoped the acknowledgment, 13 years after his arrest for giving away US secrets, would help him win early release from a life sentence. Pollard's wife, Esther, has said the former naval analyst gave Israel information in the 1980s about an arms buildup in Arab countries.

The Postal Rate Commission approved a 1-cent increase in the cost of a first-class stamp. The Postal Service, which has enjoyed three years of billion-dollar profits, began charging 32 cents for a first-class letter Jan. 1, 1995, following a year in which it lost nearly $1 billion. Setting a date for the new rates to take effect is up to the agency's governing board, which next meets in June.

Consumer groups and competitors pledged to fight the proposed SBC Communications-Ameritech Corp. merger. Gene Kimmelman, co-director of Consumer Union's Washington office, called the merger "extremely dangerous." Federal Communications Commission chairman Bill Kennard said his agency would look closely at the stock-swap deal, which would make Ameritech the second Baby Bell rival to be bought by SBC in two years.

Gov. George W. Bush (R) of Texas held an edge over Vice President Al Gore in a USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll looking ahead to the 2000 presidential election. Fifty percent of those surveyed favored Bush, to 46 percent for Gore. Gore was favored by 51 percent of Democrats, followed by 12 percent for Jesse Jackson. Bush led Republicans with 30 percent, followed by Elizabeth Dole with 14 percent.

A costly missile-defense system failed a fifth straight flight test when a booster rocket misfired in New Mexico, a Pentagon official said. The Theater High-Altitude Area Defense system, built by Lockheed Martin, is designed to protect troops from short- and medium-range missiles.

The World

Indians exulted in their government's first nuclear weapons tests in 24 years, but reaction from around the world was swift and negative. The US said it would lodge a formal protest. China called the tests detrimental to peace and stability in the region. Russia called for international diplomatic pressure to reverse India's nuclear policy. Japan and Germany either canceled aid talks or threatened economic sanctions against the New Delhi government.

Leaders of rival Pakistan said their response to India's nuclear tests would not be dictated by other countries. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif refused to indicate whether his government would conduct its own test explosions. But Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub said Pakistan "will maintain a balance with India in all fields."

Four antigovernment protesters died and at least a dozen others were hurt as riot police fired into their demonstration in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta. It was not immediately clear whether plastic bullets or live ammunition was used. Similar tactics were used in Bandung, Kupang, and other cities as students resumed, after a holiday break, their demands for President Suharto to quit.

Britain's treasury chief announced a $350 million investment program for Northern Ireland. But Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown denied it was a "bribe" to encourage a "yes" vote by Protestants in next week's referendum on the province's new peace plan.

A hoped-for boost to German Chancellor Kohl's reelection prospects was denied when all six of the country's leading "think tanks" issued a gloomy unemployment forecast over the next year. Earlier predictions of 2.8 percent growth in gross domestic product also were lowered to 2.6 percent. Kohl's bid for a fifth term has been undercut by record joblessness. He trails opposition candidate Gerhard Schroeder in most opinion polls.

Philippines Vice President Joseph Estrada appeared headed for an easy victory in his bid for the nation's top office, exit polls showed. But President Fidel Ramos, whose hand-picked candidate was running second, refused to concede an Estrada victory. Hand-counting of ballots ensured that final results would not be available for up to two weeks.

British Columbia leaders reacted angrily to a leaked federal report that appeared to undermine Canada's position in sensitive salmon-treaty negotiations with the US. The report, prepared by government advisers, says Canada may have to accept watered-down terms on allocating the harvest because too little time remains until this year's fishing season, which opens next month. British Columbia Premier Glen Clark called the report a betrayal. Treaty talks opened yesterday in Portland, Ore.

Paraguay's Colorado Party was assured of maintaining its half-century grip on power as candidate Raul Cubas claimed victory in last weekend's presidential election. Cubas was holding a 54 percent to 42 percent lead over Domingo Laino as vote-counting neared completion. It was Laino's third unsuccessful bid for the office.

Unidentified gunmen followed through on death threats against Turkey's leading human rights activist. Akin Birdal was critically wounded in his office in the capital, Ankara, and was undergoing surgery. He had stood trial several times on charges of assisting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party. Fellow activists said the attack was intended to silence opponents of government policy.

Etceteras

": As soon as we do, we should be ready to see the United States coming down on us like a ton of bricks."

- Ex-Foreign Secretary Tanveer Ahmed Khan, warning of the consequences if Pakistan conducts its own nuclear tests.

Karen Herbert is proud of New Zealand's tourist attractions; she just doesn't like having one in her own front yard. Last weekend, the Rotorua resident, who lives three blocks from a geothermal park, discovered a geyser opening on the lawn. Soon it was sending boiling water, mud, and rocks 40 feet into the air. No damage to the house so far, but there's a bubbling pool six feet wide and sightseers are coming from far and wide to gawk at it. The man who mows the lawn refuses to return, she says, adding: "I'm looking for somewhere else to live."

There was disruption, too, in Fairhaven, Mass., as emergency crews pulled up to the McGann Terrace senior citizens home and ordered everyone outside. Was there a fire? Maybe a leaky gas main? Neither. In a dresser drawer one of the residents had found a hand grenade that her late husband brought back from World War II as a souvenir - and its safety pin was gone. A highway department truck took the thing to a local landfill, where state police explosives experts detonated it.

'Deep Impact' Registers Impressive Numbers

"Deep Impact" had no trouble making itself felt at the box office, grossing more than the combined earnings of its nine closest weekend competitors and bringing in about nine times as much as "City of Angels," which was second in earnings. The comet-vs.-Earth disaster movie - starring Tea Leoni, Robert Duvall, and special effects - proved attractive despite poor reviews. Grosses for films with highest box-office take at North American theaters May 10-12 (in millions):

1. "Deep Impact" $41.2

2. "City of Angels" 4.7

3. "He Got Game" 3.7

4. "Titanic" 3.2

5. "Les Miserables" 2.8

6. "Paulie" 2.6

7. "Woo" 2.5

8. "The Big Hit" 2.3

9. "Black Dog" 2.2

10. "The Object of My Affection" 2.1

- Exhibitor Relations Inc./AP

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