News In Brief

The US

Top lawyers for Microsoft held last-minute talks with the Justice Department and at least 20 states in an attempt to forestall antitrust lawsuits planned against the company. Details of Microsoft's latest offer were not immediately clear, but a source familiar with the talks characterized them as "major concessions." As negotiations proceeded, Microsoft announced a delay in its planned shipment today of Windows 98 software to computer manufacturers.

Secretary of State Albright was to meet again with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu in an effort to advance stalled Mideast peace talks after initial discussions in Washington failed to produce a breakthrough. Meanwhile, the Israeli prime minister was expected to lobby against US proposals during appearances at a pro-Israeli think tank, before members of Congress, and at a meeting of the American Jewish Committee.

The US may have inadvertently shown India how to fool the CIA into missing clues that nuclear tests were on the way, officials said. One congressional official said the State Department,in particular, had a tendency to share satellite pictures to illustrate its points when the US successfully forestalled apparent preparations for nuclear testing in December 1995 and January 1996.

The House narrowly passed, 214 to 213, a bill that would allow banks to get into other lines of business. Similar legislation in the Senate has not come up for a vote. The White House has threatened to veto the measure, which would blur distinctions among banks, securities firms, and insurance companies.

A portion of the House campaign-finance inquiry will be transferred to a committee with a two-thirds GOP majority, House leaders said after Democrats on the Government Reform and Oversight Committee again blocked immunity for four potential witnesses. Rep. Dan Burton (R) of Indiana, the chairman of the panel, ignored calls to step aside and refused to allow a vote on a Democratic attempt to limit his powers.

The Senate Finance Committee was expected to rewrite sections of the tobacco bill drafted by John McCain (R) of Arizona and approved by the Commerce Committee last month. After a wrangle over jurisdiction that could have derailed a full-Senate tobacco debate set for Monday, the finance panel was given a day to modify the bill. Senators and staff members said they hoped to turn industry fees and assessments into a tax and earmark some of the money for tax cuts.

A state judge rebuffed an attempt by a New York district attorney to seize two paintings on loan from Vienna that may have been stolen by Nazis. The ruling means the Museum of Modern Art can return the two borrowed Egon Schiele paintings to the Leopold Foundation in Vienna, although the decision is subject to appeal.

Parents worried about teenage daughters should encourage them to play sports, a Women's Sports Foundation study indicated. It found teenage athletes less likely to get pregnant, having fewer sexual partners, postponing sex longer, and more likely to use contraceptives once sexually active. The data came from surveys involving some 11,000 girls in Grades 9 through 12.

Abuse of alcohol and other drugs costs the US more than $246 billion a year, a federal study indicated. The report came from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

A $2 billion subterranean nuclear-waste dump in New Mexico was licensed by the US Environmental Protection Agency. Shipments of radioactive defense waste can begin rolling into salt caverns at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad by mid-June, unless halted during a court fight promised by opponents raising safety and environmental concerns.

The World

With much of his capital in shambles from the worst rioting in three decades, Indonesian President Suharto was scheduled to arrive in Jakarta early today to face the massive outpouring of discontent over his 32-year rule. But analysts said Suharto's reported willingness to step down should not be taken seriously. Meanwhile, foreign-owned companies were ordering their employees home and the US and other nations warned against nonessential travel to Indonesia.

At least eight Palestinians were reported killed as a "million man march" to protest the anniversary of Israel's declaration of independence, turned violent. All of the deaths came in the Gaza Strip as Israeli troops fired in retaliation to stone-throwing and firebombs. The protests in Gaza as well as in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem also resulted in an estimated 150 Palestinian injuries and 11 more to Israeli police.

Just before leaving for Washington earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu held secret discussions with the opposition Labor Party about the possibility of early elections in the fall, Israel Radio reported. Analysts said such a scenario would be a way for him to escape the dilemma of alienating the US, whose pressure to yield 13 percent of the West Bank he has been resisting, or being forced from office if he capitulates. Netanyahu's office had no comment on the report.

Pakistan rejected appeals for restraint and told an international conference on disarmament that it needed a nuclear defense in the wake of rival India's test explosions this week. At the 61-nation meeting in Geneva, delegate Minir Akram held open the possibility of Pakistani tests, which The New York Times said it had learned could take place as soon as Sunday.

Britain, France, and Russia are expected to reject President Clinton's urgings at the Group of Eight summit that they join the US in imposing sanctions against India because of its nuclear tests. High on the agenda of the summit opening today in Birmingham, England, are the Asian economic crisis, international crime, and job-generation. But analysts said India, Indonesia, and the Kosovo crisis were likely to overshadow the planned discussions.

Amid a new controversy on Northern Ireland, British Prime Minister Blair was to visit Belfast for the second time this week to campaign for a "yes" vote on the new peace deal there. Sinn Fein, the political ally of the Irish Republican Army, blasted Blair's choice of the province's security chief as "minister for victims," calling it "disgraceful and insensitive" to survivors of Catholics killed in sectarian violence.

Suspicion fell on neo-Nazis for a bomb explosion that injured two people and heavily damaged a synagogue in Moscow. It occurred only minutes after 70 children and teachers had left the building. Prominent Communists attributed the blast to popular anger over new Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko, who is half-Jewish and has named several Jews to his government.

Sensing an opportunity to topple one of Mexico's allegedly most corrupt governors, opposition legislators in Cuerna-vaca opened impeachment hearings against Jorg Carrillo Olea of Morelos state. Carrillo postponed an announced indefinite leave of absence after his Institutional Revolutionary Party failed to name a replacement. In March, 94 percent of voters in a nonbinding referendum said he should quit after state police were caught trying to dispose of the remains of a kidnapping suspect they had tortured. Carrillo himself is accused of having ties to narcotics traffickers.

Etceteras

" He's said it before, and it's not to be taken seriously."

- Unidentified economic analyst in Indonesia, on reports that embattled President Suharto was willing to quit if he no longer had popular support.

Hale McGee walked off the set in a southern California TV studio after taping a program in which he declared crime was not a problem in the state's 41st District, from which he's seeking election to Congress. McGee, of the American Independent Party, and campaign manager Richard Bunck then pulled into a gas station in Ontario, the largest city in the district, to post a "McGee for Congress" sign. Up stepped two armed men, demanding money. They took $80 and fled. "I feel," said McGee, "like I have egg all over me."

In Indianapolis this weekend, time trials begin for the world's No. 1 automobile race: the Indy 500. This year's edition - the 82nd - apparently will perpetuate one of the more curious oddities in sports, a spokeswoman says. Although there are 33 entries per year, not once has a Smith - perhaps the most common of all surnames - driven in the race. There has been a Jones, a White, a Brown, and a Green. Also a Baker, Miller, Lewis (as well as a Clark), a Jackson, a Johnson, and a Wilson. There's even a Schindler on the list. But no Smith.

The Day's List

Projecting Populations of World's Biggest Nations

In an assessment of global trends, the Population Reference Bureau, a nonprofit Washington-based research group, has released projections of national populations in 2025. Russia is expected to lose the most population, from 147 million people now to 135 million in 2025 - dropping from sixth place to 10th among world leaders. The top 10 today and as projected for 2025:

1998 2025

1. China China

2. India India

3. US US

4. Indonesia Indonesia

5. Brazil Pakistan

6. Russia Brazil

7. Pakistan Nigeria

8. Japan Bangladesh

9. Bangladesh Mexico

10. Nigeria Russia

- Associated Press

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