News In Brief

The US

Antitrust action was expected today against Microsoft, after talks with government officials broke down over the weekend. Twenty states and the US Justice Department are accusing Microsoft of unfairly driving competitors from the software market. The company says it is giving consumers the best operating systems possible by integrating features like its Explorer Web browser into Windows 98 software.

In advance of debate today over historic tobacco legislation in the Senate, its Finance Committee voted to increase the bill's cigarette tax from $1.10 to $1.50 a pack. The tax increase was to be offered as an amendment to the massive bill drafted by Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona.

The White House insisted US policy toward China was not influenced by political contributions. The Justice Department has reportedly opened a preliminary inquiry into whether political donations influenced a Clinton decision in 1996 to approve the export of satellite technology to China. Sources familiar with a recent FBI briefing say California businessman Johnny Chung claims he received $300,000 from Chinese aerospace official Liu Chao-ying, an Army lieutenant colonel. Chung pleaded guilty in March to charges he made illegal gifts to Clinton's reelection campaign.

A three-judge panel dismissed an appeal claiming Monica Lewinsky has an immunity deal with independent counsel Kenneth Starr. The ruling did not address the merits of her claim, but simply said appellate review could not take place until after conviction and sentencing. It noted Lewinsky, a target of Starr's probe of President Clinton, "has not been indicted, let alone tried and convicted."

In a book written before his death, convicted felon James McDougal claimed he gave Clinton $2,000-a-month payoffs in the 1980s when Clinton was governor of Arkansas. A Clinton lawyer branded as "scurrilous falsehoods" this and other accusations in the book, "Arkansas Mischief." McDougal, a former business partner of the Clintons, died in prison in March.

US officials were trying to pick up the pieces of stalemated Mideast peace talks. A summit Clinton had hoped to hold today for Israeli and Palestinian leaders was canceled after Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu refused to accept US proposals for a 13.1 percent pullback from the West Bank as a basis for the talks.

Japan pledged to cut red tape for imports in key economic sectors. US Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky said the move would open up billions of dollars worth of opportunities for American exporters, but more effort was needed to open up the Japanese economy. The new accord will affect the telecommunications, housing, medical, and financial-services markets.

Efforts to renew the US- Canadian Pacific Salmon Treaty fell short, as negotiators in Portland, Ore., failed to resolve longstanding differences. The treaty has not been renewed since 1992. Interim fishing rules are expected to be adopted before commercial fishing begins again in July.

Fewer doctors are supporting the idea of physician-assisted suicide, a study published by the American Society of Clinical Oncology indicated. It said only 22 percent of responding oncologists supported such suicides in a recent poll, compared to 45 percent three years ago. The new study polled 3,200 physicians.

Frank Sinatra, who died in Los Angeles, leaves behind a stage and screen legacy rarely rivaled in length, breath, or depth. As a singer, he enthralled audiences from the big-band era to the 1990s with such signature tunes as "My Way," "New York, New York," and "Strangers in the Night." As a movie star, he won an Academy Award in 1953 for his supporting role in "From Here to Eternity."

The World

Indonesia's military chief appealed via television for students to cancel today's planned street demonstrations in the capital, Jakarta, after rioting that killed a reported 500 people, caused massive damage, and sent thousands of foreigners out of the country via hastily arranged airlifts. But a Muslim opposition leader vow-ed to call nationwide demonstrations Wednesday demanding that President Suharto resign.

Its underground nuclear tests complete, India now is working on perfecting missiles capable of delivering such weapons, the government's senior scientist said. Meanwhile, rival Pakistan's foreign minister said "it's a matter of when, not if" his government would explode its own nuclear devices.

President Clinton called a statement that "individual countries will have their own individual responses" to India's nuclear tests the strongest that could be obtained from leaders of the Group of Eight as they ended their annual summit. Meeting in Birmingham, England, they appealed to Pakistan not to match last week's Indian tests. But Pakistan said it would do so anyway. Critics also noted Clinton's decision not to press other leaders for joint sanctions against India, allowing Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrtien to take the lead in that effort. It failed.

In a show of solidarity, Clinton joined the prime ministers of Britain and Ireland in appealing for a "yes" vote Friday on the new Northern Ireland peace accord. Via a joint BBC interview, they sought to reverse what opinion polls show is a growing swing against the deal by Protestants. Meanwhile, a car bomb was defused outside a police barracks in Armagh. A telephoned warning claimed the device was planted by a breakaway faction of the Irish Republican Army.

Only two of the 16 African heads of state invited to self-declared President Laurent Kabila's first anniversary celebration in Congo (formerly Zaire) had showed up as the Monitor went to press. A government source blamed "serious differences" between Kabila and regional allies who helped him topple dictator Mobutu Sese Seko last May. A conference on security and development timed to coincide with the anniversary was canceled.

With the first face-to-face discussions between Yugoslav President Milosevic and the leader of Albanian separatists in Kosovo accomplishing little, weekend skirmishes in the troubled province kept streets and highways virtually desert-ed. Under US pressure, Milosevic and Ibrahim Rugova discussed an early end to the crisis. But they agreed only to set up working groups that would study related issues and meet weekly.

Early election returns in the Dominican Republic appeared to indicate that President Leonel Fernandez would be denied a long-sought majority in at least one house of Congress. His Party of Democratic Liberation trailed far behind the opposition Dominican Revolutionary Party both in the percentage of the vote and in the number of seats won in the Senate. Voter turnout, partly because of rain, was lower than expected.

After winning an election that

Tamil separatists had tried to prevent through intimidation and then refusing the protection of bodyguards, the mayor of Sri Lanka's largest northern city was assassinated. Sarojini Yogeshwaran, who was shot in her own home in Jaffna by suspected rebels, had been in office only since January. Jaffna is virtually cut off from the rest of the country by separatist rebel forces.

Etceteras

" A president who should be going there at the top of his game ... is a little less persuasive than he otherwise would be."

- Former US summit planner Robert Hormats, on President Clinton's performance at the G-8 meetings in England.

As far as the law in Minnesota is concerned, it's an open-and-shut case: Charles Flinn Jr. and Elizabeth Hayden are free to marry - provided they continue to live 65 miles apart. No, neither of them is in prison. Both, however, are sitting judges, and a statute requires that they reside in the districts they represent. For Flinn, that means Ramsey County; for the bride-to-be, Stearns County. After their wedding trip, they'll see each other at what you might call judicious intervals.

Commercial messages that are truly moving could soon be coming to the upstate New York town of Rotterdam. With a population of only about 21,000 as a tax base, the Schenectady suburb is looking for a way to raise more money to maintain its fleet of official vehicles. Solution: a proposal to sell advertising space on police cruisers. No conflicts of interest, however, the proposal states, meaning that taverns and massage parlors need not apply.

The Day's List

National Writers Group Presents 1998 Awards

PEN, the national association of literary writers, presented awards to 10 winners of its 1998 book awards at a ceremony in New York late last week. Half the prizes were lifetime-achievement awards; the others were for outstanding books published in 1997:

Career Achievement

Arthur Miller, playwright

Richard Greenberg, playwright

C.K. Williams, poet

Johannes Wilbert, editor/translator

Minna Proctor, translator

Books Published Last Year

Peter Constantine, translation award for "Six Early Stories" by Thomas Mann

Eamon Grennan, translation award for "Selected Poems" by Giacomo Leopardi

Adam Hochschild, essay award for "Finding the Trapdoor"

Peter Balakian, memoir award for "Black Dog of Fate"

Serge Schmemann, nonfiction award for "Echoes of a Native Land"

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