News In Brief

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The US

Deploring Pakistan's nuclear tests, President Clinton said the US had no choice but to impose sanctions. He urged both India and Pakistan to "reverse the dangerous arms race." The president failed in a telephone call just before midnight Wednesday to persuade Pakistan's leaders not to match India in conducting nuclear explosions.

The US economy expanded at a rapid 4.8 percent annual rate in the first quarter, but corporations suffered their second consecutive quarterly decline in profits, the Commerce Department reported. The seasonally adjusted rise in the gross domestic product was even better than last month's advance estimate of 4.2 percent. Corporate profits fell 2.2 percent from the previous quarter. Meanwhile, strong demand for commercial aircraft sent orders for costly manufactured goods soaring in April - up 2.6 percent, the highest rate in five months.

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

The decline of the two-parent US family is apparently continuing - registering nearly a 4 percent fall from 1990 to 1997, new Census Bureau figures showed. By March 1997, the latest date for which statistics are available, 72.4 percent of families with children under 18 had two parents in the household. Mothers ran 22.7 percent of the other families, and fathers managed 4.9 percent. In 1950, 92.6 percent of families with young children were run by couples - but by 1990 that figure was down to 76 percent.

Public approval of Clinton's performance as president rose slightly in May, despite numerous controversies. Clinton's approval rating rose to 56.1 percent from 55.5 percent in April, the highest rating since January, when his job-performance was approved by a record 62.3 percent. The poll of 969 adults was conducted from May 17 to 19 by the private firm Zogby International.

A majority of Americans - and more than half of all gun owners - want stricter control laws, a new poll indicated. The Louis Harris survey found 69 percent of adults favoring "stricter gun control," compared to 23 percent favoring less control. Among gun owners, 57 percent wanted tighter laws and 32 percent fewer restrictions. Seventy-six percent of all respondents favored more restrictions on handguns.

Michael Fortier, the key witness in the Oklahoma City bombing case, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for lying to the FBI and not warning authorities about the plot, which resulted in 168 deaths. Fortier could have received a maximum prison sentence of 23 years.

Two members of the anti-government Montana Freemen entered surprise guilty pleas, as leaders of the group went on trial. Most of the 14 defendants - charged with conspiracy, bank fraud, armed robbery, and other crimes - boycotted the proceedings, watching them instead on closed-circuit TV.

Americans gave $143.46 billion to charities in 1997, an increase of 7.5 percent from 1996, the American Association of Fund-Raising Counsel's Trust for Philanthropy reported. Adjusted for inflation, the increase was 5.1 percent. The 1997 rise followed a similar increase in 1996. There was little or no growth in charitable giving in the early 1990s.

The US will subsidize exports of feed barley to European Union-dominated markets to protest a controversial EU shipment to California, Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman announced. He said the US would subsidize 30,000 metric tons of feed barley headed for Algeria, Cyprus, and Norway. The shipment will precisely match an unusual EU-subsidized barley export to California that angered US growers.

Surplus uranium from US and Russian defense programs could supply about 20 percent of the fuel for the world's nuclear power plants, the US Energy Information Administration reported. It said US nuclear plants will be able to buy the surplus uranium cheaper than newly produced uranium, which could save them from $2.1 billion to $5.3 billion through 2010.

The World

As expected, Pakistan responded to India's recent nuclear-weapons tests by detonating five devices of its own. An official statement said preparations also were under way to arm the country's Ghuari missiles, capable of reaching targets in India, with nuclear warheads. In an address, Prime Minister Sharif said Pakistanis should prepare for increasingly difficult times. He warned of the likelihood of new economic sanctions on top of those already in place because of the nuclear program.

Reaction to the Pakistani tests was harsh. The European Union called them "dismaying" and said sanctions would be "urgently considered." In Beijing, the Foreign Ministry said China was "deeply concerned and uneasy." Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee called the tests "vindication" of his government's nuclear policy. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan "deplored" both sets of tests and said they exacerbated tensions.

Saying Russia's financial markets "will not collapse," President Yeltsin sought to reassure investors that he would not devalue the ruble or allow the country's economic crisis to spiral out of control. An aide said Russia had not asked the International Monetary Fund "or anyone else" for help, but acknowledged that new loans could "ease the situation very quickly."

Anti-government violence - the first since President Suharto resigned last week - erupted in Indonesia. Police were patroling in force after shops, cars, and other targets were set on fire in the Sumatra island city of Tanjungbalai. Witnesses said the trouble broke out because of rumors that a Chinese motorist had struck and killed a pedestrian. At least 170 arrests and nine injuries were report-ed. In Jakarta, the capital, government sources said national elections - promised by new President B.J. Habibie - would likely be held next year, after political reforms were enacted.

Thousands of bureaucrats, shopkeepers, and men from other walks of life - veterans of Eritrea's long war for independence - were mobilized for the increasingly tense border confrontation with Ethiopia. Independence anniversary celebrations earlier this week were overshadowed by Ethiopia's warning that it would use force to oust Eritrean troops from a disputed 160-square-mile zone. Weeks of mediation efforts by the US and other governments have failed to end the conflict.

Seeking revenge for their ouster from power, troops of Sierra Leone's former military junta are conducting a campaign of terror against defenseless villagers, a UN aid official said. He noted hospitals in the capital, Freetown, and in the city of Makeni had reported more than 300 atrocities in the past month. Sierra Leone's elected civilian government was restored by a Nigerian-led intervention force in February.

Late opinion polls in Colombia gave opposition candidate Andres Pastrana a wide lead in his bid to win the presidency in Sunday's election. The former Bogot mayor was narrowly beaten for the office in 1994 by incumbent Ernesto Samper. The scandal-tainted Samper has endorsed Interior Minister Horacio Serpa. But analysts said Serpa might even finish third, behind ex-Foreign Minister Noemi Sanin, who seeks to become the country's first woman head of state.

Despite the endorsement of disgraced former President Abdala Bucaram, business tycoon Alvaro Noboa was surging in opinion polls as campaigning ended for Sunday's election in Ecuador. He still trailed Quito Mayor Jamil Mahuad, and analysts said neither might win enough votes to avert a July 12 runoff. Interim President Fabian Alarcn, who succeeded Bucaram when the latter was ousted last year for incompetence, is not a candidate.

Etceteras

" As we approach the new century, we should be asking how best to preserve life ...

not how to become more destructive."

- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a statement deploring both Pakistan's and India's nuclear weapons tests.

Richard Williams thought it would be a blast to fix turkey for dinner. So the Madison, Wis., resident preheated his oven, slid the bird in to roast, then adjourned to another room to relax. Like a shot, however, he awoke from his nap at what sounded like a gun going off. In fact, it was a gun - his service revolver. Williams, who is Madison's police chief, forgot that he'd left the weapon in the oven, one of several hiding places he uses in case a burglar should break into his home. No injuries, but Williams suspended himself one day without pay for violating his department's firearms policy.

Matthias Sunefjord left his house in southern Sweden, intending to use his car for an errand. But the car had been stolen in the night, along with its contents - a snowboard, fishing gear, some videotapes, and unemployment compensation claim forms. Sunefjord, you see, is out of work. Two days later, he received a letter from the anonymous thief, apologizing for the deed and asking forgiveness. It mentioned nothing about returning the car or the other contents. But it did have one attachment: the claim forms.

The Day's List

Californians Lead Way In Shopping via Internet

Viaweb, a leading supplier of online-store software, has analyzed shipping addresses on 276,392 orders placed with 859 companies selling goods on the Internet in an effort to determine where most of the orders came from. The study by the Cambridge, Mass.,-based company shows Californians were by far the most frequent purchasers over the past two years. The Viaweb top-10 rankings and the percentage of orders from each state:

California 10.1%

New York 5.6%

Texas 4.4%

Massachusetts 3.6%

Florida 3.5%

(tie) New Jersey 3.5%

Pennsylvania 3.4%

Illinois 3.1%

Ohio 2.4%

Michigan 2.3%

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