News In Brief

The US

Californians voted to end the state's bilingual-education program, but rejected another ballot initiative that would have reduced the political clout of labor unions by requiring them to get members' approval before spending their dues for political purposes. In political races, Democratic Lt. Gov. Gray Davis and Republican Attorney General Dan Lungren won gubernatorial nominations - and former Gov. Jerry Brown won his bid to be mayor of Oakland.

Merrill Lynch & Co. agreed to pay $400 million to settle claims by Orange County, Calif., that the firm helped to push the county into bankruptcy in 1994. The proposed deal, which must be approved by a federal judge in Santa Ana, Calif., would conclude the county's $2 billion-plus lawsuit against the the nation's biggest brokerage company. The county has filed lawsuits against investment firms, financial advisers, and others in an attempt to recoup some $1.6 billion.

Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr asked the Supreme Court to consider in one urgent appeal his bid to force testimony from three Secret Service employees and the White House claim of lawyer-client privilege to prevent presidential counsel Bruce Lindsey from answering certain questions in the Monica Lewinsky probe. Starr's action came after the White House told the high court that the latter dispute should be heard by a lower court.

Monica Lewinsky hired a pair of defense lawyers: Jacob Stein and Plato Cacheris. They replace William Ginsburg, who was quoted as saying his high-profile representation of the former White House intern "didn't get me where I wanted to get, which was an immunity agreement."

US intelligence failed to warn of India's nuclear weapons tests because of leadership lapses, poor on-the-ground work, and failure to pay attention to spy-satellite photos that offered valuable clues, an independent review concluded. The panel, headed by retired Adm. David Jeremiah, said policymakers - had they been warned - probably would not have been able to dissuade India from conducting the weapons tests.

The space shuttle Discovery was scheduled to reach Mir today. Officials said the shuttle was leaking water and experiencing communications problems that could prevent transmission of TV images back to Earth - but this would not affect the docking with Mir. Discovery is expected to return to Earth June 12 with astronaut Andrew Thomas, who has completed a four-month stay on the Russian space station.

Tough new restrictions on firms that collect data about children without a parent's permission are likely to be recommended by the Federal Trade Commission, The Washington Post reported. The expected regulations would come as an increasing number of companies have been targeting children online, offering prizes and other rewards to those who share their names, ages, and family information.

Sen. John McCain tried to negotiate a compromise with foes of his tobacco bill, but reported no breakthrough. The Arizona Republican said after meeting with conservative members of his own party that he was open to a mutually acceptable tax cut - probably aimed at cutting the so-called marriage penalty - if it would help gain approval for the tobacco bill. The Senate resumed its tobacco debate this week after a weeklong recess, but it has not taken votes on major amendments.

A move by Senate lawmakers to cut hundreds of people from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's inspection staff would threaten the safety of US nuclear plants, NRC chairwoman Shirley Jackson said. Her warning came after an Appropriations subcommittee voted to remove 700 people from the NRC payroll over the next two years, including more than 500 who monitor nuclear power plants.

Tornadoes lashed the Pittsburgh area, killing at least two people and leaving some 50,000 others without power, local safety officials said. The National Weather Service said a total of 14 tornadoes had struck the southwestern region of the state.

The World

The World Bank postponed two more loans to India because of the latter's nuclear weapons tests. The move brings to more than $1 billion the amount being withheld as the New Delhi government unveiled its 1998-99 budget, calling for a sharp increase in spending on nuclear energy. In rival Pakistan, meanwhile, the government ordered new austerity measures to protect the fragile economy against sanctions from the US, Japan, and other sources because of its own nuclear tests.

Indonesians should focus on reform of the nation's economic and political systems and not the wealth amassed by former President Suharto, his successor said. B.J. Habibie told The New York Times and CNN he doesn't favor a probe of the ways Suharto and his family built huge businesses. As he spoke, however, an estimated 3,000 protesters in Jakarta demanded that Suharto be tried for corruption. Habibie also said it would be at least the end of 1999 before national elections for a new president could be held.

With almost 1.5 million people already out of work and analysts saying the economy has yet to hit bottom, South Korean voters today decide whether President Kim Dae Jung leaves for a US visit on a high or low note. The election is for thousands of local government posts, but is seen as a referendum on the wrenching reforms Kim has introduced since assuming office in February. He is due in Washington Sunday to begin a nine-day official visit.

Witnesses reported heavy fighting between troops of Ethiopia and Eritrea along a disputed section of their border. Artillery fire and mortar- shell explosions were heard, a Reuters correspondent said, and Eritrean forces could be seen rushing toward a town that straddles the border. Few other details could be independently confirmed.

Mexican police arrested two brothers accused of flooding the US with "synthetic" narcotics. Luis and Jesus Amezcua also were charged with money-laundering, and dozens of properties belonging to their methamphetamine cartel were seized. Their group was called Mexico's "fourth most important" drug-trafficking operation.

In a dramatic reversal of course, the Philippines government asked the Supreme Court to overturn ex-first lady Imelda Marcos's conviction on corruption charges and set aside her 12-year prison sentence. A justice official said the action does not affect other charges that she and her late husband enriched themselves at the expense of the economy. Critics called the move a step toward the political rehabilitation of the Marcos family.

A French railway union announced plans to join striking airline pilots in a walkout one day prior to the opening of the World Cup soccer tournament. The union is seeking higher pay for its members, who make up 30 percent of the nation's train drivers. Meanwhile, no progress was reported in the first round of negotiations between striking pilots and the management of Air France, the official carrier of the World Cup. Soccer's most prestigious tournament opens Wednesday.

Emergency crews in northern Germany worked to free people trapped after the derailment of the nation's fastest passenger train. Early reports said at least 70 people died and 200 others were hurt. The 175-m.p.h. train was approaching Eschede at the time of the accident. The incident was the most serious of its type in Germany since 1975.


" The unhappy fact is ... a president is under serious criminal investigation."

- Special prosecutor Kenneth Starr, asking the Supreme Court to bypass the normal appeals process and quickly resolve some legal wrangling in the Monica Lewinsky probe.

That was a pretty rich meal Henry Snowden drove off with from a Burger King franchise in Deltona, Fla. He and a companion were handed two takeout bags - one containing the usual sandwiches, French fries, and drinks and the other $4,170 in receipts from the day's sales. A manager had accidentally placed the second bag next to Snowden's order; receipts are not carried in bank-deposit bags in order to fool would-be robbers. Yes, he returned the money. No, the Burger King folks weren't able to hold back tears of gratitude.

The tournament he'd entered was about to start, and Mark Roff decided he should use some new golf balls. But the pro shop at the Indian Canyon course in Spokane, Wash., didn't have his favorite brand. So Roff settled for what was in stock. A good decision, as it turned out. He was already among the leaders when he arrived at the fourth tee. His drive landed in the cup - a hole-in-one, the first of his life. Then the same thing happened again at No. 11. The round went downhill from there, and he didn't win the tournament. But, not surprising, he now has a new favorite ball.

The Day's List

In Participation Sports, Walking Sets the Pace

A National Sporting Goods Association survey, based on 35,000 household samplings, indicates far more Americans participate in exercise walking than any other sport. A "participant" is defined as someone at least seven years old who plays a sport more than once a year or - in the case of swimming, exercise walking, bicycling, etc. - six or more times. The top 10 in 1997 and estimated participants (in millions):

1. Exercise walking 76.3

2. Swimming 59.5

3. Exercise with equipment 47.9

4. Camping 46.6

5. Bicycle riding 45.1

6. Bowling 44.8

7. Fishing 44.7

8. Billiards/pool 37.0

9. Basketball 30.7

10. Hiking 28.4

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