News In Brief

The US

President Clinton was to meet with the family of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., but the White House said he was reserving judgment on whether there should be a new inquiry into the assassination of the civil-rights leader. The family wants Clinton to create a commission - a panel modeled after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa - with power to grant amnesty and immunity from prosecution to those who come forward to tell what they know.

Clinton attacked a multimillion-dollar cigarette-industry ad campaign aimed at killing anti-smoking legislation in Congress, saying it may sound convincing but it isn't true. The industry has for weeks been running ads that say a tobacco bill proposed by Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona is a "half-trillion dollar" tax that will fall on moderate-income people. Majority leader Trent Lott has said he wants to bring the tobacco issue "to some conclusion" in the Senate this week.

The judge in the Monica Lewinsky inquiry summoned lawyers for a closed-door session after charges circulated that independent counsel Kenneth Starr had leaked information about the case. Prosecutors from Starr's office, White House counsel Charles Ruff, and Lewinsky's three lawyers were among those appearing at the meeting, in which Judge Norma Holloway Johnson presumably admonished them all not to disclose material related to the inquiry. Starr denied any wrongdoing.

House Democrats will try to force a vote on replenishing the International Monetary Fund, aides said. A spokeswoman for Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin said he would seek 218 signatures for a so-called discharge petition to get the bill to the House floor. Clinton wants to give the IMF nearly $18 billion to replace resources drained by multibillion-dollar Asian bailouts. The IMF package has already passed the Senate.

Stocks were slightly higher in early trading on Wall Street after losing 207 points Monday, which left the market at its lowest level in three months. The late-morning rebound came despite a second day of declines on Asian markets.

Consumer prices rose in May at their fastest pace in a year and a half as energy costs rebounded from a five-month slump, the Labor Department said. The consumer price index, rose 0.3 percent in May after a 0.2 percent rise in April. Stripping out volatile food and energy costs, the core index rose 0.2 percent after a 0.3 percent increase in April.

Construction starts on new homes and apartments fell 0.7 percent last month to the lowest level this year, the Commerce Department said. The report was in sharp contrast to economists' predictions of an increase in construction starts at a time of low interest rates.

Northern Telcom of Canada said it was buying Silicon Valley-based Bay Networks for $7.1 billion in the first merger of major producers of voice- and data-network technology. And Excel Communications Inc. agreed to be acquired for $3 billion by Teleglobe Inc. of Montreal in a deal that would create the fourth-largest US long-distance phone company. Dallas-based Excel currently ranks fifth among US long-distance phone companies.

Fans of country music pitched a shutout at such industry giants as Garth Brooks, George Strait, and Alan Jackson in voting for the 32nd annual Music City News awards presented before 11,000 people in Nashville, Tenn. Entertainer of the year honors went to Neal McCoy . Billy Ray Cyrus and Lorrie Morgan were chosen best male and female vocalist, respectively.

British au pair Louise Woodward was cleared to return home by the Massachusetts Supreme Court. On a 4-to-3 vote, it upheld a lower-court decision reducing her conviction last November for the death of an infant in her care from second-degree murder to manslaughter. Her prison sentence also was reduced to time already served, but she was ordered not to leave the state during the appeals process.

The World

Succumbing to international pressure to resolve the Kosovo conflict, Yugoslav President Milosevic agreed to negotiate with an Albanian separatist leader. The "breakthrough" came after talks in Moscow between Milosevic and Russian President Yeltsin. Meanwhile, Kosovo separatist leaders spelled out their conditions for a dialogue with Serb authorities, saying a cease-fire would depend on foreign mediation and the withdrawal of all security forces.

Relations between Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and one of his closest advisers were said to be strained after the latter called for early agreement on a troop pullback in the West Bank. Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai reportedly told a closed meeting that Israel "had no choice" but to carry out a redeployment and that such a decision needed to come within "another few days, maybe a week." Netanyahu told Israel Army Radio: "We don't point a pistol at our own forehead." He has consistently rejected US pressure to agree to a further 13.1 percent pullback.

A week after his appointment to the presidency of Nigeria, Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar ordered the immediate release of nine political prisoners. The move was seen as a signal that Abubakar was distancing himself from the policies of his predecessor, Sani Abacha. Not on the list, however, was leading dissident Mashood Abiola, despite a meeting between one of his wives and Abubakar.

Guinea-Bissau's capital was reportedly deserted, with more than half its 300,000 residents camped along the highway to neighboring Senegal as fighting between rebels and government troops entered its ninth day. The refugees lack sufficient food and water, the Red Cross said. Their flight also was complicated by heavy downpours as the rainy season began.

For the first time, communist North Korea admitted to exporting missiles and said if the US wanted such sales to stop it should compensate for the lost revenue. Although the buyers were not identified, experts suggested Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, and Syria were among them. They said North Korea began producing ballistic missiles with a 190-mile range in the early 1980s and had now graduated to developing weapons with a 2,400-mile range.

Indonesia's new military attorney general is to be sworn in today, after the surprise announcement that his civilian predecessor had been fired. Maj. Gen. Muhammad Ghalib succeeds Soedjono Chanafiah Atmonegoro, who had been named to the post only three months ago by ex-President Suharto. Analysts said the change was not likely to affect a previously announced probe of corruption during the Suharto regime.

Officials in Toulouse, France, were considering whether to cancel an annual music festival and close the city's bars early as they braced for the next game involving Britain in the World Cup soccer tournament. Britain is due to play Romania Monday, a week after hundreds of its fans fought with followers of Tunisia's team in Marseille. More than 50 injuries and almost 80 arrests were reported, with broken glass still to be cleaned from the streets in the city's Old Port section.

European Union heads of state were expected to end their summit in Cardiff, Wales, with a pledge to "humanize" the grouping and bring it "closer to the people" while conceding attempts to overhaul its finances had stalled. The leaders scheduled a follow-up meeting in Austria in October to try to kick-start the process of changing to a single currency and accepting Cyprus and 10 Eastern European nations as members.

Etceteras

" It will help give new meaning - and global reach - to protecting the vulnerable

and innocent."

- Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy, on the merits of the proposed new international criminal court.

Remember Dave Weinlick? He's the Minneapolis anthropology student cited in this space last week who agreed to let a committee decide, from a lineup of registered candidates, which would become his bride - a choice that wasn't even to be made until the day of the wedding. If all went well, the couple would take part in a mock ceremony immediately, with actual nuptials probably following later. All seems to have gone well indeed. The committee's choice, Elizabeth Runze, and Weinlick clicked right away and now really are hitched .

In the New York borough of Manhattan last week, a police stakeout of a Dunkin' Donuts outlet worked perfectly. The cops caught the robbery suspect they were looking for - in the act. His name: Duncan.

The Day's List

'Truman Show' Is Tops at Box Office Once Again

Following word that "Titanic" would be released on video Sept. 1, the epic finally appeared likely to fall from the weekly top 10 movie rankings, but it managed to hang on at No. 10. Meanwhile, "The Truman Show" held off a challenge from the debut of Harrison Ford's "Six Days, Seven Nights" to remain atop the list of attractions for a second straight week. Grosses (in millions) for the top movies at North American theaters June 12-14:

1. "The Truman Show" $20.0

2. "Six Days Seven Nights" 16.5

3. "A Perfect Murder" 11.3

4. "Can't Hardly Wait" 8.0

5. "Godzilla" 6.2

6. "Hope Floats" 5.3

7. "Deep Impact" 4.4

8. "The Horse Whisperer" 3.9

9. "Dirty Work" 3.6

10. "Titanic" 1.2

- Exhibitor Relations Inc./AP

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