News In Brief

The US

The US shifted policy and joined an effort to bolster the Japanese economy - selling an estimated $2 billion to defend the value of the yen. It was the first time in four years that the Treasury Department had intervened in the market to support the Japanese currency. In early New York trading, the dollar fell sharply against the yen, which had fallen to its lowest level against the US dollar in eight years.

President Clinton's trip to China may bring an accord with Beijing to stop aiming missiles at US cities, the Defense Department said. A Pentagon spokesman acknowledged that Chinese missiles could be quickly retargeted, but said such an action would nevertheless reduce the "hair-trigger aspect of the strategic nuclear arsenal." China reportedly has 18 long-range missiles.

Creation of a select House panel to investigate whether national security was breached during US satellite launches on Chinese rockets was approved by the Rules Committee. The proposed panel would also probe whether campaign donations influenced Clinton's decision to allow exports of satellite technology to China. The Senate has already begun its probe of these issues.

A leading Chinese dissident called Clinton's China visit a mistake. Wei Jingsheng said the trip, scheduled to begin next Thursday, shows the US is "no longer concerned" about human rights in China. Jingsheng was freed in November by the Chinese government after spending 18 years in prison for advocating democracy.

The White House characterized as "backward" comments by Senate majority leader Trent Lott that homosexuality is a sinful "lifestyle" and comparable to alcoholism. Lott had made the remarks on a conservative cable-TV talk show. Meanwhile, several senators used the controversy to push for a Senate vote on the stalled ambassadorial nomination of philanthropist James Hormel. Citing Hormel's homosexuality, Lott has opposed his nomination to be ambassador to Luxembourg.

Clinton ordered his Cabinet to find ways to put more police officers in schools before classes resume in the fall. Reacting to a series of school shootings, the president announced the step at a White House ceremony in which he signed legislation to help buy bulletproof vests for local police officers and provide counseling for families of officers killed in the line of duty.

Three charges against former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy were reinstated by a federal appeals court. The charges, part of a 39-count indictment, allege that Espy accepted $4,221 in gifts from Tyson's Foods and Quaker Oats while he was agriculture secretary during Clinton's first term. The appeals court also upheld a lower-court decision to throw out a charge that Espy lied to US investigators about accepting gratuities. The trial is to begin Oct 1.

Strikes were said to have halted more than 70 percent of General Motors production of its very profitable pickup and sport-utility fleet. As talks continued over a United Auto Workers walkout at two GM plants in Flint, Mich., the company shut down - for lack of parts - a Shreveport, La., assembly plant that makes compact Chevrolet, GMC, and Isuzu pickups. More than 71,000 GM workers at more than 90 GM plants have been idled by the strike.

The Ku Klux Klan won permission to rally in Jasper, Texas, where last week a black man was chained to the back of a pickup truck and dragged to his death by suspected white supremacists. The Klan will march for two hours June 27, county officials said.

A New York playwright accused Paramount Pictures of stealing ideas from his 1992 off-off-Broadway play to make the movie "The Truman Show." Mark Dunn, author of "Frank's Story," filed the lawsuit in federal court in New York. His lawyer said Dunn would seek 100 percent of the hit film's proceeds.

The World

NATO leaders said they were both pleased and disappointed at the signals being sent by Yugoslav President Milosevic on Kosovo. They said the alliance would continue planning for intervention in the province despite Milosevic's promises not to engage in repression against Albanian separatists and to negotiate without interruption on some form of autonomy with separatist leaders. But Milosevic also refused to withdraw or even reduce his forces there, and one NATO official said his "track record" on keeping promises is not good.

Despite US intervention to support the slumping yen, Japanese officials were irritated at the impending visit of Deputy Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers. He was expected to repeat demands that Japan quicken the pace of its $117 billion plan to stimulate a stagnant economy. Summers's visit, beginning today, comes as campaigning opens for critical July 12 elections to parliament, in which the stimulus plan is likely to be a central issue.

China announced it would regulate the export of nuclear equipment and technology with dual civilian and military uses, effective immediately. The revelations came a week before President Clinton's scheduled arrival in Beijing for a nine-day official visit.

The US dismayed human rights groups by demanding strict limits on the new world criminal court's ability to prosecute. Ambassador to the UN Bill Richardson told negotiators meeting in Rome that the organization must not have the authority to trigger prosecutions. This power should rest with the Security Council, he argued - otherwise, the court could become "politicized." Human Rights Watch condemned the stance - which contrasts sharply with that of most European Union nations and Canada - as "shameful."

Amid new mass protests in Indonesia for sweeping government reforms, President B.J. Habibie pleaded for patience. Reform "takes time," he told students in Jakarta, responding to calls for his resignation and immediate elections. In East Timor, thousands protest-ed the death of a youth they said was killed by Indonesian soldiers. Another 250 demanded a referendum - ruled out by Habibie - to decide their troubled territory's future.

The border conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia is "worsening by the day" despite a mutually agreed moratorium on air strikes, the latter's foreign ministry said. No new fighting was reported, but Eritrea continues to refuse to withdraw troops from disputed areas, a step Ethiopia says is necessary before peace talks can begin.

Australia's Queensland state was awash with rumors that Asian investors were preparing to pull out after the impressive electoral debut of anti-Asian politician Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party. Last weekend, Queenslanders gave One Nation almost a quarter of the vote in a key state election. One Taiwanese firm reportedly was considering leaving the state, although company officials said they knew of no such move.

Moving to restore stability after their government's collapse last year, Czech Republic voters will choose a new parliament Sunday. But late opinion polls showed no current alliance was likely to win a majority. After a political funding scandal, economic slowdown and currency crisis, the center-right minority government fell late last year. The Communists and ultra-right Republicans were favored to win about 20 percent of the vote, but other major parties were believed to consider them untouchable as coalition partners.

Etceteras

" He is beginning to bend .... But there are areas in which we are disappointed

[and] there are several ambiguities."

- A NATO spokesman, on Yugoslav President Milosevic's agreement to negotiate an end to the Kosovo crisis.

Sportscasters like to refer to the "explosive potential" of teams with exceptional ability. Until recently, that could have been said about Westfalen Stadium in Dortmund, Germany, as well. The 53,000-seat arena, where fans have thrilled to the exploits of the Borussia Dortmund soccer team since 1971, regularly sells out. But this week workers - digging up the turf to install a heating system - found a live 1,000-pound bomb three feet under midfield. The device, apparently dropped on the city in World War II, was safely defused by experts.

You've heard the expression, "Due to lack of interest, tomorrow has been canceled"? Now that applies to the yearbook for the University of Vermont's class of 1998 too. For the first time in more than 100 years, no students came forward to produce it. Not that there weren't hints this might happen. The 1997 edition only came out this spring, and sold roughly half of the 500 copies. UVM has an undergraduate enrollment of 7,200, plus another 2,000 or so master's degree and PhD candidates.

The Day's List

Vacation Sites Where You Will Spend Most, Least

Hawaii is the costliest place in the US for families to visit this summer, according to the American Automobile Association. On the other hand, if you want to save as much hard-earned cash as possible, you may want to head for North Dakota. The AAA's five most-expensive and five least-expensive states to vacation in, with estimated daily-meal and accommodation costs for two adults and two children:

Most Expensive

Hawaii $383

New York 330

Massachusetts 300

Louisiana 284

New Jersey 268

Least Expensive

North Dakota $131

South Dakota 138

Nebraska 145

Kansas 152

Iowa 155

- Associated Press

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