News In Brief

By , Cynthia Hanson, and Caryn Coatney

The US

Democratic Party contributor Johnny Chung told Justice Department investigators that then-Democratic National Committee finance director Richard Sullivan knowingly solicited and accepted improper donations from him, the Post also reported. Quoting sources familiar with his account, it reported that Chung, during a plea-bargain deal, said Sullivan personally asked him for $125,000 in April 1995. Sullivan accepted the money despite previously voiced suspicions that Chung was acting as a conduit for illegal contributions from Chinese business executives, the sources added. Sullivan denies Chung's account.

House Speaker Newt Gingrich plans to meet with Senate majority leader Trent Lott today to discuss proposed funding for the millennium computer problem. Earlier, Gingrich announced during a birthday celebration at Zoo Atlanta that Republicans will seek at least $4 billion in emergency spending to solve the problem. Many computers that recognize only the last two digits of a year are expected to fail or malfunction Jan. 1, 2000, because they will read the date as 1900.

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Monica Lewinsky's new legal team offered to have her testify that she had sexual relations with President Clinton, The Washington Post reported. But independent counsel Kenneth Starr wants her to plead guilty to some offense as part of any agreement, the Post said, quoting lawyers close to the talks. Meanwhile, two hours of previously undisclosed recordings of conversations between Lewinsky and Linda Tripp depict the former White House intern as infatuated with Clinton and, at one point, angry with him for avoiding her, according to U.S. News & World Report.

The identities of the people who bombed an apartment complex in Saudi Arabia in 1996, killing 19 American military personnel, may never be uncovered, The New York Times reported. It said mistrust on both sides has caused the investigation of the incident to "collapse." The Times said the FBI has withdrawn all but one of the dozens of agents sent to probe the attack. Agents have been denied permission to review evidence or to interrogate suspects, the report said, while Saudi officials have complained of American "high-handedness." The FBI would neither confirm nor deny the report.

Negotiators failed to reach agreement in a General Motors Corp. strike involving about 9,200 workers in Flint, Mich. The strike has idled 88 percent of the company's North American production.

Clinton applauded the success of the Brady gun-control law, but said it should be expanded to keep guns out of the hands of violent juveniles for life. He said the success of the law was proved by a new Justice Department survey, which found it has kept criminals from buying 242,000 handguns since it took effect in 1994 - some 69,000 of them in 1997.

The House gave a strong show of support for campaign finance reform. Legislators voted 254 to 155 to defeat an amendment that would have required an entire proposal, which bans soft-money donations and restricts issue advocacy ads, be struck down if any element of the measure was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

The US homeownership rate hit a record high last year of 65.7 percent, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. "The State of the Nation's Housing: 1998" found that more than 4 million people have purchased homes within the last three years. But a wide gap exists between white and minority homeownership: While 72 percent of whites own homes, the minority rate is just 46 percent, the study found.

The US Commerce Department approved exports of US technology to India over the last few years despite Pentagon objections, the Chicago Tribune reported. The technology ranged from high-speed computers to radiation warning badges. In 1995, the Pentagon argued such technology could contribute to India's ambitions to develop nuclear weapons, the Tribune said.

The World

Over strenuous US and Palestinian objections, Israel's Cabinet approved a plan to extend the municipal authority of Jerusalem over eight Jewish settlements on the West Bank as well as other suburbs inside Israel proper. Prime Minister Netanyahu defended the move as a means of improving planning and services without affecting "the status of these areas." The Palestinian Authority said the decision "fired the bullet that will put the peace process out of its misery" and filed a formal complaint with the UN Security Council.

A relative calm descended on Colombia as voters chose their president in a runoff election. Neither Horacio Serpa of the scandal-tainted ruling Liberal Party or Andres Pastrana of the rival Conservatives won a majority of votes in the first round of balloting May 31. The sale of alcoholic beverages was banned during the weekend, and 200,000 police and soldiers were called in to ensure peaceful balloting.

Defying hard-line conservatives in parliament who had just impeached his interior minister, Iranian President Mohamad Khatami quickly appointed him to a new post in charge of development and social affairs. Prior to that move, Abdollah Nouri was refusing to vacate the office from which he had been ousted by a nine-vote margin for "jeopardizing security." Nouri is the second key ally of the relatively moderate Khatami to come under fire in recent weeks. Tehran Mayor Gholamhossein Karbaschi is being tried on graft charges.

Announcing their return to ancestral lands, 4,000 black Zimbabwean peasants illegally occupied three white-owned commercial farms, news reports said. The peasants set up camp in the Marondera and Goromonzi districts, ignoring government pleas to wait for a promised resettlement plan that would distribute many farms, predominantly owned by whites, to poor blacks. The reports said the peasants "had not interfered" with owners.

Bombs exploded near the new and heavily fortified US Embassy in suburban Beirut, Lebanon, prompting police to seal off the surrounding area and begin an investigation. Reports said there was no conclusive evidence that the compound itself was the target, and diplomats inside could not be reached for comment. Sixty-three people died in 1984 when a suicide bomber attacked the original embassy in Beirut.

After two years of political instability, Czech voters chose a new parliament- but analysts doubted the outcome would break a longstanding deadlock. For the first time since the country became a democracy in 1989, Czechs backed the center-left opposition party, the Social Democrats. But lacking a solid majority, the Social Democrats were wondering how to overcome ideological divisions with other parties and form a coalition.

In Togo, President Gnassigbe Eyadema was flooding radio and TV outlets with last-minute campaign ads seeking to extend his rule as voters went to the polls. Analysts predicted an easy victory, since his main challenger was in exile and unable to return because the border was closed for "security reasons." The Washington-based National Democratic Institute said although conditions in the small west African nation had improved since the widely condemned 1993 vote, they still fell short of a "transparent and fair democratic election."

Correction: An item in this space Friday, June 19 erred in reporting that controversial Russian government official Anatoly Chubais was placed back in charge of economic reforms. It should have said Chubais was appointed as liaison to international lenders such as the World Bank.

Etceteras

He can't go into a restaurant without drawing stares. Complete strangers approach him for inside tips on buying high-tech stocks. The boldest of them come right out and ask if he could spare a generous handout. No, the object of all this attention isn't Bill Gates. But he does live in Seattle and he is a Gates lookalike. So much so that civil engineer Steve Sires now supplements his income by making "guest" appearances at corporate parties and ribbon-cuttings, posing as the Microsoft chairman. The biggest differences between them: Gates is two inches taller. And, oh, yes: He's also in a tax bracket several percentages higher than Sires.

The Day's List

Nonprofit Releases List Of Endangered US Sites

The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently added hundreds of sites around the country to its list of most-endangered historic places. They include three large groupings: Michigan lighthouses, some 225 county courthouses in Texas, and a number of black colleges and universities nationwide. Inclusion on the annual list of the nonprofit group doesn't guarantee funding, but it has often proven to be a powerful catalyst for rallying resources. Here are the other sites on this year's list:

Civil War battlefield, Chancellorsville, Va.

Cannery Row, Monterey, Calif. - immortalized in a novel by John Steinbeck.

Mesa Verde National Park, Colo. - pre-Columbian cliff dwellings.

Black Hawk and Central City, Colo. - onetime gold-mining boom towns threatened by gambling-related development.

Monocacy Aqueduct, Md. - seriously damaged by floods.

Governors Island, N.Y.

Paper mill, Topsham, Maine

- Associated Press

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