News In Brief

The US

The line-item veto was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in one of a flurry of key decisions prior to its summer recess. The justices upheld a lower-court decision in February that Congress was wrong to delegate to a president the authority to cancel certain items in tax and spending legislation without killing the overall measures. President Clinton, the first to have that authority, used it 82 times last year.

The high court voted 6 to 3 to deny the Whitewater special counsel access to notes taken by the lawyer for the late White House aide Vince Foster. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice William Rehnquist said: "We hold that the notes are protected by attorney-client privilege." Prosecutor Kenneth Starr had subpoenaed the three pages of notes taken by James Hamilton, claiming they were important to his investigation into the 1993 firing of the White House travel office staff.

In other rulings, the justices voted 8 to 1 that the federal government - through the National Endowment for the Arts - can deny cash grants to artists whose work is considered indecent. Lower courts had held that the 1990 decency standard set by Congress violated artists' right of free speech. And, in its first AIDS-related finding, the court said the Americans With Disabilities Act covers persons diagnosed with the virus believed to cause the disease even if they show none of its symptoms.

The first reported payoff of Clinton's trip to China was a $415 million deal to build a coal-fired power plant near the eastern city of Wenzhou. Oxbow Power Corp. and Sithe Energies Inc. were expected to begin construction of the plant later this year. Business and trade were expected to be high on Clinton's agenda for the nine-day visit, with the official Xinhua news agency reporting other deals in the electronics, aviation, and environmental protection would also be signed.

CNN announced it had hired high-profile First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams of New York to investigate the accuracy of its controversial report on the use of nerve gas by US troops in the 1970s. The claim, in a report broadcast earlier this month, was further disputed by CNN's former military adviser, Maj. Gen. Perry Smith. Smith, who quit the network in protest, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution the report was "irresponsible, dishonest journalism."

One of New York State's best-known Democratic politicians scheduled a news conference to announce his switch to the Republican Party. In a prepared statement, former three-time US Rep. Herman Badillo said he believed the Democratic Party at the state and local levels was "heading in a direction that I feel will be destructive." In 1970, he became the first candidate of Puerto Rican birth to win a congressional election.

US economic growth for the first quarter was the strongest in almost two years, the Commerce Department said. Its revised estimate of gross domestic product was 5.4 percent, up 0.6 percent from the figure announced last month and the most robust since the second quarter of 1996. The stronger performance was attributed to greater production of goods than expected, coupled with less of a slump in exports to Asian markets despite that region's economic crisis.

Unemployment lines in mid-June grew longer than economists had forecast, but largely because of workers idled by the General Motors strike, the Labor Department reported. Claims for state benefits reached 364,000 - their highest level in 11 months.

With Florida baking in still more 90-degree F. temperatures, authorities ordered hundreds of residents to leave one of the neighborhoods most threatened by searing wildfires. The homeowners in Plantation Pines, near Ormond Beach, had ignored an earlier evacuation advisory. Unrelenting heat and lack of rain have helped to make the fires the most serious in more than 50 years.

The World

Chinese police detained two dissidents at the first stop on President Clinton's itinerary, a human rights group said. In Xian, Yan Jun - one of 70 activists who signed an open letter urging Clinton to meet dissidents - was taken away by police and his latest status remained unknown. Another dissident, Li Zhiying, was being detained in a guest house near Xian.

Vote-counting began today to determine the composition of Northern Ireland's new assembly. David Trimble, head of the province's largest Protestant party, the Ulster Unionists, was favored to lead the cabinet that could also include Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams. But in Newtownhamilton, terrorists opposed to the election were believed responsible for a car bomb explosion on the eve of the voting that injured a teenager.

Announcing that the "ethnic cleansing" of Albanians was under way, Kosovo separatist leader Ibrahim Rugova intensified his appeals for NATO intervention in the volatile province. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, who met Rugova, said the West would keep searching for a political solution while standing firm against calls for Kosovo's independence. In Belgrade, US envoy Richard Holbrooke held a second round of talks with Yugoslav President Milosevic, but said a quick "breakthrough" in negotiations on Kosovo was unlikely.

The UN Security Council agreed to maintain sanctions against Iraq for another 60 days after weapons-inspection chief Richard Butler formally reported that the Baghdad government had placed nerve gas in missile warheads. Iraq had earlier threatened unspecified actions against Butler's inspectors if sanctions were not lifted.

Declaring "we face a state of emergency" in Indonesia, a senior official of the International Monetary Fund announced a revised bailout deal. The new agreement would resume payments of a $38 billion rescue package in return for sweeping reforms of the country's economy. The IMF is expected to approve new loans next month.

Under strong US pressure, Arab states agreed to postpone their bid to upgrade the Palestine Liberation Organization's "observer" status at the UN. Diplomatic sources said Secretary of State Madeleine Albright strongly urged against such a move because it would further unsettle peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The PLO lacks the privileges of UN member states. Arab UN ambassadors circulated a draft resolution that would condemn an Israeli decision to extend Jerusalem's municipal authority to nearby Jewish West Bank settlements.

With his popularity plummeting and the economy in its worst crisis in 50 years, Japanese Prime Minister Hashimoto appealed to voters to "trust him" when they go to the polls for crucial July 12 Senate elections. The economy promised to be the dominant issue in the election campaign, with Hashi-moto's Liberal Democratic Party emphasizing its plans to restore growth.

Despite concerns that next month's elections were stacked in favor of Premier Hun Sen, Cambodia's politicians officially began their campaigns. Hun Sen, who controls the security forces, news media, and the commission that will oversee the election, appeared before 6,000 supporters in the capital, Phnom Penh. His archrival, ousted co-Premier Norodom Ranariddh, meanwhile, urged a crowd estimated at 10,000 to "vote for democracy and human rights." International groups said the process leading to the July 26 vote appeared free enough to continue.

Etceteras

" There may be those here and back in America who wonder whether closer ties and deeper friendship between America and China are good. Clearly, the answer is yes."

- President Clinton, in arrival remarks at Xian, the first stop on his nine-day Chinese visit.

Imagine having almost nine tons of money that's just lying around, collecting dust. You'd love to get rid of it all, but no one will take it off your hands. Gotta be some catch here, right? Well, yes. The dough is all in coins, taking up storage space at New York City's Transportation Department. But they're from 62 foreign countries. Each was stuffed into a parking meter in place of an American quarter. The loot can't even be exchanged - at a loss - for US currency because banks accept only paper money. Maybe, said a hopeful department official, "somebody could make holes in them, for costume jewelry."

Had enough of El Nio? Bill Kay, Chris Murray, and Brett Randall don't share your sentiments. They're "paintless" dent-removal specialists, who travel a circuit from West Virginia to Mississippi in search of vehicles damaged in hail storms driven by the weather phenomenon. Guided by Weather Channel reports accessed via laptop computer, their mobile shop stays in a location as long as there's a market for their services. "In my best year, I made about $400,000," says Randall.

The Day's List

Patriotic Places to Spend Fourth of July Weekend

Feeling patriotic but stuck for an idea on where to immerse yourself in American history over the long Independence Day weekend? While there's still time to make plans, here is a list of favorite destinations from a poll of 500 members of the Society of American Travel Writers:

1. Independence Hall, Philadelphia

2. Washington, D.C.

3. Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island, New York

4. Freedom Trail, Boston

5. Colonial Williamsburg, Va.

6. Lexington and Concord battlefields, Massachusetts

7. Gettysburg, Pa.

8. Jamestown, Va.

9. USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii

10. George Washington's home, Mount Vernon, Va.

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