News In Brief

The US

Sweltering heat was expected to permeate the Midwest today. Commonwealth Edison said it would schedule rolling blackouts to hundreds of Chicago-area neighborhoods if it can't generate or purchase the electricity needed. Last week's shortages prompted Mayor Richard Daley to warn ComEd to expect a wave of lawsuits if it failed to meet rising energy demands. Meanwhile, eight states, mostly in the Midwest and Northeast, were cleaning up after extreme thunderstorms caused flooding that in some cases required helicopter rescues. The deluge is being blamed for at least seven deaths.

Police, Texas Rangers, and FBI agents broke up skirmishes in Jasper, Texas, where about 20 Ku Klux Klan members held a rally denouncing the slaying of James Byrd Jr., a black man who was beaten and dragged behind a pickup truck. But about 20 black counterdemonstrators carrying guns and shouting "black power" tried to break through a ring of state troopers to reach the white supremacists. Three men with ties to white supremacist groups have been charged with the murder.

In a landmark ruling on sexual harassment, The US Supreme Court decided in two cases that employers may be held liable for misconduct by their supervisors. The decision allows for lawsuits by employees who refuse unwelcome and threatening sexual advances by a supervisor, even without adverse job consequences. President Clinton's lawyer has disputed the claim by Paula Jones's legal team that the ruling will help her case against the president, which was dismissed in April.

The Supreme Court upheld the government's right to ban the sale of sex-oriented magazines on military bases, rejecting the argument by the publisher of Penthouse magazine that the law violates free-speech rights. Also, the court ruled that the US Constitution's Fifth Amendment, which says people can't be prosecuted twice for the same crime, doesn't protect convicted criminals from a second sentencing in non-capital punishment cases. The 5-to-4 ruling in the case involving California's "three strikes" law makes it easier for states to impose stiffer sentences on repeat criminals.

The Coast Guard reopened the Mississippi River to north-bound shipping almost 19 hours after two tugboats collided, dumping 69,000 gallons of oil. The Mississippi remain-ed closed to southbound traffic and all ships and barges contaminated by the crude oil slick, which stretched more than 40 miles, a Coast Guard spokes-man said. The cleanup is expected to take several days.

A Washington jury convicted Archie Schaffer, a high-ranking employee of Tyson Foods Inc., of giving $8,500 worth of travel and tickets to former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy. The gifts were given when the USDA was planning to tighten meat and poultry regulations after contaminated hamburger sickened hundreds of people in the Pacific Northwest. Espy is expected to face similar charges at his own trial in October.

The Senate approved career diplomat Jeffrey Davidow as ambassador to Mexico before Congress began a recess that coincides with Clinton's China trip. Davidow directs the State Department's Latin America bureau and has spent 29 years in the foreign service. The Senate also passed a bill that would give states incentives for improving their methods of tracking and collecting child support payments.

The Justice Department argued that an appeals court shouldn't bar it from assisting a state grand jury investigation of the 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City. The argument was in response to an earlier decision by the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver to temporarily block the FBI and federal prosecutors from helping state authorities who are conducting an investigation separate from earlier federal investigations.

The World

Other than some strong words by President Clinton on human rights in China, his meeting with the Beijing leadership yielded little other movement on the issue, Secretary of State Albright said. In a televised appearance, Clinton and his counterpart, Jiang Zemin, jousted verbally Saturday, with the former denouncing the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre of activists for democracy and Jiang defending it. Follow-up newspaper accounts of their summit made no mention of the disagreement.

Armed Albanian separatists were refusing to yield their siege of a mostly Serb village in Kosovo despite efforts to bomb them via helicopter. Another helicopter was flying in food to Kijevo, and there were concerns that Yugoslav President Milosevic was ready to break the blockade by force. Special US envoy Richard Holbrooke, at a political and economic forum in Switzerland, said: "We are only a few steps away from general war in Kosovo."

British Prime Minister Blair pronounced himself "very confident" after meeting with leaders of the four main parties in the Northern Ireland peace process. Their talks were held as it became clear that Ulster Unionist chief David Trimble would likely become "first minister" of the province's new 108-seat governing assembly after last week's election. Parties opposed to the power-sharing plan fell just short of winning enough seats to form a blocking minority.

The heaviest rocket barrage in a year killed four people and wounded an unknown number of others in Kabul, Afghanistan. Witnesses counted at least 15 strikes by opposition forces north of the capital. They appeared to be targeting the airport, where the Taliban religious movement bases its jets. The Taliban control 85 percent of the battered country but have been unable to wipe out the opposition despite four years of fighting.

Tens of thousands of Algerians gathered for the funeral of an ethnic Berber pop singer whose assassination by Muslim militants touched off three days of rioting. Lounes Matoub died after being stopped late last week at a fake roadblock, but reports said people were equally angry at efforts by the military-backed government to impose Arabic as the only official language next week. Matoub was a staunch defender of Berber culture.

Early turnout across Portugal was reported light despite a deeply divisive abortion-on-demand referendum. It was forced by opponents after parliament approved a bill in February that would relax restrictions. Abortions now are available only until the 12th week of pregnancy in cases of rape or for strictly defined medical reasons. Late opinion polls suggested the measure would win, but the outcome would be valid only if more than 50 percent of the electorate voted.

Search crews in Ivory Coast resumed efforts to reach the wreckage of a plane believed to be carrying special UN envoy to Angola Alione Blondin Beye and five colleagues. Their disappearance comes at a critical time: Sanctions against Angola's UNITA rebel movement are to begin next week unless it abides by a 1994 peace accord with the government.

The number of casualties likely would have been far higher from a powerful earthquake Saturday if it had come when most people were indoors, officials in southern Turkey said. It struck in the afternoon, when outdoor cafs were full of customers watching a World Cup soccer game on TV. At least 109 people died, and more than 1,000 others were hurt. Hardest-hit was the oil-terminal city of Ceyhan, 250 miles from Ankara, the capital.

Etceteras

If you've ever put together a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle, you know the sense of satisfaction that comes when it's finished. Imagine, then, how some Taiwanese felt on completing a 209,250-piece puzzle. The 505-square-foot image was of characters in the new film, "Mulan" - Hollywood's take on a legend still taught in Taiwan schools.

Mustafa Yildirim, fresh out of law school, agreed to represent the residents of Hacialiler, Turkey, in a dispute with a neighboring town. As it wound through one court, then another, and finally the national court of appeals, no fewer than 15 judges considered the opposing arguments. This spring, Yildirim was notified his side had won. It was a bittersweet victory; all of his clients had long since died. The case, filed in 1939, took 59 years.

The Day's List

World's Costliest Cities: Japan Has the Top Two

Japan has the world's two most expensive cities in which to live, according to an annual survey by the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit. Its rankings - for the first half of 1998 - put Tokyo in first place and Osaka/ Kobe in second. The cities with the highest cost of living and their 1997 rankings (in parentheses), counting two ties:

1. Tokyo (1)

2. Osaka/Kobe, Japan (2)

3. Hong Kong (5)

4. Oslo (3)

5. Zurich, Switzerland (6)

6. Libreville, Gabon (6)

(tie) London (14)

7. Paris (6)

8. Geneva (10)

9. Moscow (4)

10. Vienna (11)

11. Copenhagen, Denmark (11)

12. Stockholm (15)

13. Tel Aviv (18)

14. Beijing (16)

15. New York (22)

16. Singapore (9)

17. Shanghai, China (19)

18. Taipei, Taiwan (11)

19. Guangzhou, China (33)

(tie) Lyon, France (19)

- Deutsche Press Association

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