News In Brief

The US

Linda Tripp is expected to emerge from virtual seclusion today for questioning by a Washington grand jury about secret recordings she made during conversations with ex-White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr is investigating whether Lewinsky and President Clinton lied under oath in the Paula Jones case when they denied having a sexual relationship.

The US Court of Appeals heard arguments on whether White House lawyer Bruce Lindsey can be forced to testify about his discussions with Clinton. Whitewater prosecutors told the three-judge panel that Lindsey's claim of attorney-client privilege doesn't apply. At issue is whether a government lawyer on the public payroll can refuse to disclose information to a federal grand jury investigating possible crimes by government officials by invoking the same attorney-client privilege private lawyers enjoy.

The governors of West Virginia, Vermont, Ohio, and Wisconsin declared states of emergency after heavy rains, winds, and a tornado caused flooding and extensive damage. In West Virginia and Vermont, rain-swollen rivers tore apart bridges and roads and swept mobile-home parks away. The storms were blamed for 19 deaths over the weekend.

Vice President Gore praised firefighters in Florida as he to surveyed the damage caused by fires in the parched state. Fresh brush fires broke out in central and northern Florida despite scattered rains, forcing firefighters to head to new battlegrounds. Losses are estimated at $2.6 million so far.

The Federal Reserve Board is expected to keep interest rates steady when it meets today and tomorrow, analysts predicted. Although policymakers are concerned that the fast-growing economy could fuel inflation, they are more concerned that a boost could prove perilous for Asia, analysts said.

Sales of new homes in the US hit the highest level since the government began tracking them in 1963, the Commerce Department said. Sales in May were up 0.3 percent from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted rate of 890,000. May marks the ninth consecutive month of sales at or above 800,000, the longest such streak in 21 years. Sales were strongest in the West, jumping 15.7 percent, and climbed 3.3 percent in the Northeast - the highest in 14 months. Sales fell 6.7 percent in the south and 4.1 percent in the Midwest. The median price of a new home in the US was $149,900, up 6.3 percent from a year ago.

More women than men are completing college, and black students are nearly equaling the high-school graduation rate of whites, according to a new Census Bureau report.

The Cincinnati Enquirer splashed an apology across its front page to the Chiquita company and retracted a series of articles that questioned the business practices of the world's largest banana producer. The newspaper also agreed to pay Chiquita Brands International Inc. more than $10 million to settle any legal claims that might arise from the stories. The Enquirer said its lead reporter on the series had unethically obtained information.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service will propose to remove some gray wolf populations from the endangered species list and to reclassify others, Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt announced during a news conference at the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake, Minn. The wolf has rebounded so well in the lower 48 states that it no longer needs such protection, he said.

The US and Cuba held talks in New York on migration as the number of refugees trying to leave the island has increased sharply. US Coast Guard crews have rescued 102 Cubans at sea in the month of June alone. The two countries have held eight rounds of migration talks since 1994.

The World

Students at Beijing University gave President Clinton's speech on human rights a skeptical response. Despite his call for a "new relationship" between the two countries, Clinton faced blunt questions about whether his aim was to "contain" China and about American human rights problems. Meanwhile, US business leaders traveling with the president signed $3.1 billion worth of contracts with state-owned companies.

European leaders showed no enthusiasm for a US proposal that Albanian separatists be given a place at the negotiating table for peace in Kosovo. The restive province has a 90 percent Albanian majority. Meanwhile, Serb forces opened a new offensive against separatist-held areas only six miles from the provincial capital, Pristina. Their attack focused on a coal mine that provides the fuel for most of the province's electricity.

To prevent "all the gains of the past three months" from being wrecked, an annual parade by a Protestant group in Northern Ireland was ordered to bypass a hostile Catholic district in Portadown. The march by members of the Orange Order has used the volatile Garvaghy Road every year since 1807. Catholics, who rioted in Portadown during each of the past two parades, have threatened a counter-demonstration. The ruling by the province's Parades Commission came four days after the election for a new self-governing assembly.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu brushed aside a surprise call from President Ezer Weizman to announce an early election. Weizman, who has clashed repeatedly with Netanyahu over the slow pace of peace negotiations, spoke after the latter dropped the idea of a national referendum on yielding more of the West Bank to Palestinians. Weizman's post is ceremonial and he has no power to determine when an election should be held.

Warning that Nobel Peace Prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi is on a collision course with them, Burma's military rulers said her actions "can no longer be tolerated." She was threatened with prosecution under a law that prohibits oral or written arguments against "the emergence of a firm and enduring Constitution." Conviction under the statute carries a maximum prison term of 20 years. Suu Kyi angered the junta by demanding that it convene parliament by Aug. 2 based on the outcome of 1990 elections won by her National League for Democracy.

Police were investigating the apparent suicide in The Hague of a Serb defendant awaiting the verdict in his war-crimes trial. Slavko Dokmanovic was charged with abetting the 1991 executions of 200 non-Serb hospital patients while serving as mayor of Vukovar, in eastern Croatia. He pleaded innocent to all charges but could have been sentenced to life in prison if convicted by the UN tribunal.

With 68 percent of the electorate failing to vote, a critical referendum on liberalizing abortion in Portugal was declared void. The outcome left political leaders grasping for explanations, since opinion polls had given no hint that so many eligible voters would stay home. Of those who did vote, just under 51 percent opposed easing current restrictions.

Special UN representative to Angola Alionune Blondin Beye, who died in a light-plane crash in Ivory Coast with seven other people, was an expert in international law. He was charged with implementing the 1994 peace accord between Angola's government and the UNITA rebel movement. Previously, he served as Foreign Minister of Mali and secretary-general of the African Development Bank.

Etceteras

"Linda ... has no political agenda to advance. Nor does she bear any personal

or political animus toward anyone involved in this case."

- Philip Coughter, a spokesman for Linda Tripp, whose long-awaited grand-jury testimony is due to begin today.

Rasta Thomas's mother didn't appreciate his "rude and disrespectful" behavior toward a martial-arts instructor in Washington. So, as punishment, she forced him to take classes in another discipline few macho-type guys would dream of - ballet. Some punishment. Fast forward 10 years to last week in Jackson, Miss. Rasta, now a teenager, took home the gold medal, a scholarship, and a cash prize in the senior men's division of the USA International Ballet Competition. He topped contestants from 25 other countries.

Police in Santa Ana, Calif., have two car-theft suspects back in custody. Now they want to know how the bad guys managed to escape from a bus taking them from jail to the Orange County Courthouse just one block away without (a) breaking any windows, (b) forcing open any doors, (c) making any holes in the vehicle, or (d) overpowering any guards. Oh, and did we mention that they were handcuffed together at the time? Discarded orange prisoner suits and a new stolen-car report led the cops to a garage in Anaheim where the two were hiding.

The Day's List

Ranking the Nation's Top Sandwich Outlet Chains

Austin, Texas-based Schlotzky's Deli led all competitors in systemwide sales growth last year as measured by Nation's Restaurant News. To be included in the annual trade publication survey, a chain must generate at least $260 million in domestic sales. Schlotzky's currently operates outlets in 38 states. The top 12 chains in 1997 and the percentage of growth for each:

1. Schlotzky's Deli 33.5

2. Blimpie Subs & Salads 20.2

3. Sonic Drive-in 16.0

4. Krystal 13.0

5. Jack in the Box 11.1

6. Carl's Jr. 9.6

7. White Castle 9.5

8. Burger King 8.2

9. Arby's 7.1

10. Subway 6.2

11. McDonald's 4.6

12. Wendy's 4.5

- Business Wire

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