News In Brief

By , Lance Carden, and Caryn Coatney

The US

Secret Service employees must answer grand-jury questions in the Monica Lewinsky inquiry, a US appeals court declared. The panel of three GOP-appointed judges rejected arguments that Secret Service agents should be exempted from grand-jury questioning because their testimony could jeopardize a president's security. There was no immediate word on whether the Clinton administration would appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, ask the full appeals court to hear the case, or abide by the decision.

Clinton endorsed a bill designed to limit children's access to guns by encouraging the use of "trigger locks" or other security mechanisms on stored weapons. The proposal by US Sen. Richard Durbin (D) of Illinois and Sen. John Chafee (R) of Rhode Island would impose penalties on owners when juveniles get hold of their guns and use them against another person, show them in a public place, or take them to school. Penalties would not apply when the owner has used a trigger lock or kept the weapon in locked storage.

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

The Senate agreed to debate product-liability legislation designed to protect businesses from abusive and costly lawsuits. Clinton vetoed a 1996 proposal, but supporters of a scaled-down version say it has his backing. The compromise sets a $250,000 cap only on punitive damages against small companies and individuals. It applies to firms with $5 million or less in annual revenues and 25 or fewer employees. Lobbyists have worked frenetically on both sides of the issue.

Special interests reported spending $1.17 billion last year to lobby Congress and the federal bureaucracy, a study of disclosure reports indicated. In all, companies, labor unions, interest groups, and municipalities reported hiring 14,484 lobbyists, a host that outnumbers members of Congress 27 to 1, according to the computer analysis. The most heavily lobbied issues: the budget, taxes, health, transportation, and defense.

Federal, state, and local governments allow chronic, widespread police brutality, the nation's largest human-rights group said. In a detailed report on police behavior in 14 of the largest US cities, Human Rights Watch said blacks and Hispanics are disproportionately victimized. The National Association of Chiefs of Police characterized the report as unfair and disgusting.

The Senate defeated an effort to end US participation in the international space station - an attempt to send a permanent manned laboratory into orbit. The vote was 66 to 33. By the time it is operational, the joint project with Russia, Canada, Japan, and European countries is projected to cost the US $100 billion. Critics say the bill will be much higher.

The Commerce Department eased export requirements on data-scrambling computer-secrecy software. As a result, US software firms will no longer need export licenses for sales of encryption programs to foreign banks, security firms, brokers, and credit-card companies in 45 countries that enforce strong money-laundering laws.

Democratic Party fund-raiser Maria Hsia was indicted on tax charges by a US grand jury in Los Angeles, the Justice Department said. In February, a grand jury in Washington indicted Hsia for allegedly conspiring to use corporate money belonging to a Buddhist temple to make illegal campaign donations to Clinton's reelection campaign.

Terry Nichols lost his bid for a new trial in the Oklahoma City bombing case. A US district judge in Denver dismissed defense arguments that deliberations were tainted because jurors held improper conver- sations. Nichols was sentenced to life in prison after he was convicted of the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, which killed 168 people in April 1995. He has filed notice of intent to appeal.

The number of registered vehicles in the US has topped 200 million for the first time, an annual study of state registrations revealed. The report from the Polk Co. in Detroit said just over 201 million cars and trucks were registered during the year that ended June 30.

The World

Nigeria's major cities were battlegrounds as soldiers and police tried to contain mobs of rioters unwilling to accept the official version of Moshood Abiola's death. At least 14 people were reported killed in the violence. The popular opposition leader died of what doctors called cardiac arrest as he awaited release from prison by the military government. Amid the violence, new President Abubakar disbanded his Cabinet. He was expected to discuss the situation in detail in an address to the nation.

Ordinary Japanese as well as economists and financial analysts were trying to make sense of a vague promise of permanent income-tax cuts by Prime Minister Hashimoto. In a campaign appearance, he said he wanted cuts as part of an overhaul of the tax system. But he argued that the "environment" was not yet right for lowering the minimum taxable income, did not specify the size of the reduction, and failed to say how the government would cover an expected revenue gap. He spoke as new public opinion polls indicated his Liberal Democratic Party was not likely to win a majority in the upper house of parliament in Sunday's election.

Police and British troops ducked more gunfire in Northern Ireland cities during a third straight night of violence over last Sunday's thwarted Protestant parade through a Catholic section of Portadown. Behind the scenes, the leaders of the province's new self-governing assembly worked to try to bring the two factions in Portadown closer together. Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Blair was expected to meet delegates of the Protestant Orange Order today in London.

Using what they said was leaked information, two London newspapers reported that Britain's Labour government planned to slash its nuclear weapons arsenal by half and sell off 20 percent of the nation's other defense assets by 2002. The Times and The Daily Telegraph said the plan was designed to cut defense spending from 2.7 percent of gross national product to 2.4 percent. The Defense Ministry called the leak "grossly improp-er," announced an immediate investigation, and vowed to take the "severest action" against those responsible.

Antigovernment agitation in Russia spread to the Navy and defense industry as demands for back pay, assured housing, and the resignation of President Yeltsin grew. In Moscow, government negotiators raced the clock to try to secure up to $15 billion in new loans from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. The loans were dependent on the Communist-dominated lower house of parliament approving the emergency package of economic reforms announced by the government last week. Parliament is not due to meet again until Wednesday.

About one-third of the world's children lack birth certificates, jeopardizing their access to schooling, health care, and voting rights, a new UN report said. It said about 40 million births each year are unregistered and cautioned that even that estimate "may be low."

Noting that "illegal" religious activities still occurred in Vietnam, the ruling Communist Party set the stage for new statutes limiting church activities. A directive issued by the top decisionmaking body in Hanoi demanded stricter enforcement of party policy. The Politburo order said believers, who only recently were allowed to openly practice their faiths, were using religion as a way of "causing harm to the national interest."

Etceteras

" It was too convenient. All of a sudden, at the eve of his release, he dies."

- Hafsat Abiola, rejecting government claims that her imprisoned father, Nigeria's leading

opposition politician, died of natural causes.

Arthur Warden now knows what it means when people say, "It's a jungle out there." The Beckley, W. Va., letter carrier was making his rounds earlier this week when a 125-pound chimpanzee climbed through the open window of his van. Not up for such monkey business, Warden abandoned the vehicle. The chimp followed. They were toe-to-toe when the animal broke away and returned to the house where it's a family pet. Warden didn't know it had spent its entire life around humans and probably wanted only to play. No injuries, but the van rolled into a parked truck. The chimp's owner was cited for not keeping it leashed.

In Albany, N.Y., foul weather doesn't stop mail deliveries, but an aggressive wild turkey did. Its unprovoked attacks ruffled the feathers of a carrier as he went door to door. Residents soon found themselves having to pick up their own mail at the post office. Solution: curbside boxes, allowing deliveries to resume and the turkey to-well-trot undisturbed.

The Day's List

Buyers Rate Automakers On the Purchase Process

Saturn was rated No. 1 in sales satisfaction for the fourth straight year in a poll of 23,970 US buyers of 1998 cars, minivans, pickups, and sport-utility models. The small-car unit of General Motors barely beat out a number of luxury nameplates in a J.D. Power & Associates survey that ranks automakers on how well their dealers satisfied customers during purchase or lease transactions - and in delivering the new vehicles. The top 10 and their ratings (based on a maximum score of 182):

1. Saturn 144

2. Cadillac 143

3. Lexus 142

4. Land Rover 140

5. Volvo 139

6. BMW 138

(tie) Jaguar 138

(tie) Mercedes-Benz 138

7. Lincoln 136

8. Infiniti 134

9. Mercury 132

10. Oldsmobile 130

- Associated Press

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