News In Brief

The US

The Senate passed a bill that would lower interest rates on college loans. The rate after students leave school would fall to 7.43 percent, but banks would receive 7.93 percent - with public funds making up the difference. Students now pay up to 8.23 percent. The White House and some Democrats object to bank subsidies, but a 414-to-44 House vote and a 96-to-1 Senate vote on the measure were said to make a veto unlikely. The Senate bill raises over five years the maximum size of Pell Grants to poor students from $3,000 to $5,800 and forgives some loans for teachers who agree to work in low-income areas.

The Texas Board of Education voted to sell $45 million in Walt Disney Co. stock from the state's school fund. The GOP-dominated board, which runs Texas public schools, voted 8 to 4 to divest, with two abstentions. Disney has become a pariah for groups such as Southern Baptists, who last year voted to boycott the company because of its alleged "promotion of immoral ideologies and practices."

O.J. Simpson's lawyers have appealed a $33.5 million wrongful-death judgment against him, the Los Angeles Daily Journal reported. The appeal, filed in Los Angeles, says the trial judge erred in admitting evidence of prior domestic abuse. It also says the size of the judgment was excessive and resulted from the "passion and prejudice" of the jury. In a 1995 criminal trial, Simpson was acquitted of murdering Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman, but jurors in a civil case awarded the victims' families $33.5 million in damages.

The Senate voted unanimously to exempt agriculture credits from US sanctions imposed on Pakistan and India in response to their nuclear detonations. Amid a wheat glut and a financial crisis in Asia, the sanctions were said to threaten millions of dollars in sales to Pakistan.

A US general ordered two Marine captains tried by courts martial in connection with an accident that killed 20 skiers in the Italian Alps Feb. 3. Richard Ashby and Joseph Schweitzer will be tried separately later this year on 20 counts of involuntary manslaughter and 20 counts of negligent homicide for flying a military jet that cut a cable holding a gondola loaded with skiers.

The Senate reaffirmed US support for Taiwan in a vote designed to smooth feathers ruffled after President Clinton publicly stated in China US opposition to the island's independence. In a unanimous vote, the Senate agreed to a nonbinding resolution noting "long, peaceful" ties with Taiwan" and urging Clinton to convince Beijing to renounce the use of force against Taiwan.

A federal gag order barring the release of secret court files in the Paula Jones lawsuit against Clinton was extended indefinitely. District Judge Susan Webber Wright put off opening the file after the president's lawyers asked her to maintain a secrecy order intended to prevent the release of potentially embarrassing information.

General Motors Corp. and union negotiators were said to be making slow progress over the weekend in talks aimed at ending strikes at two parts plants in Flint, Mich. The Flint Journal said GM had agreed to add several hundred jobs and protect another 1,000 at its Buick City complex, but a union official said the report was inaccurate.

Inflation at the wholesale level dipped 0.1 percent in June, the Labor Department reported. It said a jump in drug costs was offset by falling energy prices. The 0.1 percent decline supports the view that inflation still poses no threat to the economy, analysts said.

Striking Philadelphia transit workers tentatively agreed to end a strike that snarled area traffic for a month. Details of a new contract - to be voted on by union members July 24 - were not released.

The World

Japan was in political turmoil after Senate elections that, exit polls showed, would be a major defeat for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). TV networks projected the LDP would win only 40 to 46 of the 61 seats needed to keep its current voting strength in parliament's upper house. Turnout was higher than expected for the election, which was seen as a referendum on Prime Minister Hashimoto's efforts to reverse the worst recession since World War II. Some LDP officials said Hashimoto would have to resign over the defeat.

Leaders across the religious and political spectrum in Northern Ireland pleaded for reason after an arson attack killed three Catholic children and hospitalized their mother and her Protestant boyfriend. The incident, at Ballymoney, was blamed on lingering tensions from last week's ban on a Protestant Orange Order parade through a Catholic section of Portadown, 65 miles south. A new application for the march was rejected yesterday. But in nightly attacks, Orange Order supporters have tried to tear down a police barricade in their path.

Signaling an end to hopes that President Clinton's visit might bring a breakthrough in human rights policy, China arrested nine activists who'd tried to register a new political party. By late in the weekend, it was still holding five of the dissidents, some of whom, it appeared, could face 10 years in prison for their actions. Police had accused the group of plotting to overthrow the government by seeking to register their party the day Clinton began his tour.

Nigeria's military ruler was expected to announce as early as tomorrow a new plan for shifting the country to democracy. Gen. Abdusalam Abubakar was responding to riots and opposition calls to step down after the sudden death of high-profile political prisoner Moshood Abiola. The preliminary finding of an autopsy by visiting pathologists showed Abiola died of cardiac arrest, as claimed by the government. But one of Abiola's sons said his death was caused by inadequate medical treatment over his four-year imprisonment.

"Final stage" negotiations in Moscow were expected to produce a new multibillion-dollar loan to help bail out the crisis-ridden Russian economy. The New York Times reported that the International Monetary Fund was prepared to lend $11 billion, while a parallel deal with the World Bank would yield up to $1.5 billion. Another $10 billion was being sought from Western commercial banks.

Refusing to bow to Western pressure, Russia reiterated its opposition to military intervention in Kosovo while Serb forces attacked a rebel stronghold outside the province's second largest city. Both warring factions continued to ignore calls for a cease-fire from the six-nation Contact Group, which completed its blueprint for autonomy for Kosovo.

Taiwan's military authorities devised a plan to develop major weapons over the next decade to curtail any military threats from China, reports said. But the program would not include nuclear weapons - although experts said Taiwan could build a nuclear bomb in two years - because of US opposition. The revelations came after reports that China planned to "disintegrate Taiwan from within" through secret-agent networks.

Politics vied with the World Cup soccer final for the attention of Ecuadoreans as they voted in a presidential runoff election. Opinion polls favored Quito Mayor Jamil Mahuad over businessman Alvaro Noboa, the top vote-getters in the first ballot May 31. A low turnout was expected.

Etceteras

"The rug was pulled out from under him." - A visiting former US official, on the expected resignation of Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto after voters in Japan's Senate elections repudiated his party and its efforts to pull the nation out of deep recession.

To the list of great American landmarks - such as the Statue of Liberty and Mt. Rushmore - will we soon be adding the Eiffel Tower? Mais non! But the prospect seems to worry enough Frenchmen that the government decided to issue a flat denial last week. It seems Paris's most enduring symbol is managed by the subsidiary of a state-owned lending agency that is about to be privatized. A presumed strong bidder is Detroit-based General Motors Acceptance Corp.

YSFs - young, single females - in Britain have acquired a new stereotype. According to results of a survey of women between 18 and 34, they regularly:

* date more than one man at a time, but defer marriage and motherhood to pursue career goals;

* sleep in on Sundays;

* avoid cleaning up after themselves, especially vacuuming and dish-washing.

The Day's List

George Mitchell Is Latest Winner of Liberty Medal

Former Senate majority leader George Mitchell, architect of the peace accord in Northern Ireland, was recently awarded the Liberty Medal. The prize, which comes with a $100,000 award is underwritten by Unisys Corp., and was established to heighten recognition of principles on which the US was founded. Its previous recipients:

1989 - Lech Walesa, former president of Poland and founder of the Solidarity movement

1990 - Former US President Jimmy Carter

1991 - Nobel laureate and former Costa Rican President Oscar Arias; French medical/ human-rights organization Medicins Sans Frontires (Doctors Without Borders)

1992 - Former US Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall

1993 - South Africa leaders F.W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela

1994 - Czech President Vaclav Havel

1995 - Sadako Ogata, UN high commissioner for refugees

1996 - former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres; King Hussein of Jordan

1997 - CNN International

- Associated Press

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