News In Brief

By , Lance Carden, and Caryn Coatney

The US

The US Court of Appeals temporarily blocked the head of the president's security detail from testifying in the Monica Lewinsky probe. Special Agent Larry Cockell entered the courthouse, but left after the appeals-court decision. Administration lawyers had tried in vain to gain from district Judge Norma Holloway Johnson a last-minute reprieve to prevent him from testifying. The appeals court said its stay would remain until it decides whether to accept an administration appeal of court decisions ordering Secret Service agents to testify.

North Korea, Iran, and Iraq will be able to hit the US with missiles sooner than previously projected, a bipartisan panel said. The Commission to Assess the Ballistic Threat to the United States said such countries would be able to cause "major destruction" in US cities "within about five years of a decision to acquire such a capability" - 10 years in the case of Iraq. The panel, chaired by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, did not spell out in the unclassified version of its report the present ability of any country to target US cities.

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The Senate voted to exempt food and medicine from unilateral US embargoes against other nations, except those judged to support terrorism. The senators also gave Clinton the power to waive, for up to a year, most economic sanctions against India and Pakistan.

A long-delayed request for $18 billion for the International Monetary Fund is likely to be approved by the House, majority leader Richard Armey said. He predicted the full amount eventually would be approved now that the IMF has depleted its resources. There were initial indications Republicans would allocate only $3.5 billion for a new emergency fund and delay action on $14 billion for the IMF's main account.

General Motors and the United Auto Workers Union were to schedule a hearing with an arbitrator after a US judge denied a GM motion asking for immediate arbitration. He told attorneys for GM and the UAW to set up a meeting with independent umpire Thomas Roberts for a ruling on whether ongoing strikes are legal under the UAW-GM contract. Separately, a UAW local at GM's Saturn plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., set a Sunday strike-authorization vote for 7,000 members. Spring Hill is General Motor's last US plant producing vehicles in the wake of recent union strikes.

Because of the GM strike, US industrial production plunged 0.6 percent in June - its steepest decline in five years. The Federal Reserve attributed most of the decline to an 11 percent dropoff in auto production.

Clinton was to lobby Congress for passage of a Democratic proposal to better protect the rights of medical patients. It differs significantly from a new Republican plan, outlined by Sen. Don Nickles of Oklahoma. Democrats attacked the GOP measure as inadequate and late. The more narrowly drawn GOP version expands tax-exempt medical savings accounts and limits patients' ability to sue health plans.

Clinton was expected to sign a bill passed by the House that would allow developing countries in the tropics to reduce burdensome debts to the US. The measure, already approved by the House, would forgive portions of debts that are unlikely to be repaid in full if such countries take concrete steps to protect endangered forests. To be eligible, they must have democratically elected governments, progressive human rights and anti-drug records, and be implementing economic reforms.

Clinton is blocking for another six months penalties for doing business with Cuba, spokesman Mike McCurry said. The president's waiver of the so-called Helms-Burton sanctions law effectively blocks lawsuits by US citizens seeking compensation for confiscated property used by foreign companies doing business with Cuba.

The World

The Communist-dominated lower house of Russia's parliament rejected two key elements of President Boris Yeltsin's economic austerity package required by international lenders before they will release $17.1 billion in vital new loans this year and next. The State Duma opposed a land and sales tax crucial to Yeltsin's package and made clear that a long debate was likely over other proposals.

Internal dissent forced Japan's ruling party to postpone its choice of a new prime minister despite mounting pressure to name a replacement quickly and focus on the troubled economy. After Ryutaro Hashimoto's resignation earlier this week, Foreign Minister, Keizo Obuchi appeared the likely choice in backroom negotiations. But younger party members balked, saying "voters are demanding an open debate." The party now is expected to name a new leader next Friday.

Indonesia reached a milestone in the attempt to resuscitate its battered economy, winning promises from the International Monetary Fund for an extra $6 billion in loans and an in-principle agreement to reschedule payments of the country's $54.4 billion debt. Meanwhile, a UN special envoy arrived in Jakarta for talks on the future of East Timor, saying political change in Indonesia raised hopes of a breakthrough in ending more than two decades of bloodshed.

The final hours of debate on establishing a new world criminal court were likely to end with the issue unresolved or with a "take it or leave it" plan, delegates said. The UN proposed the court as a forum for tying genocide and war-crimes defendants, but five weeks of talks have failed to break a deadlock between a US-led faction wanting to limit its authority and a group, including Canada and European counties, arguing for wide powers.

Nigeria's military government ordered the release of an estimated 400 political prisoners, announcing it intended to "defend the freedom and basic rights of individuals." But the exact number and names of detainees were not announced. The ruling council also was preparing the final adjustments to a plan to restore democracy, reports said, with indications that national elections were on the horizon.

Hopes were high among negotiators that British Columbia's first Indian land-rights treaty will help to resolve other disputes. The deal with the Nisga'a Indian Nation was the result of more than 20 years of talks. The Nisga'a are expected to receive $128 million and about 770 square miles in the Lower Nass Valley, fishing and forestry rights, and their own government, police and court.

When children return to school in German-speaking countries later this summer, it will be to a new set of rules for the written form of their language. The way was cleared by Germany's highest court, which rejected appeals by academicians, writers, and some parents who opposed the changes. Among the differences: separation of compound verbs, which can run to 20 letters, and limiting the use of a character that looks like a capital "B" for a double lower-case "s." German, Austrian, and Swiss authorities agreed to the changes in 1996, although the new and old styles will officially coexist until 2005.

In a move hailed as a sign that Haiti's long political crisis is finally ending, President Rene Preval nominated Education Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis for prime minister after parliament blocked his first three choices. The crisis, which started in June of last year after Prime Minister Rosny Smarth's resignation, has cost Haiti millions of dollars in international development aid.

Etceteras

" An absolute sellout. This makes the court into a doughnut; there's no center there."

- Human Rights Watch spokesman Richard Dicker, on a reported agreement by major powers - among them the US - to reject the jurisdiction of the proposed new International Criminal Court.

There were some real crabs in the audience as the annual music festival sponsored by a local radio station unfolded at Big Pine Key, Fla. Also fish of various sizes, not to mention 600 people in diving gear. For the event, WWUS offers selections such as Handel's "Water Music" piped through underwater speakers.

No "biker babes" jokes, please. But the German magazine ACE Lenkrad reports that the fastest-growing segment of the nation's motorcycle-buying market is women in their 80s. Fifty-one of them, in fact, already this year.

The Day's List

Women's Hall of Fame to Induct Its Class of '98

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and poet Maya Angelou are among those to be inducted tomorrow into the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, N.Y. Eleven of them will be honored posthumously. The 10 living inductees, in alphabetical order:

Madeleine Albright, secretary of State and former US ambassador to the United Nations

Maya Angelou, poet and novelist

Mary Steichen Calderone, sex-education pioneer.

Joan Ganz Cooney, founder, Children's Television Workshop and creator of "Sesame Street"

Shirley Ann Jackson, first woman chair of US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Shannon Lucid, astronaut

Roxanne Ridgway, foreign-policy adviser to six presidents.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder, Special Olympics.

Beverly Sills, opera star

Florence Wald, founder of US hospice movement

- Associated Press

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