News In Brief

The US

With political Washington still buzzing over the grants of immunity to Monica Lewinsky and her mother, another key figure in the investigation arrived for perhaps her final day of testimony before the Whitewater grand jury. Linda Tripp, according to news reports, was the source of the controversial "talking points" that have become central to the case. But her attorney told journalists at the federal courthouse that the reports had no validity.

There was no immediate word on how soon Monica Lewinsky would testify before the grand jury. Sources close to the investigation said she would undergo several more interviews by prosecutors first - a process that could take weeks. The New York Times and Washington Post both reported they had learned that she was prepared to say President Clinton had coached her on her testimony about their alleged relationship.

Onetime Clinton business partner Susan McDougal's trial for embezzlement was set for Aug. 10 in Santa Monica, Calif., by a state Superior Court judge. Leslie Light also rejected a move by attorneys to dismiss most of the charges against her and ruled that, in defending her, they may make no mention of Whitewater special counsel Kenneth Starr or her involvement in Starr's investigation. She is accused of stealing $150,000 from conductor Zubin Mehta and his wife while working as their bookkeeper.

More than 9,000 striking United Auto Workers Union members in Flint, Mich., were expected to approve a deal with General Motors that could return many of them to their jobs within hours. But analysts said the automaker would likely need 10 days to restock its parts pipeline and return to full production. Terms of the deal allow the payroll at Flint's Delphi East plant to be cut by 800 workers, the union said. But the company agreed to keep the plant open until at least Jan. 1, 2000.

Rank-and-file members of the Teamsters Union will be polled on whether they should contribute more than $3 million to help pay for a rerun of their 1996 presidential election, a federal judge said. In New York, David Edelstein said he'd impose costly demands on the union to ensure that the vote this fall is fair if Congress fails to provide new funding for a government-supervised ballot. The '96 vote was invalidated, and earlier this week President Ron Carey was expelled from the union.

There were fewer shooting deaths in US schools in the academic year just ended (40) than five years ago (55), a new study reported. But the private Justice Policy Institute said heavy news coverage of those in Paducah, Ky., Jonesboro, Ark., and other locations has left the opposite impression. Its report, "School House Hype," warned that such coverage could result in "counterproductive" laws and an excessive focus on dangers in schools when gun violence outside schools is a greater threat to children.

White Americans are more than twice as likely to own home computers as blacks or Hispanics, a Commerce Department report said. It said about 41 percent of white families own the devices, as opposed to 19 percent of black and Hispanic families. The report also said ownership has grown by almost 52 percent since 1994, while the number of people using e-mail at home has quadrupled.

New orders for durable goods - costly items such as cars, refrigerators, and heavy industrial machinery - fell for the second straight month in June, the Commerce Department reported. It put the decline at 0.2 percent, following a 3.3 percent plunge in May, signaling a slowing pace of industrial activity. The June drop was blamed largely on the General Motors strike.

Tropical storm Alex, the first of the Atlantic hurricane season, was churning toward the Caribbean but posed no immediate threat to land, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said. The storm was reported 2,900 miles from the southeastern US.

The World

International markets were waiting to see whether Japan's new-look Cabinet, to be installed by Prime Minister-designate Keizo Obuchi today, would act swiftly to pull the country from its deep recession. Former prime minister Kiichi Miyazawa agreed to become finance minister, overcoming his initial reluctance because of concerns that he was too old for the job.

Four black militants convicted of murdering a white American student were freed by South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It said the crime was political and that the men had told the inquiry the full truth - the two conditions needed for an amnesty. Fulbright scholar and anti-apartheid activist Amy Biehl was killed in the Gugulethu black township outside Cape Town in August 1993.

Four hundred prisoners involved in Northern Ireland's sectarian violence will be released early under a law overwhelmingly supported by Parliament in London, which is part of the April 10 peace agreement for the province. Under the bill's terms, all paramilitary groups that maintain a cease-fire and cooperate in weapons hand-overs will qualify for their convicted militants to be released.

Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi spent a sixth day in her car to protest the Burmese government's refusal to allow her to drive to a meeting of her pro-democracy political party. Diplomats said Suu Kyi was becoming weak from hunger and stress, but a government spokesman said a medical team was on standby to come to her aid. The government rejected a request for US and Japanese diplomats to see her.

A team of European diplomats arriving in Kosovo announced "the violence has to stop immediately" before meeting ethnic Albanian leaders, still rattled by recent Serb victories. Meanwhile, a US effort to unite Kosovo's bickering ethnic Albanian leaders into a broad-based negotiating team was showing signs of progress, officials said. International observers have estimated the war has killed 500 people and displaced 150,000 others.

Taking the first step toward forcing an early national election, Israel's parliament supported a protest bill against Prime Minister Netanyahu's handling of the deadlocked Middle East peace process. Lawmakers also voted for an opposition bill to dissolve parliament. Before becoming law, the two bills must pass a committee and three more votes.

China, Iran, and other countries have concealed their ballistic missile programs by using elaborate underground networks to escape detection by US spy satellites, The Washington Post reported. Quoting members of a US bipartisan commission, the Post said such countries, also including Russia and North Korea, were building and testing weapons in enormous underground laboratories and factories.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced $1.1 million in US aid to Papua New Guinea to help repair damage from three tidal waves July 17 that killed more than 1,600 people. Officials said that number could climb to as many as 3,000 people. Albright visited the South Pacific island on her way to Australia for security talks.

Hundreds of Venezuelan Indians blocked the main highway to Brazil to protest the construction of a power line running through their homelands. Indigenous leaders from the southeastern Bolivar state said the 430-mile power line, whichwill link Venezuela to Brazil, would destroy vast tracts of the Canaima National Park and Amazonian forest.

Etceteras

"I can understand the wrath of Congress ... very clearly. They don't trust you."

- Federal Judge David Edelstein, saying Teamsters leaders should approach the legislative branch on their knees to promise that the union's next election for president will be fair.

The sweltering Texas heat has been drying up other things, but not the state's famous reservoir of tall tales. As reported by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, humorists have been recycling such old groaners as:

* The fellow who prayed, "I wish it would rain. Not so much for me - I've seen it - but for my seven-year-old."

* It was so dry that the cows were giving evaporated milk.

Meanwhile, a Houston city councillor has proposed an ordinance that would ban employers from requiring their staffs to wear neckties or pantyhose to work until summer ends.

For the sake of argument, let's say you've been caught robbing a bank: Can you sue the teller who forked over the money for slander? Yes. Now, a suspect who filed just such a suit in Atlantic City, N.J., may not get very far with it. But he's seeking a $1.2 million settlement from a Fleet Bank branch employee who, he claims, falsely told police he'd threatened to use a gun if she wasn't quick about it. The outcome could determine whether he faces a possible 20 years in prison if convicted - or just 5. The heist netted $3,300.

The Day's List

Iowa Rated Best State For Rearing Children

Iowa has won top honors as a place for rearing children in an annual report released by the Children's Rights Council, a child-advocacy group based in Washington. Last year Iowa was No. 5 on the list of 50 states, plus the District of Columbia. This year's ranking was on the basis of declining numbers of children living in poverty, of single parents, and teen pregnancies - 3 of 11 categories used in the evaluation. The top 10 for 1998:

1. Iowa

2. Minnesota

3. New Hampshire

4. Nebraska

5. Massachusetts

6. North Dakota

7. South Dakota

8. Maine

9. Utah

10. Vermont

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