News In Brief

By , and Caryn Coatney

The US

Monica Lewinsky was to begin her long-awaited appearance before the grand jury in Washington, which could define the future course of the Clinton administration. White House officials said they hoped it was a sign that a four-year investigation headed by independent counsel Kenneth Starr was finally coming to an end.

The House voted to tighten controls on Justice Department prosecutors, including independent counsels. It approved a plan that would order US prosecutors to comply with ethical standards of the states in which they operate and to set up an independent board to review complaints about prosecutors' conduct. Some Democrats took the opportunity to criticize Kenneth Starr.

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The House upheld a ban on discrimination against homosexuals in federal jobs. A number of Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the proposal, an amendment sponsored by Rep. Joel Hefley (R) of Colorado which would have blocked an executive order against discrimination over sexual preference in hiring, firing, and promoting US employees. It was defeated 252 to 176.

The House passed a GOP bill that might be used to block the use of a statistical sampling in the 2000 census. The measure earmarks $952 million for the Census Bureau in fiscal year 1999, but withholds half the money until Congress decides sometime after March 31 to release it. Critics of the measure said half the funds may be held hostage unless the bureau drops plans to use statistical sampling, which some experts say is more accurate than traditional methods of counting minorities, poor people, and children.

Plans for exploring and developing Alaskan oil and gas resources in the northeast quadrant of the 23-million-acre National Petroleum Reserve were expected to be unveiled by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt. Environmentalists who want to prohibit exploration in the entire reserve say that, with oil prices low, there is no reason to use the energy resource now.

Scattered showers and thunderstorms brought relief to much of Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas. Weather experts, crediting a summer cool front, said it would lower temperatures for a couple of days - but might not signal an end to the region's summer heat wave. Meanwhile, the Clinton administration declared an agricultural disaster area in drought-stricken South Carolina, making many farmers there eligible for low-interest loans.

Northwest Airlines ground workers rejected contract proposals and overwhelmingly authorized a strike if necessary, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers said. Talks between Northwest, the nation's fourth-largest airline, and the Air Line Pilots Association were declared at an impasse last week. That set up the possibility of a strike a week before Labor Day weekend, when a 30-day cooling-off period expires Aug. 29.

Former President Jimmy Carter, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and other luminaries appealed for talks to abolish nuclear weapons, citing new global dangers created by recent Indian and Pakistani tests. The Fourth Freedom Forum, a US antinuclear group, organized the appeal on the 53rd anniversary of the bombing that destroyed the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

Orders to US factories inched up only 0.1 percent in June, failing to recover from a sharp decline in May, the Commerce Department said. Orders in June totaled a seasonally adjusted $330.5 billion. In May they fell 2.2 percent, the biggest drop in three years. Orders in the April-June quarter were 0.7 percent below the first quarter.

The Boston Globe asked columnist Mike Barnicle to resign because he apparently used, without attribution, material from comedian George Carlin. Less than two months ago, Globe columnist Patricia Smith resigned because she had fabricated material used in some of her articles.

The World

UN monitors were reportedly able to perform their work in Iraq unhindered, despite Baghdad's decision to suspend cooperation with the arms inspectors. American UN envoy Bill Richardson said the Security Council would need to respond in a "strong, unmistakable way" to Iraq's latest challenge.

A world conference of Anglican bishops reaffirmed their policy that homosexuality is incompatible with the scriptures and sex should be confined to married couples. With African and Asian bishops leading a traditionalist majority, the resolution on homosexuality was overwhelmingly adopted by delegates meeting in Canterbury, England. It was seen as a setback for liberal bishops from the US and Europe.

Embattled Congo President Laurent Kabila threatened war against neighboring Rwanda, which he said had sent 400 soldiers to his country to join the ethnic Tutsi-led uprising against him. The rebels had captured a key oil town and naval base in western Congo, diplomats and industry sources said. But a senior government official said Kabila's troops were in a position to regain control of Muanda, location of a Chevron oil facility, and the Banana naval base.

The conflict in Kosovo has entered "an extraordinarily dangerous phase," increasing the possibility of an international military operation, US Balkans envoy Richard Holbrooke said. As Serb forces continued advancing into the province, Kosovo's separatist ethnic-Albanian leaders and Albanian officials pleaded for outside intervention to "stop the repression." Meanwhile, European Union observers hoped to send forensic scientists to investigate news reports of mass graves containing more than 500 victims of a Serb attack on Orahovac.

Human-rights activists said they would try to verify claims of 11 mass graves in Indonesia, which were said to contain victims of a military crackdown a decade ago. Neither the military nor the government would comment on the claims of villagers from the northern province of Aceh, who said they were forced to dig the graves to bury executed Muslim separatists fighting for an independent state. An Indonesian human-rights lawyer said each grave could contain as many as 50 people.

Indonesia promised to release more political prisoners "in the near future," but a government official ruled out freeing East Timorese guerrilla leader Xanana Gusmao. East Timorese separatists called for Gusmao's release shortly after Indonesia and Portugal agreed to continue talks to resolve the territory's conflict. The countries were discussing giving "special status" to separatist East Timor, a former Portuguese colony annexed by Indonesia in 1976.

Sri Lankan forces repelled an attack by ethnic Tamil rebels in a battle for a vital road, reportedly the longest offensive in the 15-year civil war. Fierce fighting for a section of the road in the Mankulam area, north of the capital Colombo, killed more than 160 people in the past two weeks, a military spokesman said. Tamil fighters want an independent homeland for their minority group.

Two members of Yasser Arafat's new Cabinet quit their jobs, dealing a blow to the Palestinian leader, whose standing has suffered from the Mideast peace-process deadlock. Hanan Ashrawi and Abdul Jawad Saleh criticized the Cabinet reshuffle, which kept some ministers accused of graft and mismanagement.

Etceteras

It would be very harmful ... to have [media] commentators speculating on leaks of key testimony ... while the Congress awaits the true facts...."

- Sen. Arlen Specter (R) of Pennsylvania, urging the special prosecutor to report his findings as soon as possible.

The Acadmie franaise has apparently discovered a new source of linguistic pollution in its defense of the French language - American feminists. Maurice Druon, secretary of the academy, was moved recently to write a stirring denunciation of a recent fashion for feminizing titles, which he characterized as an American aberration infiltrating French via Qubec. His chief irritation? A recent ruling by France's left-wing government that women cabinet ministers - of whom there are now eight - should be addressed as "Madame la Ministre" rather than "Madame le Ministre."

Meanwhile, the Philippine ambassador to Greece has filed a formal protest with the Foreign Ministry in Athens, over a listing in a Greek dictionary of "Filipina" as meaning "housemaid" rather than a Philippine woman. Norberto Basilio called the definition "an affront to the dignity" of his country's fairer sex and demanded a correction. The Philippines has more than 4 million nationals working overseas, including Greece, many of them in domestic service.

The Day's List

Sports That Score High On the World Wide Web

HotBot, one of the Web's leading search engines, has released results of a study of sports popularity, based on HotBot search requests during the month of June. It is perhaps not so surprising that golf would be high on the list in early summer. But who would have thought that wrestling fans would slam down enough Web searches to push their sport into the No. 2 spot? The 10 sports triggering the most HotBot searches in June:

1. Golf

2. Wrestling

3. Soccer

4. Fishing

5. Baseball

6. Football

7. Tennis

8. Basketball

9. Hockey

10. Swimming

- PR Newswire

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