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President Clinton and House Republicans began filing legal papers in advance of opening impeachment-trial arguments, set for Thursday. The White House decided to forgo filing a motion seeking to dismiss the case at its inception. Two Senate Democrats said they would file a motion to open impeachment proceedings to the public. Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone (l., talking to reporters at a joint press conference) and Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin (r.) said they would try to change Senate rules so deliberations would not take place behind closed doors. "A secret debate is wrong, it's dangerous," Harkin said. The Supreme Court struck down a Colorado method of regulating voter initiatives, ruling unconstitutional three provisions it found "excessively restrictive of political speech." It said states may not require that people who circulate petitions be registered voters, make circulators wear name badges identifying them as "paid" or "volunteer," or mandate from initiative backers monthly reports that identify paid petition circulators and tell how much they're paid. Last year was the hottest on record worldwide, the US space agency said - adding further evidence that the earth is heating up. The findings indicate a world mean temperature in 1998 of about 58.496 degrees F., topping the previous record of 58.154 F., set in 1995. The 1998 figure may change slightly as late reports come in, but this will not alter the conclusion that 1998 easily set a record, the agency said. Clinton was to propose more than doubling US funding for land acquisition, a White House spokesman said. Among other things, the administration will seek $442 million for direct US purchases, including additions to the Mojave National Preserve in California, the Lewis and Clark Trail along the Missouri River, New England forests, and the Gettysburg and Antietam battlefields. Another $588 million would aid state and local land-conservation efforts. Numerous Olympics officials denied that Salt Lake City could lose the 2002 Winter Games because of a bribery scandal. Disavowals came after Marc Hodler, an International Olympic Committee member and head of its oversight panel for the 2002 Games, said they could be moved or canceled if the city can't raise enough money. Robert Garff, chairman of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, said the Games could be scaled back if fund-raising falls short. The city has reportedly raised about 75 percent of its budget. National-security aides were reportedly steering Clinton away from granting clemency to Jonathan Pollard, the former Navy intelligence official who spied for Israel in the 1980s and is now serving a life sentence. Officials said it's possible the president would wait weeks or months before responding to an Israeli clemency request. Michael Jordan is to announce his retirement from basketball today, several media groups said. If so, it will be the second time in five years he's walked away from a game he helped redefine. Besides winning six NBA titles, the five-time Most Valuable Player has led the league in scoring 10 times in 13 seasons and averaged 31.5 points a game for the Chicago Bulls - the most in league history.

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