News In Brief

A "culture of gift-giving" in the Olympic movement was condemned by a US Olympic Committee commission investigating corruption in the awarding of the 2002 Winter Games to Salt Lake City. The panel, led by former Sen. George Mitchell, said the International Olympic Committee should drop its tradition of appointing members for life and have them elected by national committees, sports federations, or other constituent bodies. It also recommended that the IOC have regular audits and make public its financial records, that bidding cities and national Olympic panels not give gifts to IOC members, and that travel expenses be handled by a central IOC fund.

Incomes in the US grew briskly in January, but the pace of consumer spending cooled, the Commerce Department reported. It said incomes gained 0.6 percent in the first month of the year after declining 0.1 percent in December. Consumer spending rose a moderate 0.3 percent, following a 0.7 percent increase in December.

US airstrikes "may or may not" have interrupted the flow of oil from Iraq to Turkey, Defense Secretary William Cohen said. Iraq has claimed that a US air attack on northern Iraq Sunday, one of many that have been conducted over the past few weeks, had hit a pumping station along a major oil pipeline. Iraqi officials said oil running from the northern Iraq to the Turkish port of Ceyhan carries 56 percent of the nation's oil exports. They also said three Iraqis were killed and others were injured in the latest US attack.

Two senators studying potential Y2K computer problems said Americans should prepare for Jan. 1, 2000, as they would for a hurricane - by stocking up on canned food and bottled water. Robert Bennett (R) of Utah and Christopher Dodd (D) of Connecticut spoke on CBS TV. Their draft report concludes nuclear weapons will not be affected, US aviation will be safe, and most of the nation's power grids will work. But it also says that serious problems are likely in some countries - and that many US medical services could be disrupted.

A Chinese man arrested in California is accused of trying to smuggle missile-guidance systems to his homeland, The New York Times reported. Yao Yi tried to buy fiber-optic gyroscopes from a Massachusetts defense contractor, according to a criminal complaint filed in Boston. When the State Department refused to approve the sale, Yao allegedly secured export of the gyroscopes from a dummy corporation set up by the Customs Service as part of a sting operation.

The Supreme Court left intact cross-burning convictions and prison sentences of three North Carolina men who tried to intimidate their neighbors, an interracial couple. The court, without comment, turned away arguments that a US antiarson law was wrongly used to add five years to each man's prison term - and that the convictions violated their free-speech rights.

New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (R) fired the head of the state police for saying minority groups are more likely to be involved in drug trafficking. Police Superintendent Col. Carl Williams was under fire over allegations his agency targeted minorities for traffic stops.

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