News In Brief

President Clinton gave Russia's diplomatic offensive an unexpected boost, offering envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin the possibility of both a pause in NATO bombing and negotiations on a peace-keeping force for Kosovo. That means Chernomyrdin should have more leverage in his discussions with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, although US officials said Clinton had not softened allied conditions for ending airstrikes. Chernomyrdin met separately with Vice President Al Gore - and was expected to meet in New York with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The Senate rejected a bid to give Clinton authority to use "all necessary force" in the Balkans. The vote was 78 to 22 in favor of a leadership motion to set aside the measure, proposed by Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona and Sen. Joseph Biden (D) of Delaware. The administration vigorously opposed the legislation.

Clinton was to fly to NATO headquarters in Brussels for an update on the air war in the Balkans. He was then to fly to Germany to meet with US troops.

Tornadoes too numerous to count roared across Oklahoma and Kansas, killing at least 45 people and injuring hundreds of others. More than 1,000 homes were destroyed in Oklahoma City alone, police said. The storm killed 11 people in Bridge Creek, about 30 miles southwest of the city. The state Emergency Management Office also reported fatalities in nearby Midwest City, Moore, Del City, and Norman. Tornadoes in the same storm system killed at least five people in Wichita, Kan.

Iraq is placing air-defense missiles and radar posts in civilian areas, the Pentagon reported. A spokesman said US fighters broke off an attack on an air-defense radar near the northern city of Mosul after realizing the radar was in a civilian area. An Iraqi news agency said the attack killed two civilians and wounded 12 others.

A Littleton, Colo., man was arrested on suspicion of supplying a semiautomatic handgun to the Columbine High School gunmen. The arrest came as Columbine students returned to classes at another school, nearly two weeks after the massacre that left 15 dead. Mark Manes was released on bond after being booked for investigation of providing a handgun to a minor, a charge that carries a maximum six years in prison.

New Hampshire repealed a ban on homosexuals becoming adoptive or foster parents, leaving Florida the only state with such a prohibition. The new law abolished a 1988 statute that said gays and lesbians could not become foster parents or adopt children. The repeal passed overwhelmingly in the legislature and was signed by Gov. Jeanne Shaheen (D), despite opposition from the Christian Coalition.

Clinton was expected to unveil new measures to aid consumers in the financial marketplace. White House officials said the package included a bill that would require banks and insurance companies to get consumers' approval before selling or sharing information about their customers.

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