News In Brief

By , Judy Nichols, and Noel Paul

In one of the first attempts to limit campaign financing in a congressional race, both candidates for New York's hotly contested US Senate seat agreed to ban soft-money advertising. Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton and Rep. Rick Lazio (R) said they would instruct their parties and supporting organizations not to air television and radio ads that boost their candidacy or attack their opponent. Such so-called "issue ads," which do not explicitly endorse a candidate, can be paid for by unlimited donations to parties or organizations. Analysts, who raised questions about the deal working, said the move would likely benefit Lazio, because he has more "hard money" to spend than does Mrs. Clinton. (Story, page 2.)

Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House could once again be opened to vehicular traffic, according to a new design plan sponsored by Washington business and civic leaders. Advocates say two low pedestrian bridges would allow only smaller vehicles to pass underneath, thereby relieving traffic backups and removing the "image of fortification" in the area, The Washington Post reported. President Clinton closed the street five years ago because of concerns that terrorists might target the White House. Although the bridges would bar large vehicles with the capacity to carry explosives, the Secret Service said the design still would leave the White House vulnerable to attack.

Sales of existing homes rose 9.3 percent last month, the biggest leap in 14 months, the National Association of Realtors said. Analysts, who were expecting a more moderate increase, attributed the reading to Americans taking advantage of a reprieve from rising interest rates.

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Clinton extended federal protection of central California's Big Sur region, saying the $4.55 million acquisition of former ranch land would safeguard endangered trout and butterflies. Clinton used the announcement to highlight his proposal to establish a $1.4 billion annual endowment for land conservation funded by offshore oil leases. The environment, experts said, is a vital election-year campaign issue, particularly in California, where Democrats hope to win back a slate of congressional seats.

Asylum requests likely will be granted for a wave of Christian Iraqi refugees crossing into the US from Mexico, officials with the Immigration and Naturalization Service said. By Sunday, the INS had processed 188 Chaldeans, as they also are known. But at least 40 remained in Tijuana, Mexico, where authorities launched a crackdown last week after learning a hotel there was being used as a sort of halfway house for asylum-seekers. The refugees claim religious and political persecution in their predominantly Muslim homeland.

The board of Sotheby's auction house approved payment of its half of a $512 million settlement to resolve claims that it cheated buyers and sellers by conspiring with rival Christie's to fix fees. The amount, which The New York Times first reported at the end of last week, is one of the largest antitrust settlements to date. Details about Christie's participation in the deal, however, were unavailable. In a separate settlement, Sotheby's said it agreed to pay $30 million and issue $40 million in Class A stock to resolve claims with shareholders. Both auction houses are still targets of a federal criminal antitrust investigation.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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