US Senate Republicans are framing a vote on an unemployment benefits package as a test of how serious the Democrats are about deficit cutting. Resuming action yesterday on the first piece of President Clinton's economic package extending jobless benefits the Senate planned to vote on a Republican amendment to pay the $5.7 billion cost with across-the-board cuts in government overhead.

Democrats, pressing to pass the bill before extended jobless benefits expire Saturday, argued that Congress should not tinker with pieces of the plan. The bill would give the long-term unemployed up to 26 additional weeks of benefits once they've exhausted their standard 26 weeks. Racketeering charges

The Supreme Court yesterday ruled that a federal anti-racketeering law cannot be used to sue accountants who commit fraud for a business client if they did not help manage or operate the business. The ruling could affect similar lawsuits against other outside professionals, such as lawyers and consultants. L.A. schools

California Gov. Pete Wilson (R) Tuesday nominated state Sen. Marian Bergeson (R) to succeed state schools chief Bill Honig. If confirmed by the Legislature, she would be the first woman to hold the job. Afghan agreement

Afghanistan's president and main factional leader met yesterday for the first time since the Communist government fell and completed a draft agreement. The leaders refused to release details until all 10 rebel chiefs have considered the agreement. L.A. riots sentence

In Los Angeles, Anthony Lamar Brown, a black man who pleaded guilty to attacking a motorist and spitting on white truck driver Reginald Denny as he lay beaten at the outset of last spring's riots, was sentenced to two years in prison. Customs fraud

In Los Angeles, a US Customs inspector Tuesday pleaded guilty to accepting $1.7 million in bribes in what officials called the largest scheme of its kind in agency history. He also admitted to helping to smuggle restricted goods and falsifying records so the importers could avoid inspections, quotas, and duties worth $5 million since 1987. He could face an 85-year prison term and $2 million fine. Algeria trials

In Algiers, police surrounded the Justice hall Wednesday as a special Algiers terrorism court began its first session with 80 Muslim fundamentalists on the docket. The 80 on trial are being judged in three separate cases of subversion and terrorism, 51 involved in just one case. Cult standoff

In Waco, Texas, the FBI put cult leader David Koresh's rambling religious message on the radio Tuesday, but he didn't keep his end of the bargain and refused to surrender. This extended an armed standoff into a fourth day. Four federal agents were killed in a shootout Sunday and a source said at least 10 members of the Branch Davidian cult were dead.

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