SINGAPORE LIKELY TO PERMIT CANING Singapore's Cabinet is expected to meet today and reject pleas to stop the flogging of an American teenager charged with spray-painting cars and other acts of vandalism. The case of Michael Fay, a high school student that police say went on a spree of vandalism with other youthful expatriates last fall, has received worldwide attention. Last week, Mr. Fay's lawyers submitted a formal clemency plea to Singapore President Ong Teng Cheong. In an interview for US publication, one Cabinet minister said clemency for Fay was ``politically untenable.'' The beating, done with a bamboo rod, would likely take place a day or two after the Cabinet decision. Consumer confidence up

Consumer confidence soared in April to the highest level since July 1990, the Conference Board said Tuesday, as recent interest rate increases failed to dampen Americans' optimism about jobs and personal finance. The index jumped 5 points to 91.7 in April, the highest reading since 101.7 in July 1990. Meanwhile, the Labor Department reported wages and benefits paid to workers rose a modest 3.2 percent in the year ended March 31, the smallest rise since the department began gathering the employment cost data in 1982. This indicates that an improving economy is still not putting upward pressure on wages. Haiti adviser resigns

The US State Department's top adviser on Haiti is stepping down following a prolonged conflict with exiled president Jean-Bertrand Aristide over how to return democratic rule to Haiti. Lawrence Pezzullo, a former foreign service officer who came out of retirement to be an adviser, decided to resign after a policy meeting with US Secretary of State Warren Christopher, an official said yesterday. No welfare taxes

The Clinton administration is paring back an ambitious plan to overhaul the welfare system and help the working poor with child-care costs because it cannot scrape up enough money. In the latest turn in the administration's painful search for dollars to finance welfare reform, aides said Tuesday that Clinton had ruled out a $3.1 billion tax on gambling establishments and any other new taxes. Abortion protests

Congressional negotiators agreed on prison sentences of up to 18 months for abortion protesters who block or damage clinics or intimidate patients or staff. Negotiators on Tuesday resolved differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill, both passed last November. The compromise now returns to the House and Senate for final votes.

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