News In Brief

In the worst flooding since 1953, tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from low-lying Dutch farmland. As the flood emergency began to recede in Belgium, Germany, and France, the Dutch geared up for a major battle. Newspapers report that up to 200,000 people may be evacuated if the flooding spreads west to other low-lying areas. About 1,000 soldiers were brought in to help with the evacuation.

Ecuador said it has accepted a cease-fire in its border conflict with Peru, but there was no immediate word on the agreement from Lima. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and the US mediated the accord. Peru, Ecuador, and the four countries are to form a commission to monitor the cease-fire, but the Ecuadoran government said it would not attend unless Peru also agreed to the cease-fire. Ecuador never resigned itself to an accord ending a border war 53 years ago.

Israeli Prime Minister Rabin ordered the cancellation of an unpopular capital-gains tax, after first pledging it would never be imposed and then promising not to bow to public pressure against it. The move was designed to boost Rabin's sagging popularity, but his inconsistency may be having the opposite effect. Israeli polls show that if elections were held now, the legislature would become predominately right wing, and Rabin would be beaten handily by the the opposition.

The death toll from a suicide bombing in Algiers has climbed to 40, according to Algerian state radio. The deaths were caused by a car bomb that appeared to be aimed at police headquarters. The car was packed with more than 220 pounds of explosives, security forces said. Nearly 300 people were injured in the explosion. No one has claimed responsibility, but officials blame Muslim fundamentalists, who have been rebelling against the government for three years. It was the first reported suicide bombing in Algeria since the rebellion began in 1992.

The 6,000 US troops in Haiti will be replaced by UN peacekeepers within two months, now that a ``secure and stable'' environment exists there, the Security Council said. The Council passed a resolution calling for the deployment of up to 6,000 peacekeepers and 900 civilian police by March 31. The resolution passed 14-0, with China abstaining. The peacekeepers will maintain security, help the government organize a new police force, and professionalize the army.

France called for a ``last chance'' conference on the former Yugoslavia, saying the alternative was more fighting and the collapse of UN peace efforts. Prime Minister Juppe said only ``a summit meeting of the main protagonists in the tragedy,'' followed by an international conference, could salvage negotiations. Juppe said he was announcing the initiative in coordination with the US and Russia. The US and Russia warned of renewed conflict in Croatia after Serbian President Milosevic snubbed the latest peace proposal. In Croatia, rebel Serbs said they wouldn't discuss the plan unless UN peacekeepers were to remain there. (Story, Page 6.) Meanwhile, in Bosnia, the government appeared split over alleged Muslim domination of the Army.

Talks between Yemen and Saudi Arabia are facing difficulties, Yemen said, but should be resolved peacefully. The two sides are trying to settle a dispute over a potentially oil-rich border area. Yemen earlier accused Saudi Arabia of massing troops along the border, which Saudi Arabia denied.

President Clinton Dumped his $40 billion Mexico aid package after congressional leaders told him chances for its approval were slim. Clinton told the National Governors' Association he would authorize a $20 billion loan guarantee, while the International Monetary Fund would back $17.5 billion. Another $10 billion would come from the Bank of International Settlement. ``The risks of inaction are greater than the risks of decisive action,'' he said ``This is the right thing to do.'' (Story, Page 3.) House Speaker Gingrich said Medicare needs to be reinvented to give senior citizens more health-care choices. Criticizing Medicare's highly centralized structure, he called for the creation of a task force including members from senior citizens' groups, the American Hospital Association, and medical societies to revamp the program.

House Republicans fought off 170 Democratic amendments to the unfunded-mandates bill and pushed to pass it by midweek. Passed by the Senate and supported by Clinton, it would require the federal government to pay for laws and regulations it imposes on states and localities if the cost is more than $50 million.

The Senate planned a second day of debate on the balanced-budget amendment. Republicans are hunting for hundreds of billions of dollars in savings needed to balance the federal budget by 2002. Democrats are slowing the debate, insisting that the GOP specify what it would cut. (State outlook, Page 4.)

Economists predicted that the Federal Reserve would announce a seventh interest-rate increase Feb. 1. They said the Fed would probably hike the federal funds rate and the discount rate 0.5 percent. A group of House Democrats and housing-industry representatives appealed for a delay in rate increases until the economy's response to previous credit tightening becomes clearer. Some analysts say a rate hike will not greatly affect long-term yields. Meanwhile, the Employment Cost Index showed employment costs up only 3 percent in 1994, the smallest increase on record.

The Agriculture Department proposed new meat-testing rules involving the use of modern technology. The proposal would require federal meat inspectors to use microbial testing, antimicrobial rinses, temperature controls, and standardized sanitation techniques. In the meantime, the industry would adopt a system to prevent contamination. The testing would take effect next year, while the contamination-control system would take several years to implement.

The US Postal Service and postal workers agreed to enter active mediation to settle contract differences. The workers have worked without a contract since November 1994.

The Smithsonian canceled an exhibit on the atomic bombing of Japan in World War II after heavy criticism from veterans' groups, who claimed it showed the US as aggressor and Japan as victim. The museum will display only the fuselage of the Enola Gay, the plane that bombed Hiroshima. Japanese leaders and bomb survivors expressed regret at the move.

In the O. J. Simpson trial, first witnesses were expected to appear after the prosecution finished an additional 10-minute rebuttal to the defense's opening statement. Judge Ito granted the unusual time to the prosecution as a sanction for the defense's hiding of witness from prosecutors. Finishing his opening remarks, defense lawyer Johnnie Cochran severely criticized police handling of evidence and said Simpson was playing golf in his yard at the time his ex-wife and her friend were murdered. It was not clear how this squared with the defense contention that Simpson's physical condition on the day of the murders meant he could not have committed them.

Former Housing Secretary Jack Kemp has announced that he won't be a candidate for the presidency in 1996, partly because he does not want to spend his life raising campaign funds. The current GOP front-runner is Senator Dole. r

Scientists have produced strong evidence that tiny particles called neutrinos do indeed have mass. The finding by scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico means that neutrinos could account for much of the long-sought missing matter that cosmologists believe fills and shapes the universe.

Keith Lockhart, associate conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony and Cincinnati Pops orchestras, will reportedly be the next conductor of the Boston Pops. He will succeed renowned composer John Williams, who retired as Pops conductor last year.

One of the 29 Canadian gray wolves released into the US Northern Rockies in January has been found shot to death in Idaho, lying near the body of a newborn calf it apparently had just attacked. A controversial plan to reintroduce wolves allows ranchers to kill a wolf if it is found attacking livestock. BEST-SELLING NONFICTION BOOKS IN THE US

1. ``Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus,'' John Gray (HarperCollins)

2. ``In the Kitchen With Rosie,'' Rosie Daley (Knopf)

3. ``The Hot Zone,'' Richard Preston (Random House)

4. ``Crossing the Threshold of Hope,'' John Paul II (Knopf)

5. ``Illuminata,'' Marianne Williamson (Random House)

6. ``Food,'' Susan Powter (Simon & Schuster)

7. ``Inside the White House,'' Ronald Kessler (Pocket Books)

8. ``The Warren Buffet Way,'' Robert Hagstrom Jr. (Wiley)

9. ``The Book of Virtues,'' William J. Bennett (Simon & Schuster)

10. ``Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,'' John Berendt (Random House)

- Publishers Weekly

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