News In Brief


US and Italian troops dug in at Mogadishu airport as 900 Bangladeshi peacekeeping troops left for home. The remaining 1,500 Pakistani soldiers are set to leave March 1. In the northern breakaway region of Somaliland, radio reports said heavy fighting including tanks and artillery killed seven and wounded 22. The Red Cross in Geneva said the fighting has displaced 150,000 people since November.


The collapse of Baring Brothers bank continued to reverberate around the world. Police in Singapore and Malaysia sought Nicholas Leeson and his wife, Lisa; he is the Barings trader whose futures deals lost the bank more than $1 billion. Asian stock markets rebounded from deep drops, and trading in London and New York was calm.


North Korea took another step toward dismantling the 1953 armistice system, ejecting Polish military observers from its side of the Demilitarized Zone. It booted out Czech troops in 1993 and withdrew from the armistice commission last year. Observers say Pyongyang wants to deal directly with the US and drive a wedge between Washington and South Korea.


A top Russian official said Moscow will focus relief and rebuilding efforts in Chechnya on rural areas. The military said it had surrounded Grozny and would soon eliminate Chechen resistance there. Defense Minister Grachev warned, however, that Chechen ''terrorist'' attacks against Russian troops would continue. The Army demanded entry into the town of Goity in exchange for sparing the town and avoiding civilian casualties.


Serbian authorities have abetted the murder, kidnapping, and harassment of ethnic minorities in rump Yugoslavia, government critics said. Non-Serbs make up 30 percent of the area's population. In Bosnia, the government army commander boasted that his forces were readier than ever to win the war. Concern is growing that the warring parties will not renew the four-month truce begun in January.


UN weapons inspectors said Iraq can't explain what happened to 22 tons of biological-weapons materials. Chief inspector Rolf Ekeus said Iraq imported the materials in the late 1980s. US Ambassador Albright lobbied Britain, Italy, the Czech Republic, and Oman to keep UN sanctions against Iraq. France and Russia want to ease the oil embargo.


Chinese dissidents petitioned the legislature for a third straight day. They are asking for abolition of labor camps and an improved legal system. Authorities responded by detaining Wang Dan, a student leader during the 1989 Tiananmen protest, for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, government leaders warned of a lagging agricultural sector and a growing urban-rural income gap.


Iran has deployed Hawk missiles on islands at the entrance to the Gulf, the US said. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Shalikashvili said Iran has put the antiaircraft missiles on launchers and moved artillery into forward positions in the Strait of Hormuz. Iran and the United Arab Emirates both claim three islands.


Canadian Finance Minister Martin announced subsidy cuts of $25 billion over three years. The government will also privatize several state-owned companies and raise gasoline and corporate taxes to reduce its US$228 billion debt.


Two Pakistani Christians cleared of blasphemy charges arrived in Germany. They were fleeing death threats from Muslim militants who claimed they had scrawled anti-Islamic grafitti on a mosque. A court convicted them and sentenced the two to death, but the Lahore High Court overturned the convictions for lack of evidence. Prime Minister Bhutto has said she will amend the blasphemy law to make bringing charges more difficult.


The Senate was set to vote Feb. 28 on a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget by 2002. At press time, deals were being cut that made passage appear likely. In one concession to Democrats Nunn and Breaux, Republicans agreed on language that would bar the courts from imposing tax increases or spending cuts to enforce the amendment. All but one of the Senate's 53 Republican senators supported the measure, bringing it close to the two-thirds majority needed to send it to the states for ratification. Prospects for 38 states ratifying the amendment are uncertain.


Lamar Alexander, former governor of Tennessee, announced his candidacy for president Feb. 28. Alexander, the second GOP candidate to make a formal declaration, wants to establish himself as a reform-minded outsider in a Republican field dominated by Washington veterans.


Denver International Airport opened Feb. 28, 16 months late and $3.2 billion over budget. Officials marked the opening with fanfare, but the takeoff was a bit bumpy: Investors filed a lawsuit accusing the city of misrepresenting the airport's ability to pay for itself; fog and trouble with the landing system scrapped the first simultaneous triple landing; and the airport issued a snow alert for opening day.


The Pentagon's base closure list was sent to an independent commission for review. The list named 57 sites for closure, including 15 major bases or large facilities in a dozen states. Defense Secretary Perry said some bases were spared because they would be too costly to shut down.


With high mortgage rates locking many prospective home buyers out of the market, sales of previously owned homes fell 4.5 percent in January to the lowest level in 21 months, the National Association of Realtors said. Meanwhile, consumer confidence in the US economy fell in February, the second consecutive monthly decline, according to the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index.


The Supreme Court limited the scope of a federal law that allows people who say they were misled before buying stocks to rescind the deal if the sellers can't prove their innocence. In a 5-4 vote, the justices ruled that such legal rights are available only to people who buy a stock directly from a company during its initial public offering.


Millions of legitimate tax refunds are being delayed up to eight weeks as a result of an IRS crackdown on phony refund claims. About 1.5 million refunds have been held up so far, according to the congressional General Accounting Office. The Internal Revenue Service estimates that 7 million of 86 million projected refunds will be affected by the April 17 filing deadline.


The House planned to vote Feb. 28 on legislation that would make it more difficult for federal agencies to issue health, safety, and environmental regulations. The bill was expected to pass and be sent on to the Senate. President Clinton has hinted that he would veto the measure.


Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee backed away from a plan to bar unmarried teenage mothers from receiving cash welfare for the rest of their lives. Party moderates and some Republican governors argued that the lifetime ban was punitive. Under a new plan, states could still impose such a ban themselves, and no single mother could receive cash benefits before her 18th birthday.


Malcolm X's daughter, Qubilah Shabazz, feared that Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan would have her mother killed and hired a hit man to kill him, prosecution documents said. Shabazz's lawyers filed their own papers asking that the case be dismissed. They claimed that the defendant was set up.


Inadequate government testing and a rare form of icy precipitation may have contributed to the crash of an American Eagle commuter plane last October, two weather specialists said. Their findings were released at a National Transportation Safety Board hearing in Indianapolis.


It's a very unfortunate situation that Somalia has been translated in our public mind as a kind of metaphor for failure. The operation saved maybe half a million lives.''

-- Chester Crocker, former US assistant secretary of state

Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch said he did not mislead US regulators 10 years ago about who owned the TV network he was seeking to build. The NAACP charged the funds came from Murdoch's Australian holdings. US law prohibits foreign firms from owning more than 25 percent of a US broadcast company.


An art exhibit in Moscow has Germany fuming. At issue are paintings ''rescued'' from Germany during World War II and hidden for 50 years. Germany insists that the art be returned to its rightful owners.


The World in 1994


World total in 1994: 5.66 billion

Living in abject poverty: 1.3 billion

Living on $1 or less a day: 1.1 billion


Percentage of people in poverty in 1960: 70%

Percentage in poverty today: 32 %

Country with most poor: India, 350 million

Region with worst poverty: South Asia, 50%


Life expectancy in poorest countries in 1960: 53 years

Today: 62 years

Infant mortality per thousand in 1960: 110

Today: 73

Access to clean, safe water in 1960: 33%

Today: 68%


Workers in 1994: 2.8 billion

Looking for jobs: 120 million

Job income insufficient: 700 million


Number of refugees and emigrants today: 125 million

Under UN care in 1976: 2.8 million

Today: 23 million

United Nations; Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

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