News In Brief

The World

Iran admitted to a military buildup at the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow waterway through which half of the world's oil passes. Tehran denied US allegations that it also deployed chemical weapons and said the buildup is defensive. US Defense Secretary Perry wrapped up a six-day visit to Gulf states, having gained agreement to position weapons and supplies that could support a US armored division.

Russia confirmed it is committed to selling nuclear technology to Iran and dismissed US concerns that the sales could help Tehran develop nuclear weapons. US Secretary of State Christopher and Russian Foreign Minister Kozyrev began talks in Geneva yesterday, discussing the deal with Iran. Christopher said Russia's war in Chechnya was ''foolhardy'' and would block Moscow's efforts to gain an expanded role in the June G-7 meeting in Halifax. Russian forces yesterday captured the Chechen town of Argun, a key rebel stronghold.

Russia called for extension of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. China said it supported the treaty but retains a right to conduct underground testing. In Cairo, Arab foreign ministers reportedly gave a nod to the treaty when they dropped a united opposition to Israel's nuclear program. They said they will coordinate with non-aligned states. The NPT is up for renewal in April. The US deal to stop North Korea's suspected nuclear-weapons program is faltering, the Los Angeles Times reported.

A UN humanitarian airlift to Sarajevo was to resume today. It was suspended March 11 after attacks on planes. As fighting in Bosnia mocked the 10-week-old cease-fire, Serb leader Karadzic said he would rule out any negotiations if he could confirm reports that the US has armed the Muslim-led Bosnian government. Russia presented a plan to end the war, reportedly worked out with Serbia, to Christopher in Geneva.

Japanese police want to question the missing leader of a cult suspected of the Tokyo nerve-gas attack, the Japanese media said. The police raided cult buildings for a second day, finding more chemicals used to make nerve gas. US officials in Washington said the Tokyo attack could speed the lagging approval of a 1993 international chemical-weapons convention.

Turkey's attack on Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq is killing Kurdish civilians and destroying some of their homes, the UN said. A five-year-old girl was reported killed in an air raid. (Story, Page 1.)

Italian Renato Ruggiero was chosen to head the World Trade Organization, the referee for the world's new GATT agreement. South Korean Kim Chul Su becomes deputy leader in a compromise deal. Former Mexican President Salinas withdrew from the contest earlier this month when his brother was implicated in a political assassination.

Nigeria will free Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo in response to appeals from Jimmy Carter, a Lagos newspaper reported. Carter was on a four-day visit to Nigeria to discuss the plight of political prisoners.

Israel eased a round-the-clock curfew imposed Sunday in the West Bank town of Hebron after suspected Muslim militants killed two Jewish settlers. Hebron residents went to Israel's high court to end the curfew.

Two Americans held in Iraq are safe and being treated well, Iraq's Trade Minister Mohammed Mehdi said at a press conference yesterday. He said no decision has been made to try them on charges of breaking border-crossing laws.

Denmark arrested Gary Lauck, a leading American neo-Nazi. Police in Germany raided the homes of his followers there. Lauck has been sought in several European nations for years as the supplier of anti-Semitic newspapers , leaflets, and bumper stickers.

The US

The Congressional Budget Office predicted that all 50 states will fail to meet the job requirements of the proposed House Republican welfare bill, the Washington Post reported. Pointing to the experiences of states that have tried to move welfare recipients into jobs, the CBO suggested that the work requirements are unrealistic, the paper said. Under the bill, 90 percent of all welfare families with two adults would be required to participate in job activities by 1998. The House was expected to resume debate on the bill. (Wisconsin welfare reform, Page 1.)

As Congress debates the welfare-reform package, thousands of green-card holders have rushed to apply for citizenship. A provision in the legislation would eliminate Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Aid to Families With Dependent Children, and food stamps for an estimated 2.2 million legal alien residents.

Senator Specter said he would shield a $1.3 billion home-heating aid program for the poor from budget cutters. The assistance program was among the most controversial cuts the House made when it voted last week to cancel $17 billion in already-enacted spending.

The Senate Commerce Committee approved a sweeping reform of the nation's telecommunication law that will make it easier for local and long-distance telephone companies and cable television firms to compete with each other. But the measure was approved with the provision that senators could still amend it prior to going to the full Senate.

House Republicans promised to overhaul a federal law that protects lakes and rivers from pollution, vowing to ease the regulatory burden on industry, agriculture, and local communities. The administration said the Clean Water Act was being rewritten largely by the industries it is designed to regulate. On Wednesday, about 20 conservation groups launched a nationwide campaign against moves toward environmental deregulation.

The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits rose by 3,000 last week, the third-consecutive weekly increase. New applications for unemployment insurance totaled a seasonally adjusted 346,000, the Labor Department reported.

Congressman Torricelli alleged that a paid agent of the CIA ordered the killings of an American citizen and a Guatemalan guerrilla leader married to an American lawyer, the New York Times reported. Torricelli said the CIA knew about the killings but concealed the information, the paper said. The guerrilla's widow has been petitioning the White House to disclose her husband's fate.

Amnesty International said the US is increasingly reimposing the death penalty. It said the US is one of four countries reported to have executed juveniles since 1990. Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Yemen have each executed one youth; the US has executed six.

A Nassau County Executive said he wants Colin Ferguson moved to a state prison immediately. Ferguson was convicted of killing six people and wounding 19 on a Long Island commuter train. He was sentenced to six consecutive sentences of 25 years to life.

A former postal worker, who said he was burdened with a ''mountain of debt,'' was charged with shooting to death four men in a holdup at a small post office in Montclair, N.J. The one survivor of the attack helped identify Christopher Green.

Brian ''Kato'' Kaelin was to return to the stand for a third day of testimony in the O. J. Simpson murder trial. Kaelin testified that on the night of the murders, he never saw Simpson return to his house after the two of them made a quick trip to McDonalds.


Undaunted by the refusal of six Canadian wolves to leave their pens this week for the great outdoors, scientists at Yellowstone National Park offered three more wolves their freedom. They, too, made no move to leave.

Palestinian and Samaritan leaders yesterday offered $13,000 for the recovery of two centuries-old manuscripts stolen this week from the ancient Samaritan religious sect in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Charleston, S.C , has ordered artist Robert Burke to put his mural -- a cartoonlike tableau of brightly colored skies, smiling mountains, and fantastic creatures -- under wraps. It's too garish for the historical district, according to a city ordinance.

The Union Electric Company in St. Louis is paying the World Bird Sanctuary $25,000 to find out why woodpeckers prefer to live, eat, and store their belongings in utility poles.

Consumer Reports 10 Best and Worst Used Cars

Most Reliable, 1987-93

Model Years*

Honda Accord 6

Nissan Maxima 5

Toyota Corolla 5

Acura Legend 4

Lexus LS400 4

(not made '87-89)

Acura Integra 3

Honda Prelude 3

Infiniti G20 3

(not made '87-90)

Nissan Pathfinder 3

Toyota Celica 3

Least Reliable, 1987-93

Model Years

Ford Bronco 6

Chevrolet Camero 4


Suburban 4

Eagle Premier 4

(not made in '87 or '93)

Ford Taurus SHO 4

(not made '87-88)

Hyundai Excel 4

Jeep Wrangler 4

Ford Taurus

(4-cylinder) 3

(not made in '90-93)

Ford Tempo-

Mercury Topaz 3

Pontiac Sunbird 3

(* indicates number of years on Consumer Reports list)

Consumers Union

``The personal relationships I have established with area leaders will lead to extended access to bases and ports and more effective crises response.''

Defense Secretary Perry, upon completing a six-day visit to the Gulf

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