Sandbaggers and flood-weary western Illinois residents breathed a sigh of relief after a lighter-than-expected round of weekend rain and a forecast of clear skies yesterday. Earlier, hundreds of sandbaggers battled to shore up levees along the rain-swollen Illinois River, which has forced hundreds of people from their homes. The river was up to 25.8 feet Monday night and was expected to crest today. Recent heavy rains have flooded thousands of acres of farmland along the Illinois and Mississippi rivers and some smaller waterways. (Story, Page 4.)
The weather wreaked havoc in places other than the Midwest. Rescue workers searched for victims of a tornado that cut a destructive swath fives miles long and 300 yards wide in Massachusetts. The towns of Great Barrington, Monterey, and Egremont were hardest hit. Three people were confirmed dead, and at least two dozen were injured.
The bodies of the last three victims of the Oklahoma City bombing were pulled from the wreckage of the federal building. The recovery brought the death toll from the April 19 attack to 168. Army friends Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols have been charged in the bombing under a federal antiterrorism statute and could face the death penalty if convicted. Authorities are also pursuing other suspects.
US Agriculture Secretary Glickman and EU Agriculture Commissioner Fischler will meet in Denver Friday, returning to the forefront long-simmering US-EU disputes over farm goods. As a first step, Glickman said it is time for action on a European ban on meat produced with growth hormones, which the US says unfairly keeps an estimated $100 million worth of US beef out of the EU every year. Glickman and Fischler will meet again next week in Washington.
Clinton pledged yesterday to veto a GOP overhaul of federal pollution policy. He accused the majority Republicans of conspiring with industry lobbyists in redrafting the 1972 Clean Water Act. The legislation would ease federal waterway protection from urban, industrial, and farmland pollution.
Economists examining a string of lackluster economic reports said pressure is building for the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates. Factory orders and industrial production are down, unemployment is up, and sales of existing homes have hit their lowest level in nearly three years. Some experts said lower interest rates would renew the expansion.
The latest measure of consumer confidence showed a decline from last month. The reading for May was 101.6, down three points from April, but still strong. The Conference Board survey found consumers are less positive in their assessment of current conditions and less optimistic about the months ahead.
The White House was expected to announce the appointment of a financial control board to oversee the District of Columbia's municipal government, with a former Federal Reserve governor, Andrew Brimmer, named as head of the five-member organization. The municipal government's $3.25 billion budget is expected to run a deficit as high as $722 million this year.
During a White House ceremony unveiling a new postage stamp in honor of missing veterans and prisoners of war, President Clinton said Hanoi was doing more than ever to help account for the 2,205 Americans still listed as missing in action in Vietnam. He said a recent US delegation to Hanoi had made progress and Vietnam was turning over essential documents.
The Supreme Court agreed to clarify the deadline for people to file late federal income-tax returns and still get refunds if too much money was withheld from their paychecks. It also relaxed the deadlines for workers who want to sue their companies for failing to give advance notice of plant closings and mass layoffs.
The federal government watched farm labor leader Cesar Chavez for more than seven years in the 1960s and '70s, investigating reports he was a Communist or ''subversive,'' the Los Angeles Times reported. FBI agents compiled a 1,434 page file on Chavez. The Times obtained a copy of the file.
NATO pledged to give the fragile UN peacekeeping force in Bosnia up to 40,000 more troops to prevent a repeat of the hostage crisis. NATO ministers discussed rapid-reaction forces and opening a protected land corridor to supply Sarajevo. US Secretary of State Christopher said the US, which has no ground forces in Bosnia, would supply ''appropriate support.'' About 2,000 US Marines are now in the Adriatic. The vanguard of 6,200 British reinforcements began arriving in the area, and France has more troops and supplies on the way. Germany and Russia backed the firm stand, as did the EU. The Bosnian Serbs, still holding about 370 peacekeepers, said they would shoot down any NATO flights over the area of Bosnia they control. They also blocked an airlift of the bodies of two French peacekeepers killed several days ago.
Russia will start a new relationship with NATO this week. US Secretary of State Christopher said the move opens a ''new era'' in relations with Moscow. Russia earlier pledged to participate in the alliance's Partnership for Peace program, but froze plans five months ago when NATO decided to admit former Soviet Bloc countries. Meanwhile, Russia said its economy is finally showing signs of growth.
Russian President Yeltsin proclaimed today a national day of mourning for victims of the Sakhalin Island earthquake, which could claim up to 2,500 lives. Rescuers were fighting fog, freezing temperatures, and time.
A North Korean patrol boat attacked a South Korean fishing vessel when it entered North Korean waters, killing two crew members. The boat was returning from China, where it had been held for illegal fishing.
India, concerned over political violence in Kashmir and the threat of Muslim-separatist disruptions, canceled plans to hold elections there, the New York Times reported. Meanwhile, Pakistani President Leghari said India is pushing Islamabad into a costly missile race that puts the region at risk.
Japan won initial backing in the World Trade Organization for its charge that US sanctions in a car-sales dispute go against WTO rules. But the US claim that Japanese carmakers' practices cause unequal competition in the Japanese market also won support. Meanwhile, Japan's jobless rate climbed to a record 3.2 percent in April.
Prince Charles was to start a visit to Ireland today. Charles is the first member of Britain's royal family to pay an official visit since the Irish republic was established in 1922.
Pope John Paul said he wants to talk with other Christian denominations about an accommodation on the role of the papacy. In a 115-page encyclical, he urged Protestants, Anglicans, and Orthodox Christians to begin a ''patient dialogue'' that could in no way renounce what ''is essential'' to his church's mission.
Rwanda's former Army, driven into exile after last year's ethnic slaughter, is being rearmed with the help of France, Zaire, and South Africa, New York-based Human Rights Watch said.
Lin Mu, a former top Chinese Communist official, urged China's legislature to end its crackdown on dissent. Mu, who was detained recently for working on a pro-tolerance petition, noted ''extremely intolerant treatment of people.''
Israel's Justice Ministry said it has begun work on holding a national referendum over withdrawal from the Golan Heights under a future peace treaty with Syria. A Syrian newspaper, known as a government mouthpiece, said a referendum would violate an existing security deal between the two nations and could wreck their peace talks.
As part of an effort to save the endangered panda, China plans to set up 14 new nature reserves, the English-language China Daily said. China spent more than $4.7 million trying to save the panda during the 1980s, but the animal's numbers still dwindled. It's now estimated that there are about 1,000 pandas in the wild.
Margaret Chase Smith, who died May 29, made history as the first woman to win election to both houses of the US Congress. The Maine Republican, who was known as ''the conscience of the Senate,'' spoke out against extremism.
California has replaced Florida as the most popular American travel spot for overseas visitors, a study by the US Travel and Tourism Administration found. The study also said New York remains the most popular US city to visit.
Are mortgage payments getting you down? Take heart. It could be worse. You could live in Tokyo. A square foot of Tokyo property cost $510 in 1994 compared with $16 in Los Angeles and $27 in London.
Names Chosen for the 1995 Hurricane Season
''As Russia progresses with democratic reform and demonstrates respect for international norms, we can deepen the relationship even further.''
US Secretary of State Warren Christopher