News In Brief

THE US

President Clinton and House Speaker Gingrich were to square-off yesterday at a pensioners picnic for a question and answer session on America's future. Gingrich was in the midst of a high-profile, campaign-style tour of New Hampshire. Meanwhile, Wisconsin Governor Thompson said he won't seek the Republican nomination for president, ending months of speculation. And a Newsweek magazine poll of 755 adults revealed that Senator Dole would beat Clinton 49 percent to 40 percent if a head-to-head presidential election were held today.

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Conservative Republicans who have led the House drive for a large-scale tax cut are signaling a willingness to compromise, the Wall Street Journal said. Leaders of the bloc of more than 80 conservatives said they would support a compromise with the Senate if it gives families a tax credit for each child and reduces investors' capital-gains taxes. A House-Senate conference committee got under way to reconcile the House and Senate plans to balance the budget by 2002.

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The US, seeking to cut its foreign aid budget, is closing the US Agency for International Development offices in Chad, US Ambassador Larry Pope said yesterday. Last week, the House narrowly passed legislation that slashes foreign aid and abolishes three agencies. The measure authorizes $16.4 billion for foreign assistance and other international operations, about 10 percent less than the administration requested. It retains current levels of aid to Egypt and Israel.

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In a victory for insurance agencies, the House Commerce Committee dropped a proposal that would allow banks to make further inroads into the insurance industry. The House Banking Committee already approved a banking-reform bill that would repeal the Glass-Steagall Act and tear down Depression-era barriers between commercial banks and securities firms.

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In his weekly radio address, Clinton said young adults who take even one drink before driving should be hit with the full force of state penalties for drunken driving. He called on Congress to push states toward "zero tolerance" laws for underage motorists who drink. Aides said Congress could threaten states with sanctions such as a reduction in federal highway assistance or offer them incentives to impose tough penalties on young drunk drivers.

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IBM was expected to announce yesterday that it has reached a friendly deal to buy Lotus Development Corp. for more than $3.3 billion, a deal that started with a hostile bid.

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The US Justice Department appears to be racing to finish another antitrust investigation of Microsoft Corp. In addition to investigating Microsoft's on-line network, Justice is examining licensing agreements for the new Windows software to see if they would unduly limit other companies from filing patent-infringement lawsuits against Microsoft.

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Some 110,000 employees of AT&T Corp. will be asked to ratify a new three-year contract that increases wages by more than 10 percent and enhances health care and other benefits. The agreement was reached Friday.

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In what may be the largest discrimination suit ever filed against the federal government, more than 50 Hispanic agents have accused the Immigration and Naturalization Service of discrimination. The plaintiffs hold jobs ranging from border patrol agent to senior special agent. They are arguing, however, that too many Mexican-Americans are hired for menial jobs. The INS has denied the allegations.

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Oklahoma City bombing victims lashed out at a company they believe made the fertilizer used in the attack. They are suing ICI Explosives USA Inc., which makes ammonium nitrate fertilizer and explosives. The 4,800-pound bomb was made of an explosive mixture of fuel oil and the fertilizer, authorities said.

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Five Cuban men were acquitted of charges that they commandeered a Cuban government-owned boat to get to the US. INS had been holding the defendants. The case was unusual because hijackings of Cuban boats usually end with the crew members being sent home.

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New York City's police commissioner promised to clean the dirt out of his department in the wake of a drunken rampage by officers in a hotel. William Bratton said a new strategy will be implemented this week.

THE WORLD

Serbia is continuing to supply Bosnian Serbs with money, training, and war supplies, the New York Times reported, citing US and European officials. The paper said Serbia maintains the air defenses that shot down Capt. Scott O'Grady last week. Bosnian Serbs indicated they will release the remaining UN hostages soon, while the UN virtually ruled out force for now against the Bosnian Serbs. The UN handed over to separatist Serbs food bound for hungry Muslims in Sokolac after the Serbs blocked a convoy there. US Defense Secretary Perry said lifting the arms embargo on the Bosnian government would lead to further US military involvement in the war. The House voted last week to lift the embargo.

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Syrian and Israeli army chiefs will meet in Washington June 27 for key talks on security arrangements to be implemented in a peace deal, including the scope and timing of any Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights. After meeting PLO chief Arafat, US Secretary of State Christopher drove to Jordan to brief King Hussein on his current peace mission, then departed for Washington. Earlier, he met in Cairo with Egyptian President Mubarak and Israeli Prime Minister Rabin.

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G-7 leaders are to meet in Halifax Thursday, just as world economic growth is slowing and as the car-trade dispute between Japan and the US drags on Jobs, stability, and expanding trade are expected to be key issues.

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Cuba said Robert Vesco, the fugitive swindler wanted in the US for stealing more than $200 million, has been arrested on suspicion of being a foreign agent. The US has sought Vesco for 22 years on fraud charges and has told Cuba it wants him back.

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North Korean and US negotiators, having reached tentative agreement aimed at carrying out an accord to halt the North's suspected nuclear weapons program, will now begin work on the more difficult details, Robert Gallucci, the State Department official in charge of the nuclear issue, said.

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The worst of Mexico's financial crisis is over, according to Mexico's central bank governor. The exodus of foreign capital will mean a decline in GDP of 2 percent to 4 percent in 1995, followed by a rebound next year, he predicted. Meanwhile, the Caribbean Community, made up of 13 countries, agreed to lower tariffs on agricultural imports from outside the bloc from 45 percent to 20 percent.

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At least 30 people were killed and up to 250 others were wounded when a large bomb exploded at a music festival in Medellin, Colombia. No motive has been established.

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In elections, French voters went to the polls in nationwide municipal elections yesterday. Observers were watching to see if the Right would benefit from President Chirac's victory last month. In Poland, with a national poll planned for the fall, President Walesa failed in a bid for support from Solidarity, the trade union he founded 10 years ago. Italians voted on 12 referendums, two of which could strip down Premier Berlusconi's TV empire. Guineans voted in their first multiparty election. And three opposition parties in Nepal asked King Birendra for a chance to form a government after Communist rulers called for snap general elections.

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About 300 youths of Asian origin went on a weekend rampage in the northern English city of Bradford , hurling gasoline bombs and bricks at police. The rioting was sparked by the arrest of two members of an Asian gang.

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A Bangladeshi court rejected a plea to stop the blasphemy trial of female author Taslima Nasrin.

ETCETERA

We don't need to debate. We don't need to score points off each other. We should talk about our ideas and our visions of America's future."

-- House Speaker Gingrich on his face-to-face forum with President Clinton

Germany's Steffi Graf defeated Spain's top-seed Arantxa Sanchez Vicario 7-5, 4-6, 6-0 in the French Open final to regain her No. 1 world ranking. Graf burst into tears after her victory. Austrian Thomas Muster defeated American Michael Chang in the men's final.

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Parts of documentary films of some celebrated battles of World Wars I and II were faked, British researchers now say.

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If anyone ever tells New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson to take a flying leap, he can say, "Been there, done that." The Republican kicked off the national hang-gliding championships Saturday by soaring from Sandia Peak.

Top 10 Pop Singles

1. "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?" Bryan Adams (A&M)

2. "Water Runs Dry," Boyz II Men (Motown)

3. "Total Eclipse of the Heart," Nicki French (Critique)

4. "Don't Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days)," Monica (Rowdy)

5. "Scream - Childhood," Michael Jackson & Janet Jackson (Epic)

6. "This Is How We Do It," Montell Jordan (Island) (Platinum)

7. "I'll Be There for You (You're All I Need to Get By)," Method Man featuring Mary J. Blige (Def Jam)

8. "Freak Like Me," Adina Howard (Mecca Don-EastWest) (Gold)

9. "I Believe," Blessid Union of Souls (EMI)

10. "Let Her Cry," Hootie & the Blowfish (Atlantic)

(Platinum signifies more than 1 million copies sold; Gold signifies more than 500,000 copies sold.)

- Billboard-Soundscan Inc.-Broadcast Data Systems

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