News In Brief

The US

President Clinton was to unveil his plan for a balanced budget in a five-minute TV spot last night. Spokesman Mike McCurry said Clinton believes the budget can be balanced in 10 years in a way that's consistent with his priorities. The television speech was to be an outline, not a full-fledged budget proposal.

House Speaker Gingrich - following a cordial meeting with Clinton over the weekend - suggested that the White House had not been telling the truth about GOP plans to curb growth of Medicare spending. Gingrich recommended more sessions between liberals and conservatives without a moderator. The White House played down the Speaker's remarks.

A spur-of-the-moment decision by Clinton and Gingrich in New Hampshire to create a commission on reforming lobbying and campaign-finance laws could delay progress on the issues rather than hasten it, members of Congress and lobbyists said. The Senate and House recently advanced reform bills long pushed by Democrats.

Inflation slowed in May, the Labor Department reported, with the consumer-price index rising 0.3 percent compared with a 0.4 percent increase in April. Retail sales rose just 0.2 percent to $192.9 billion in May, the Commerce Department said, after declining 0.3 percent in April. Analysts said the reports were good news for the Federal Reserve, which has been taking an inflation-fighting stance for a year.

The Supreme Court's ruling on affirmative action could complicate and delay the administration's review of affirmative-action programs, White House aides said. After the high court found a desegregation plan in Kansas City, Mo., too sweeping, state officials said they would begin handing some hefty costs - required by a lower-court order - back to the city.

Senators overhauling tele-communications laws are fighting over whether the Justice Department should have to approve a local phone company's effort to enter the long-distance business. The Bell companies argue that Justice would delay giving Americans greater choice in long-distance calling. (Story, Page 3.) Meanwhile, the FCC said it would adopt tougher rules against switching customers' long-distance companies without their knowledge. The Senate approved a plan to restrict children's access to sexually explicit programs on cable TV.

James Nichols, the brother of Oklahoma City bombing suspect Terry Nichols, drew a diagram of the targeted federal building and talked about blowing it up with a "megabomb" seven years ago, according to government documents. Because of the case's complexity, a federal judge gave the prosecution until Aug. 11 to indict suspect Timothy McVeigh.

US and European airliner manufacturers are debating whether to build bigger or faster planes, and the latter is winning out, the Wall Street Journal reported Business travelers want the faster planes, but tourists would benefit from the larger ones. A decision on the super-jumbo jets is expected next month.

Senator Dole sent out corrective campaign-contribution letters. The originals asked for more than the $1,000 allowed by federal law for a fund-raiser. An extra $5,000 requested in the first letter was to be a contribution to his PAC, which is legal.

The conglomerate ITT Corp. announced it would break into three companies in one of the biggest corporate breakups in history. The $25-billion company has interests ranging from auto parts to sports teams to financial services. It wants to focus on areas where it was once a leader.

A federal appeals court ordered the FBI to release documents on its investigation of the 1960s free-speech movement, saying there is evidence the investigation was prompted by politics, not by police work. Documents disclosed in the case, the court said, suggest protesters at the University of California, Berkeley, were investigated to subdue the FBI's political opponents on campus.

The World

The leader of the Bosnian Serbs said most of the UN peacekeepers his troops were holding had been set free. A Bosnian Serb news agency said 28 hostages were on a bus out of Bosnia. There was uncertainty regarding the other 100 peacekeepers the Serbs said were released. UN officials and the Serbs were to begin talks to try to guarantee security for convoys in eastern Bosnia where the aid shortage is desperate. The talks follow failed attempts to deliver relief supplies to Muslim-held enclaves. Rescued US fighter pilot Scott O'Grady received a hero's welcome from President Clinton in Washington.

At least 12 people were injured yesterday when police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at Palestinians who tried to stop Israel from bulldozing an Arab-owned house in East Jerusalem, witnesses said. The Israeli government said the house was built illegally. Hundreds of Jewish settlers and other Israelis opposed to government peace moves with the PLO took over 13 empty houses in the West Bank and called it a new settlement. The PLO said the settlers' action was a "provocation." Rival Palestinian factions fired rockets, mortars, and machine guns in Lebanon's largest refugee camp, killing at least 10 guerrillas. The clashes ended with a cease-fire yesterday.

Worries about Japan's economy kept share prices falling on the Tokyo Stock Exchange yesterday, one day after a key index plunged below 15,000 for the first time in nearly three years. The dollar also declined against the yen. (Story, Page 1.) The US and Japan ended their first day of talks with no sign of a breakthrough on their bitter car-trade dispute. Prime Minister Murayama survived a no-confidence vote yesterday in parliament.

South Korea said yesterday it would support a US-North Korea accord on restructuring Pyongyang's nuclear program after Clinton assured President Kim Young Sam that Seoul would play a central role in the project. Meanwhile, a campaign for South Korea's first local elections in 35 years moved into full swing yesterday, marred by charges of bribe-taking and other crimes. Elections are set for June 27.

A letter bomb exploded in the hands of a German politician, harming him as he opened mail in the northern city of Luebeck. It was the second such attack in Germany in a week. German police raided some 50 homes of suspected left-wing extremists yesterday but declined to say whether extremists were believed to be linked to the letter-bomb attacks.

Mohamad Farah Aideed dismissed his removal as chairman of his Somali faction as the work of traitors. Aideed's radio station said reports of his removal were unfounded as the vote against him was illegal. Aideed was ousted in a meeting of the United Somali Congress-Somali National Alliance Sunday.

Vietnam rejected conditions set by the US Congress for establishing normal relations between the two countries.

The workers of the world are finding it harder to exercise their rights, with unions threatened by violence and intimidation, a global labor group said. In its annual report, the Brussels-based International Confederation of Free Trade Unions cited almost 100 countries for abuses - a record number. Problems ranged from government and bureaucratic interference to arrests, disappearances, and killings.

The three former Soviet republics of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia, shaking off years of dominance by Moscow, signed accords with the EU that may eventually bring them fully into the EU. The three Baltic countries join a long list of former communist countries lining up for EU membership.


More than 200 Iranian directors and actors petitioned authorities to curb widespread state controls over film production, Iranian newspapers said. Liberal filmmakers often criticize the sometimes-arbitrary control of film production, but the letter was a rare public criticism from mainstream filmmakers.

Margaret Thatcher beat Luciano Pavarotti's British book-signing record with the first volume of her autobiography. This week, she set out to scale new heights with Volume No. 2. Fans lined up for five hours for a signature and a smile from the former British prime minister.

Riders of some of Venice's gondolas will soon be serenaded by a new sound: sputtering engines. Gondola managers, who say the choppy waters caused by increased boat traffic are making rowing difficult, plan to install motors on four "barchette" - larger gondolas used mainly for ferrying people around the city.

The Most Expensive Cities in the World

(Cost-of living rankings of major world cities for people spending US dollars, with New York as a base of 100.)

1. Tokyo, 220

2. Osaka, Japan, 206

3. Zurich, 143

4. Geneva, 141

5. Oslo, 137

6. Copenhagen, 133

6. Vienna, 133

8. Moscow, 132

9. Helsinki, 129

9. Libreville, Gabon, 129

11. Beijing, 127

12. Brazzaville, Congo, 125

12. Hong Kong 125

14. Munich, Germany, 124

14. Seoul, 124

14. Taipei, Taiwan, 124

17. Buenos Aires, 123

17. Luxembourg, 123

17. Paris, 123

20. Berlin, 122

20. Brussels, 122

20. Duesseldorf, Germany, 122

- Corporate Resource Group, Geneva

" We will not be satisfied until the very last hostage comes out."

- UN special representative Akashi on the Bosnian Serb decision to release most of the UN hostages

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