News In Brief

The US

Lawmakers on both sides are criticizing President Clinton's 10-year balanced-budget plan. Clinton unveiled the package Tuesday night, proposing to take $1.2 trillion in savings from Medicare, Medicaid, and dozens of other programs. Clinton's cuts would be gentler than those in the GOP plans passed by Congress. His package includes tax cuts for families with children that are smaller than the GOP's. It also protects education. Clinton put forth a modest health-care reform package. (Story, Page 1.)

House debate continued yesterday on a defense-spending bill that beefs up the military more than President Clinton proposed. On Tuesday, the House approved $553 million for parts for two more B-2 stealth bombers. It rejected an effort to take the $553 million out of a $267 billion authorization for US defense programs next year. The White House said more B-2 bombers were "unjustified."

The Senate Agriculture Committee approved a plan to reduce spending on public nutrition programs, including food stamps and school lunches, by $19.1 billion over five years. The plan will be offered as an amendment to a GOP-sponsored welfare-reform bill on the Senate floor. Agriculture Secretary Glickman, meanwhile, said he may recommend making government farm-support payments on fewer crop acres as a way to achieve most of the budget cuts being proposed by Republicans.

The House dealt a blow to the Energy Department's solar energy and hydropower programs, slashing energy spending by 6 percent next year. Most of the savings will come from a $717 million rollback in spending on solar power technology, hydropower, and other research. The space station program, meanwhile, will cost $94 billion and faces formidable challenges in meeting its goals on time and within its budget, congressional auditors said.

The Senate approved a measure to give parents more control over what their children watch on TV. The measure would require manufacturers to include a special computer chip in new TV sets. The chip could recognize programs labeled as violent. The requirement was added to a bill overhauling telecommunications laws. A final vote on the bill was expected yesterday.

The Senate Finance Committee was to meet yesterday to consider the tax status of the American Association of Retired Persons. Senator Simpson is pushing to remove the group's nonprofit status. Senator Dole, meanwhile, assured nursing-home owners that Congress will ease up on regulations.

Republicans said a bill approved by the House Ways and Means Committee Tuesday will plug a loophole that has allowed a handful of wealthy people to avoid taxes by renouncing their citizenship. Congressman Archer's measure would require expatriates with a net worth of $500,000 or more to pay taxes on capital gains and other income from US-based assets for 10 years after they renounce their citizenship.

Business inventories rose 0.8 percent in April, the 13th straight gain, as big-ticket, long-lasting goods continued to pile up in stores and warehouses. The Commerce Department also reported that sales fell 0.4 percent in April after dropping 0.1 percent the previous month.

The "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military is an appropriate and constitutional attempt to preserve military readiness, a federal judge ruled. He threw out the case of a homosexual who is being forced out of the Navy.

The ranks of union leaders backing a slate of opposition candidates for the AFL-CIO's top offices grew to 27, and the challengers claimed enough support to take control of the federation.

The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that people must pay income taxes on back pay and damages they are awarded on claims of workplace age discrimination. The high court also said maritime employees can be "seamen" eligible for more-generous disability benefits even if they don't spend most of their working hours aboard ship. The court ruled that Oklahoma cannot, under current state law, tax gasoline sold by Indian tribes to non-Indians. The high court ruled that someone can be charged with a criminal offense even if that same conduct was previously used to stiffen his sentence for another crime.

The World

The Bosnian Army massed thousands of troops for a possible bid to break the siege of Sarajevo. Britain said an attack could lead to battles across Bosnia, heavy Serb shelling of civilians in Sarajevo, and withdrawal of UN peacekeeping forces. The self-styled Bosnian Serb parliament met in Pale amid anxiety over the troop buildup near Sarajevo. NATO was reportedly close to final approval of a contingency plan to pull UN peacekeepers out of Bosnia. But the US Congress is considering limiting any US involvement because of costs. All but 14 of the remaining UN hostages have been released. (Story, Page 6.)

Israeli troops killed two members of PLO chief Arafat's elite guard unit and a fugitive wanted by Israel. Palestinian sources said the two elite guards were waiting for the fugitive, Darwish Abu Khatla, on the Gaza side of the Egyptian border when he tried to cross into Gaza. Israel halted the demolition of Palestinian houses in East Jerusalem after a clash injured 12 people.

South Pacific nations sharply condemned France's decision to resume nuclear-weapons testing in French Polynesia in September. France said it needs to complete experiments before signing the international ban on nuclear testing in the fall of 1996.

The US will push for an international bankruptcy plan at the Group of Seven summit that begins today in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The plan is designed to prevent the kind of international market shock that followed last year's collapse of the Mexican peso. Other hot topics will include US-Japan auto talks and France's decision to resume nuclear testing. Ukraine is pushing for the G7 to approve international funds to help close the Chernobyl nuclear plant. Security for the meeting is tight.

Dozens of gunmen believed to be Chechen rebels took up to 200 hostages and seized government buildings in the southern Russian town of Budyonnovsk, about 120 miles north of the Chechen border. Chechen rebel leader Dudayev, on the run from Russian troops, told Itar-Tass news agency by phone that he will fight on. The rebels' last major bases have been seized.

John Major's survival as Britain's prime minister was in doubt yesterday as his government battled to control a new round of infighting over Europe and illegal arms sales to Iran. The crisis intensified after a meeting between the prime minister and anti-European Conservative members of Parliament.

Former Mexican President Salinas is being investigated on suspicion that he knew his brother was involved in the murder of top ruling-party politician Francisco Ruiz Massieu.

The lives of up to 1 million Iraqis are at risk because of food shortages, three major UN agencies said. The UN now feeds up to 4 million Iraqis, and Baghdad cut its own food rations in half last October. A joint report by UNICEF, WHO, and WFP also said more children are dying of minor ills because of malnutrition. Iraq suffers a scarcity of supplies because of a UN embargo, but it has refused a UN plan to sell some oil in order to feed its people.

The Beijing Higher People's Court yesterday rejected the appeals of 15 Chinese dissidents sentenced to prison terms ranging up to 20 years. They were arrested in 1992 on charges of belonging to underground groups and writing political leaflets.

Russia sent more than a ton of weapons-grade uranium to the US this month under an accord signed in 1992, a Russian nuclear official said. The shipment indicates Russia and the US are proceeding with basic terms of the agreement, despite disputes.


President Clinton gave Interior Department officials until September to come up with an alternative to the clunky concrete barriers on a closed-off section of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House. The president also said he wants a design for the two-block area built in time for the 1997 presidential inauguration.

Beijing's Forbidden City now has forbidden shoes. Visitors to the former imperial palace are asked to tread softly in slippers in an effort to reduce wear and tear on the 589-year-old site. The Forbidden City attracts more than 20,000 visitors a day.

The discovery of a brown dwarf, a long-sought celestial object too small to be a star but far more massive than a planet, has been claimed by a group of California astronomers. The brown dwarf was found in the Pleiades, a cluster of stars 400 light years away.

The post office delivered 83 percent of New York City's mail on time between March and May. That's up from 62 percent for the same period last year. The post office said New York improved more than any major city.

Unemployment Statistics For the G-7 Countries

Country 1994 1995*

United States 6.1% 5.5%

Japan 2.9 2.9

Germany 9.6 9.1

France 12.6 12.1

Italy 11.3 11.3

Britain 9.3 8.3

Canada 10.4 9.2

*International Monetary Fund's 1995 projection

- Associated Press

" He's seen a fast-moving train leaving town, and he's managed to catch up fast enough to catch the caboose." - House majority leader Dick Armey on President Clinton's balanced-budget proposal

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