News In Brief

The US

The Supreme Court upheld the authority of the Endangered Species Act. In a case from Oregon, the 6-to-3 ruling says government regulators may ban destruction of habitat on private property. It's seen as the court's most-important environmental ruling in nearly 20 years. The court ruled that the University of Virginia was wrong in refusing to subsidize a student-run Christian magazine. By a 5-to-4 vote, it said the university misunderstood the constitutionally required separation of church and state. It also struck down Georgia's congressional redistricting plan. In a 5-to-4 ruling, the justices said the Georgia plan violates some voters' equal-protection rights. (Stories, Page 1.)

In an extraordinary display of scientific cooperation between two former rivals, American shuttle Atlantis and Russian space outpost Mir confirmed "capture" with their docking devices just before 9 a.m. Eastern Time yesterday. The crews spent the next two hours opening a passageway between the two spacecraft. They will fly twinned as a single unit for five days, forming the largest man-made satellite ever. (Story, Page 1.)

President Clinton reminded congressional Republicans of his veto power as they prepared to adopt a plan that would dramatically shrink government and eliminate annual deficits by 2002. The GOP spending blueprint was virtually assured of passage yesterday by both the House and Senate. The plan does not require Clinton's signature, but the spending and tax bills that Congress is required to adopt this fall to conform with the budget are subject to veto.

Democrats, stung by growing conservative GOP control in Congress, fought into the morning yesterday with delaying tactics that threatened fragile bipartisan support for the smallest foreign-aid bill in 25 years. Antiabortion forces won one of their biggest congressional victories to date with a 243-187 vote Wednesday to ban aid to organizations involved in abortions anywhere in the world. Early morning votes added conditions on aid for any Haitian government that takes power without a US-approved election. The House also voted to reduce aid to Turkey by $25 million as punishment for alleged human-rights abuses.

The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits unexpectedly fell by 28,000 last week, the biggest decline in nearly a year, the Labor Department reported. Sales of new homes shot up at the fastest rate in nearly 3 1/2 years during May, the Commerce Department said, as home buyers responded to cheaper mortgage rates. A divided panel of bank economists concluded that the Federal Reserve should lower short-term interest rates next week.

Senator Packwood's political career remains in the hands of the Senate Ethics Committee, but he no longer faces the possibility of criminal prosecution over job offers lobbyists made to his ex-wife. The Justice Department announced it closed its investigation of allegations that Packwood solicited the offers to reduce his alimony payments. He still faces charges of sexual misconduct and obstruction of justice.

Clinton ordered immediate improvements in security at federal office buildings following a Justice Department finding that most facilities fail to meet new standards adopted after the Oklahoma City bombing. The new standards come amid frequent bomb threats at federal facilities since the Oklahoma City blast.

After throwing air travel and mail delivery into chaos with a threat to blow up a plane out of Los Angeles, the so-called "Unabomber" said it was "one last prank." The New York Times said it received a letter in which the Unabomber took responsibility for the bomb threat, claiming it was just a ruse. The letter also expressed remorse for some past acts. The FAA said authorities would not let their guard down, and travelers at California's airports would still face delays due to heightened security.

The Information Technology Association of America announced that it is crafting a plan for a voluntary system allowing people to identify and block offensive materials that come into their homes via the Internet.. Association members include IBM, AT&T, and Microsoft.The move toward self-regulation comes weeks after the Senate adopted a plan that would ban materials and communications deemed indecent from being transmitted over the Internet.

The World

US President Clinton hailed a US-Japan auto-trade deal, saying it would pry open Japan's market. In Tokyo, officials celebrated a key, last-minute concession by the US: the dropping of a demand for government-set targets for purchases. Japanese automakers immediately offered "voluntary" plans to boost purchases of foreign auto parts in Japan and the US and to build more vehicles in North America. US trade representative Kantor said the deal "attacks the tangle" of the monopolistic auto-repair and parts-distribution system in Japan. After an initial flurry of excitement, Japanese financial markets gave the pact a thumbs-down. (Story, Page 1.)

Russian President Yeltsin's defense and security ministers offered to resign over their handling of the six-day hostage crisis in southern Russia. Members of parliament have demanded a major Cabinet shakeup and expect to hold a second no-confidence vote tomorrow. Yeltsin said he will announce his decision on the resignation offers in two weeks. A top mediator in Grozny, meanwhile, said peace talks between Chechen and Russian officials on ending the war might move to Moscow and would include Russian Prime Minister Chernomyrdin. (Story, Page 7.)

Dozens of Palestinian troops will take up positions in the West Bank next week to launch the expansion of Palestinian self-rule, Palestinian police and Israeli radio said. The first post reportedly will be Jenin, followed by Nablus, Tulkarum, and Qalquilya. Israeli forces will still be present in those areas until a specific agreement on withdrawal is reached. Negotiators in Cairo said they would not make tomorrow's deadline for a troop-withdrawal agreement but will resume talks next week

A French peacekeeper was killed and two others were slightly wounded when their vehicle hit a mine between Sarajevo airport and the suburb of Butmir. Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Shalikashvili said NATO was trying to figure out how to deal with Bosnian Serb air defenses that shot down a US fighter earlier this month.

Egyptian President Mubarak said yesterday the mastermind in the attempt to assassinate him this week was a Sudanese named Mohamed Seraj and warned that Egypt would carry out "measure after measure" unless Sudan changed its hostile stance.

A posh five-story department store in Seoul collapsed suddenly yesterday, trapping hundreds of evening shoppers. At least 16 people were killed and 700 others were injured. City officials said they believed that shoddy construction caused the collapse.

The Organization of African Unity summit ended with a decision not to form an African peacekeeping force to quell conflicts on the continent. Leaders also appealed for more aid from wealthy nations. They said the UN should be responsible for international peace, not the OAU. The leaders focused their attention on the ethnic fighting in Burundi, where more than 100,000 people have been killed since October 1993.

China refused to disclose the whereabouts and condition of a Chinese-born American human-rights activist, Harry Wu, who was detained 11 days ago. The US Embassy in Beijing also said it has been stonewalled in its attempts to gain access to Wu. Wu was stopped when he tried to enter China from Kazakhstan.

British Prime Minister Major predicted a clear-cut victory in next week's ballot for leadership of the ruling Conservative Party. One of his opponents, John Redwood, challenged him to a debate over Europe. Employment Secretary Portillo indicated he might join the race.

Pakistani opposition leader Sharif said a national coalition government could end the violence in Karachi and avert an army intervention in Pakistani politics.

World economic growth is expected to increase more than 3 percent next year, with Eastern Europe showing gains for the first time since the collapse of communism, a UN report said.


The GOP's new budget-balancing plan contains the biggest tax increase in history - but not for long. The $10 trillion tax hike, noted on page 23 of the plan, was a typo and will be corrected.

After five centuries in the same pond, a rare, giant turtle is moving on. The 100-pound reptile, who experts say lived in a village pond for about 500 years, was caught in south China's Hainan province by a farmer and was sent to a new home at the Hainan provincial museum.

Marketing and superstars add up to big cash. In full-page ads that began running June 26, the Orlando Magic's powerful center Shaquille O'Neal challenged Houston Rockets' center Hakeem Olajuwon to a one-on-one. Hakeem responded, "anywhere, anyway, anytime." The Rockets swept the Magic 4-0 in the NBA playoffs earlier this month. The agent for the two competitive centers says an announcement will be made soon on a meeting. Shaq's endorsement deals already bring him more than $12 million a year. But Hakeem, a native Nigerian and MVP in the finals for the second consecutive year, takes in less than $2 million.

Top 10 Television Shows, June 19-25


1. "Friends," NBC, 14.4, 13.7 million homes

2. "ER," NBC, 13.6, 13.0 million homes

3. "20/20," ABC, 13.5, 12.9 million homes

4. "Seinfeld," NBC, 13.1, 12.5 million homes

5. "60 Minutes," CBS, 12.9, 12.3 million homes

6. "Grace Under Fire," 12.6, 12.0 million homes

7. "PrimeTime Live," ABC, 11.6, 11.1 million homes

8. "ABC Sunday Night Movie: Heartbreak Ridge," ABC, 11.5, 11.0 million homes

9. "Ellen," ABC, 11.3, 10.8 million homes

10 "Home Improvement," ABC, 11.2, 10.7 million homes

(Rating equals percentage of American homes with TVs.)

- A. C. Nielsen Co.

" If we wait to see the whites of the recession's eyes, the Fed will have waited too long."

- A panel of bank economists urging the Fed to lower interest rates

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