News In Brief

The US

Webster Hubbell, a close friend of the Clintons, was the lead witness for Whitewater hearings that began yesterday, which are focusing on the White House response to presidential lawyer Vincent Foster's 1993 death. Foster was working on the Clintons' failed investment deal, the Whitewater Development Co., when he apparently committed suicide. Former Associate Attorney General Hubbell was expected to describe the discomfort his Justice Department colleagues felt when White House aides refused access to Foster's office. Files were removed, and GOP senators want to know why. (Story, Page 3.)

Two congressional committees are expected to take up the Waco, Texas, incident today. They will try to discern whether the 1993 raid on the Branch Davidian compound was just a botched attempt to carry out an arrest warrant or if the government ignored the Constitution and brought excessive force to bear. Most federal officials admit that mistakes were made but say the errors weren't egregious. Also at issue is the National Rifle Association's role in the hearings. After an NRA staffer allegedly claimed to represent the committee conducting the hearings, Democrats accused the NRA of ''hijacking'' the hearings.

The Treasury Department will investigate a ''whites only'' law-enforcement gathering that allegedly featured, among other things, racist T-shirts, including one with Martin Luther King Jr.'s face behind a target. Federal agents - including some from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms - allegedly attended the annual ''Good Old Boys Round Up'' in Tennessee.

The US trade deficit hit an all-time high of $11.43 billion in May as Americans' appetite for imports continued to soar, the Commerce Department reported yesterday. The number was pushed upward by the highest crude-oil imports in four years.

Where to put the regulatory burden - on business or government - is the topic of a fierce, week long debate in Congress. The GOP failed to cut off debate Monday on a bill sponsored by Senator Dole that would lessen the burden on business. Democrats claim it would strain federal agencies and jeopardize health and safety rules. The Senate was expected to consider a rival bill by Senator Glenn yesterday that would not require agencies to abide by strict cost-benefit analyses, as the Dole bill would.

The House aimed its budget-cutting ax at the White House yesterday. It began considering a $23.2-billion measure to finance the Treasury, Postal Service, and some smaller agencies, including the White House. Paring the needed $323 million from the bill could require cuts such as eliminating the president's Council of Economic Advisers. Also, the House rebuffed on Monday a conservative attempt to further cut the National Endowment for the Arts. They left intact a measure to slice the endowment's coffers by 40 percent next year.

Clinton wants an additional $474 million for antiterrorism programs and for recovery after the Oklahoma City bombing. The amount is in addition to $7.1 billion now allotted for disaster and other relief. Separately, Timothy McVeigh's lawyer will seek to move the Oklahoma bombing suspect's trial, saying a fair trial is impossible in Oklahoma City.

A a turning point for US-Chinese relations could occur in Brunei on August 1 when Secretary of State Christopher and Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen meet during an Asian regional conference. The US is optimistic about the talk, but the Chinese do not guarantee improvements in the relationship.

The US and Japan will try to head off another trade impasse, this time over access to airplane routes in Asia and the US, when the nations' trade ministers meet tomorrow in Los Angeles.

Medical savings accounts and managed-care plans are part of a House GOP plan to revamp Medicare. A document outlining the plan was obtained by the Associated Press. It was prepared by the Republican staff of the House Ways and Means Committee.

The World

Infuriated by the UN's failure to prevent the capture of Srebrenica, Bosnian Foreign Minister Sacirbey said Monday his country wants to oust all UN soldiers. The UN mandate will not be extended beyond its November expiration date, he added. Bosnian Serbs launched a fierce artillery and mortar attack on the ''safe area'' enclave of Zepa yesterday. The Serbs snubbed Bosnian President Izetbegovic's proposal for talks on evacuating elderly and wounded civilians. Serb forces broke through the enclave and were within a mile of the town. British Foreign Secretary Rifkind was expected to fly to Washington yesterday for talks with US Secretary of State Christopher on the Western governments' impasse on handling the crisis. (Story, Page 1.)

Spain's Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez said yesterday he could maintain political stability despite a decision by the Catalan nationalist party to withdraw parliamentary support. Gonzalez's Socialist government has been the center of increasingly damaging scandals. t failed to win a parliamentary majority in June 1993 elections. A lack of Catalan support could cause Gonzalez to call early elections after Spain's six-month presidency in the EU ends December 31.

The Kremlin denied yesterday that the only photo issued of Russian President Yeltsin since he was admitted to a hospital was taken more than three months ago. The US television channel NBC said Monday the photo resembled one taken by Tass of the president while he was vacationing.

South Korea's opposition leader Kim Dae-jung returned to politics yesterday in a move that may split the opposition Democratic Party. Kim retired from politics in December 1992 after failing in his third presidential bid. Meanwhile, talks on South Korean delivery of rice aid to North Korea appear to be at an impasse. South Korea reportedly wants to use the talks to broaden economic ties, open diplomatic channels, and ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Environmentalists urged British shoppers to boycott Canadian salmon in protest over seal culling. The International Fund for Animal Welfare said the future of the seals was being put at risk by the annual hunt, which Canadian officials say is needed to preserve fish stocks. Meanwhile, Canada's ambassador to the US and Alaska's governor promised cooperation to conserve disputed southeast Alaska chinook salmon runs.

Philippine President Ramos said he expects ties with Singapore to return to normal now that US pathologists have ruled that a Filipina maid was not beaten to death in Singapore. Another maid, Flor Contemplacion, was hanged last March for strangling the maid Delia Maga and her Singaporean ward. Many Filipinos believed Contemplacion was framed. The forensic team upheld the Singapore findings.

In Italy, more than 150 people were arrested yesterday in the biggest blow to the crime syndicate based in Calabria. Meanwhile, a judge in Rome ordered former Interior Minister Antonio Gava to stand trial on charges of corruption and Mafia association.

New Zealand's leaders agreed that the government should take legal action to try to stop French nuclear testing in the South Pacific. In Tahiti, Greenpeace said three antinuclear activists who infiltrated the French test site last week are still on the Atoll.

China's Yangtze River began receding after weeks of flooding that killed 1,200 people and ruined 2.7 million acres of farmland. Elsewhere, a dam burst in central China killing 34 people. But on northern China's Yellow River, drought has dried up 386 miles of riverbed. An earthquake on the Burma border affected 600,000 people, killing 11.


For Discovery astronaut Nancy Currie, the world's smallest space traveler, there's a bonus to being in orbit: She gets to grow. The five-foot, 95-pounder estimates that in weightlessness she's grown one or two inches since arriving in orbit last week. Of course, when she returns to earth Friday, she'll go back to being five feet tall.

A college fund for a high school graduate in Mount Vernon, Va., is helping students in need. Sarah Pollack was promised a new car by her parents if she graduated with good grades. She got straight A's. She decided, however, to put the $15,000 set aside for the car into a fund for needy students instead, and a student from El Salvador is the first to benefit.

Best-Selling Books, Hardcover Fiction

1. ''Beach Music,'' Pat Conroy (Doubleday)

2. ''The Bridges of Madison County,'' Robert James Waller (Warner)

3. ''Rose Madder,'' Stephen King (Viking)

4. ''The Rainmaker,'' John Grisham (Doubleday)

5. ''The Celestine Prophesy,'' James Redfield (Warner)

6. ''The Apocalypse Watch,'' Robert Ludlum (Bantam)

7. ''Let Me Call You Sweetheart,'' Mary Higgins Clark (Simon & Schuster)

8. ''Ladder of Years,'' Anne Tyler (Knopf)

9. ''The Witness,'' Sandra Brown (Warner)

10. ''Politically Correct Bedtime Stories,'' James Finn Garner (Macmillan)

- Publishers Weekly

'' Mistakes like these will never be made again. [But] Koresh was a criminal.''

- John Magaw, head of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, on errors his agency made at the Waco incident

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