News In Brief

The US

The federal debt will likely hit the $4.9 billion legal ceiling in November. When it does, Speaker Gingrich said Sunday he will only allow for two- or three- day extensions until Congress and President Clinton agree on a seven-year plan to erase the deficit. House majority leader Dick Armey said Sunday if an agreement is not reached before the deadline, he would give Clinton the authority to decide which bills to pay and which to defer until a compromise is struck.

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. will acquire Potomac Electric Power Co. in a merger that will create one of the nation's biggest power companies, the companies said yesterday. It is the latest such merger in a cost-cutting and competitive industry. The companies expect to cut their work force by about 10 percent.

Allowing welfare payments to teenage mothers would be acceptable, but only if states cover all the expenses, Rep. Armey said Sunday. Congressional negotiators are forging a welfare-reform compromise this week between the more-conservative House bill and its Senate counterpart. Another issue: whether to increase benefits to moms who have more children while on welfare. (Story, Page 1.)

Colin Powell's ''cultural conservatism'' and focus on values could earn him support from two conservative stalwarts - former Education Secretary William Bennett and Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed. Both said Sunday they wouldn't rule out supporting a Powell White House bid. Bennett said the GOP might even drop its anti-abortion platform plank to accommodate Powell's pro-abortion-rights stance. (Op-Ed, Page 18.)

Sales of pre-owned homes rose 3 percent last month to the highest level in 15 months, the Chicago-based National Association of Realtors said yesterday. Buyers took advantage of low mortgage rates to purchase 4.11 million homes, the group said.

The nation's satellite agency defended reports that it squirreled away some $1 billion and didn't tell Congress. The National Reconnaissance Office said it never spent a cent on an unauthorized project, and that the multi-year life of satellites sometimes leaves it with surpluses, which are plowed back into the nation's satellite infrastructure. CIA director John Deutch has ordered a review of its finances.

A homemade bomb was defused outside a Detroit newspaper distribution center Sunday. Unions for the 2,500 striking workers decried the bomb attempt. Management said 1 million papers were delivered Sunday. The strike has entered its 10th week.

A less conservative rewrite of the Endangered Species Act has surfaced from Eastern Republicans. As the House considers weakening the law, Maryland Rep. Morella's new bill contrasts with the Western GOP leaders' plan. It would preserve the ban on destroying protected species' habitat. The leaders' bill would exempt most private land and move some species off the protected list. (Briefing, Page 4.)

''Angry white males'' aren't the only talk radio listeners, says a survey by ''TALK DAILY.'' In fact 40 percent of listeners are women, while the stereotypical angry Republican male makes up just 22 percent. Also, listeners are likely to be registered voters with college degrees and above-average incomes.

They've mastered many computer languages, but about three-fourths of the freshmen class at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this fall must take writing and composition courses after failing an English competency test. Nationwide, schools are moving to compensate for many freshmen who don't have basic English skills.

Intel Corp. software engineer William Gaede was jailed Saturday on charges that he stole millions of dollars worth of the company's chip-production secrets and gave them to a competitor, Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

Watch what you write in your e-mail messages, says John Jessen, founder of the Seattle-based Electronic Evidence Discovery. Since companies can legally monitor employees' e-mail and such messages can be used in court, keep them polite and keep in mind that they can easily be forwarded to hundreds of people, he advises.

The World

After flying to Sarajevo yesterday, US peace negotiators managed to salvage high-level talks between the Bosnian government, Serbia, and Croatia to take place in New York today. The Bosnian government, emboldened by battlefield gains, had said it would boycott the talks. (Story, Page 1.)

PLO Chairman Arafat tried to sell a peace plan with Israel to skeptical Palestinians and his Cabinet yesterday. While Jordan lent support for the move, hard-line Palestinian groups and some governments in the region criticized it, saying the deal would let Israel continue to dominate Palestinian affairs in the West Bank. Syria, whose own peace talks with Israel are deadlocked, called the deal slanted. (Story, Page 6; Editorial, Page 20.)

China's 220 most powerful Communist officials met without fanfare in Beijing yesterday to design the nation's next five-year plan, to end in the year 2000. China's media was silent about the meeting, illustrating how secretive the ruling party remains despite increasing openness.

About 800 Okinawan protesters demanded the withdrawal of US forces there as diplomats met to discuss the legal status of three US servicemen alleged to have raped a 12-year-old Japanese girl. The three are to be turned over to Japanese police as soon as charges are filed.

An Iraqi Kurdish faction, the Kurdistan Democratic Party, attacked a base of Turkish Kurdish guerrillas in northern Iraq and killed 42 rebels, a Turkish news agency reported Sunday.

Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, Lt. Gen. Hussein Kamel, who defected to Jordan last month, gave the orders to burn Kuwaiti oil fields during the 1991 Gulf war, according to a report yesterday quoting Kuwait's information minister. Sheikh Saud Nasir al-Sabeh called Kamel ''a war criminal'' and accused him of ordering the torture of Kuwaitis.

French Prime Minister Alain Juppe fended off growing criticism of his policies in an interview published yesterday, two days after earning a 37 percent approval rating in an opinion poll - the worst-ever. The poll was conducted just as he unveiled a controversial 1996 budget. Also, a Paris anticorruption panel indicated yesterday that Juppe likely broke the law when he intervened to cut the rent on his son's city-owned apartment. President Chirac also received a lowest-ever rating in the poll.

While France is expected to detonate its second nuclear device at Fangataufa Atoll in the South Pacific, the environmental group Greenpeace is undergoing its own explosion. One person has been dismissed, another reassigned, after French commandos seized two ships, a helicopter, inflatable speedboats, and satellite transmission equipment.

Blasting out rocks as big as cars and belching smoke, Mouth Ruapehu could be New Zealand's biggest volcanic eruption in 50 years, scientists said yesterday. An Australian politician is blaming the eruption and a series of earthquakes around the Pacific on France's and China's nuclear tests. Australian seisomologists say there is no evidence to back up the claim.

Indian authorities remained out of touch for a sixth day yesterday with Al-Faran separatist militants holding four Westerners hostage in Kashmir. It was the longest break in contact in the 11-week ordeal.


More sightseers are gaining access to the working farm. For 10 weeks every summer, Fred and Anne Sepe invite people to ramble around their 150-acre farm in upstate New York. Farmers across the US are doing likewise. For many farmers, the added income means they stay in business.

William Eldridge, an Ohio State sociology professor, has donated $1,000 of his $46,392 salary for each of the past four years to protest other educators' big paychecks.

Arab writers, already under attack by Muslim radicals and censors, have a new challenge. An Egyptian publisher is accused of tampering with the works of several authors, with an eye to sales in conservative Saudi Arabia.

Price of Car Ownership

Add up what it costs to keep your car running and you might be surprised. Operating costs - gas, oil, tires, and maintenance - are 9.9 cents per mile on average. Fixed costs - insurance, depreciation, registration, taxes, and financing - total $13.10 per day on average. In the following cities, fixed and operating costs are the highest:

Annual cost per midsize car

1. Los Angeles $8,735

2. Boston 7,476

3. Philadelphia 7,344

4. Providence, R.I. 7,277

5. Hartford, Conn. 7,195

6. New York 7,162

7. San Francisco 7,152

8. Honolulu 6,832

9. Phoenix, Ariz. 6,772

10. Detroit 6,731

- American Automobile Association, Heathrow, Fla.

'' It may very well be that to deal with this deficit problem and change American government, that you might have a one-term president.''

- Senator Gramm, on politically unpopular deficit reform and its effect on the presidency.

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