News In Brief


There may be life out there after all. Scientists have discovered two planets that, judging by their distance from their suns, could have water on them - and therefore could sustain life.

"We do not believe that the Constitution requires states to have only coeducational schools," says Virginia Military Institute lawyer Theodore Olson, who took the state-supported, all-male school's case to the Supreme Court. But the Clinton administration wants the court to force open VMI's doors to women by applying its strict race-bias standard to this sex-bias case. Also, the court dealt a blow to TV and radio stations, saying the FCC can fine them for airing indecent shows outside prescribed hours.

As top-level budget talks resumed, Speaker Gingrich and Senator Dole said it was President Clinton's turn to propose a plan. And they warned him that any plan must have congressional Democrats' support - an element missing from past plans. They also said they're unwilling to "agree on the numbers" and put off policy debates until after the election.

Astronauts Leroy Chiao and Winston Scott performed a second spacewalk aboard the shuttle Endeavour, testing space construction tools and techniques. In one critical test, Scott remained motionless in the frigid darkness of the shuttle's shadow where it's 100 degrees below zero. NASA urgently needs more spacewalking experience before building the space station. Construction is expected to take five years and will require hundreds of hours of spacewalks.

Former US Rep. Barbara Jordan, who died yesterday, inspired the nation during the Watergate hearings with her persistent faith in the Constitution. Once considered a possible vice presidential candidate, Jordan left politics after three terms in the House. She chose instead to teach at the University of Texas.

A week before seven White House travel-office workers were dismissed, Hillary Rodham Clinton was "ready to fire them all," say notes released by former travel office employee David Watkins, as he testified on Capitol Hill. He ignited controversy several weeks ago by saying Mrs. Clinton told him "we need those people out." Mrs. Clinton, meanwhile, continued her book tour.

Today's federal tax system is a "7 million word mess," said the Kemp tax-reform commission. It recommends a new single-rate tax with generous exemptions for the poor. But rather than endorse one plan, it put out a "Tax Test" - some minimum criteria. They include: allowing a deduction for Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes, and abolishing estate taxes. Senator Dole will likely include a plan in his presidential platform.

Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman planned to give a final speech in court, his lawyer said, before he was sentenced to life imprisonment. He and nine others were convicted of plotting to bomb New York landmarks. He was also convicted of planning to kill Egypt's President Mubarak.

CBS promises "appropriate action" if it confirms that one of its executives suggested that blacks are a key late-night audience because they don't have to get up to go to work. John Pike, head of the network's late-night programming, denies making the remarks attributed to him in the February issue of Details magazine. Details stands by its story.

Four computers containing most of the data on human-rights violations in Croatia were stolen out of a New York United Nations office. Officials called it "a very heavy blow" to war-crimes prosecution efforts.

"The Engineer." "The Big Shot." "The Patient One." "The Director." These are some of the aliases of Mexican drug cartel kingpin Jaun Garcia Abrego, who was indicted in Houston on 20 counts of conspiracy, distributing tons of cocaine in the US, and money-laundering. His arraignment is set for Feb. 6.

Alan Blinder, the Federal Reserve's vice chairman, will leave his post when his term expires at the end of January, an anonymous source said. He reportedly clashed with chairman Greenspan over raising interest rates.


A Turkish ferry carrying about 200 passengers - mostly Russian - was wired with explosives by masked gunmen in the Black Sea. The gunmen threatened to blow up the ferry if Russia failed to halt its offensive against Chechen rebels in the town of Pervomaiskoye. Russian troops say they cannot rescue any more hostages in the town and launched another massive assault on the rebels. The US called the hostage-taking reprehensible.

Bosnia's rival factions will meet tomorrow's deadline of a pullout from front-line positions, NATO said. The factions must withdraw at least 1.25 miles from their front lines, a major condition in the Dayton peace accord. Also, NATO troops took control of key water, gas, and power stations in Sarajevo to prevent them from being destroyed by fleeing Serbs. And the UN endorsed a four-year timetable to return some 2 million Bosnian refugees to Bosnia.

Israel vowed to ensure that Palestinian elections go ahead, despite the killing of two Israeli soldiers in a West Bank drive-by shooting. No one claimed responsibility. Meanwhile, the militant group Hamas said voter turnout of less than 50 percent for Jan. 20 Palestinian elections would mean its call for a boycott was successful. Some 676 candidates are contesting 88 seats to the legislative council.

Iraq signaled it was ready to negotiate with the UN on limited oil sales to buy humanitarian supplies. Last April, the UN said it would allow Iraq to sell up to $2 billion worth of oil over six months to pay for food, medicine, and other goods. Iraq rejected the option, saying the conditions set by the UN violate its sovereignty. Also, the Iraqi dinar rose against the US dollar.

China ordered the expulsion of a Japanese and a US attache accused of illicitly entering a Chinese naval base. The men were detained last Thursday. The State Department said its attache's mission was approved by Chinese authorities. But Japan said the men unintentionally strayed into the restricted military zone.

Sierra Leone's new leader, Brig. Julius Maada Bio, said he is committed to multiparty elections. But Bio, who took over in a coup, also said Feb. 26 elections - scheduled earlier by the ousted Valentine Strasser - were unrealistic. The stage is now set for another indefinite term of military rule, diplomats said. The Commonwealth and the UN expressed concern about the coup.

An $18 million bribery scandal in India could benefit Premier Narasimha Rao. The police filed bribery charges against seven leading politicians, including the head of the leading opposition party, who earlier planned to make corruption a major issue in April parliamentary elections.

Human rights activists, attempting to find ways to end child prostitution, opened a three-day seminar in Bangkok, Thailand. According to a Thai government report there are about 40,000 child prostitutes in Thailand.

Swede Stefan Edberg, in his farewell year, bid adieu to the Australian Open tennis championships when he lost 6-4, 2-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 to French qualifier Jean-Philippe Fleurian. In other second round matches: Monica Seles blasted Katarina Studenikova of Slovakia 6-1, 6-1; Patrick McEnroe upset No. 14 Andrei Medvedev of Ukraine 0-6, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2; and Andre Agassi beat fellow American Vincent Spadea 6-4, 6-2, 6-3.

More than 1,100 guerillas loyal to opium warlord Khun Sa surrendered to the Burmese Army.


My mother and father always told me, 'Don't give in to bullies.' That's what I've tried to do. You just never know when childhood experiences will be relevant in your life."

- Hillary Rodham Clinton, as she began a 10-city book-promotion tour.

New York's Fifth Avenue ranks as the world's most expensive street for the second year in a row in a survey of retail rents. On the avenue from 49th Street to 57th Street, which houses Tiffany & Co. and Trump Tower, annual rents are $500 per square foot, according to the eighth annual survey by the Hirschfeld Group.

Singer Wayne Newtonperformed for the 25,000th time in Las Vegas Tuesday. Newton is known as "Mr. Las Vegas."

A new, state-of-the-art theater, primarily for large-scale musicals, will be created out of two legendary playhouses near Times Square, the Lyric and the Apollo. The 1,839-seat theater is expected to open in December 1997, possibly with a musical version of "Ragtime," the E.L. Doctorow novel.

Must-Miss Comedies

Most titles listed by the Boring Institute as 1995's snoozers were briefly in theaters and then went to video stores at virtually the speed of light. The winning dud will be announced on March 11.

"Jury Duty"

"Man of the House"

"Nine Months"

"Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls"

"To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar"

"Dracula: Dead and Loving It"

"Vampire in Brooklyn"

"National Lampoon's Senior Trip"

"Top Dog"


"Billy Madison"

"The Jerky Boys - the Movie"

"Major Payne"

- The Boring Institute

(Maplewood, N.J.)

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