News In Brief

The US

More consumer relief from the Federal Reserve? Private analysts think so. Concerned about signs of a weakening economy, many economists were predicting a quarter-point drop in interest rates as the Fed's Open Market Committee met yesterday.

Steve Forbes is forging ahead in the polls. A New Hampshire poll by the Pew Research Center showed him leading by 29 percent to Senator Dole's 24 percent among 543 Republicans and Independents. But the poll had a margin of error of five percentage points, meaning the results show a statistical dead heat. Also, in an Alaska straw poll, Pat Buchanan captured 33 percent of the estimated 10,000 votes cast; Forbes nearly tied Buchanan with 31 percent; Dole won 17 percent. (Story, Page 4.)

Where do the candidates stand on various issues? The nonpartisan Project Vote Smart just launched an Internet Web page where you can find out. The address: org or call the Voter's Research Hotline: 1-800-622-SMART.

Anti-abortion activists are protesting Clinton's choice of Dr. Henry Foster to head up a new teen pregnancy prevention program. Clinton's nomination of Foster for Surgeon General seven months ago was blocked by the Senate because of disagreements about abortion rights and Republican challenges on his medical ethics and credibility. (Story, Page 3.)

The massive telecommunications reform bill is scheduled for a House vote today or tomorrow. Dole is holding up passage of a Senate version because he is opposed to a provision that would allow TV broadcasters free use of extra channels they'll need for higher-quality digital television. He predicts between $11 billion and $70 billion in revenue if the rights are auctioned.

Clinton was to meet with Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to discuss Russian economic and political reforms. The Prime Minister recently said Russia will stay on a reformist pathway, but ''corrections'' will be necessary to ease hardships during economic change.

Scientists at the annual AIDS conference held in Washington lauded a three-drug combination that they say holds the virus in check. During six months of treatment with the medicines, they say the virus disappeared in 90 percent of patients treated.

It's confirmed. Magic Johnson is rejoining the Los Angeles Lakers. He was expected to be in the lineup for his first game in nearly five years in the National Basketball Association last night. (List at right.)

IBM surpassed Apple in worldwide personal computer sales, gaining an 8 percent market share. Apple's share was 7.8 percent, according to the industry research firm Dataquest. And Compaq retained its top worldwide ranking, with a 12.2 percent share and a 25 percent growth in sales.

The University of California president promised regents he will go ahead with a ban on affirmative action considerations in undergraduate admissions. Richard Atkinson apologized to Gov. Pete Wilson, who heads the regents. He said he was not trying to subvert the regents' move last July to drop race and gender as factors in admission decisions.

Daiwa Bank sold most of its US business to Sumitomo Bank for $3.37 billion, thus meeting a deadline for leaving the US as punishment for hiding bond-trading losses from US authorities.

The latest person to commit suicide in the presence of Dr. Jack Kevorkian was nowhere near death due to her diagnosed illness, said the Oakland County, Mich., medical examiner, who called the death a homicide. But lawyers for Kevorkian said Linda Hensley was incapacitated by the disease she battled for 20 years.

The Clinton administration wants a long-term debt limit extension without conditions from Congress, said White House chief of staff Leon Panetta. And Republican Rep. Connie Morella of Maryland says it may get one.

Two years after the White House travel office staff was fired for financial mismanagement, the office can't balance its books, a congressional audit found. It didn't balance its checkbook for five months in 1995 or record $200,000 in deposits.

The World

Bosnian Muslims ransacked Red Cross and UN offices in Tuzla, demanding an inquiry into the disappearance of thousands of Muslims in Srebrenica. And Bosnia's ruling SDA party expelled outgoing Premier Haris Silajdzic. Silajdzic is expected to form a new political party and run in the Bosnian elections, which must be held by September under the Dayton accord.

France called for a worldwide ban on nuclear tests shortly after it announced a halt to its much-criticized series of tests in the South Pacific. And French officials criticized the US after alleging that Washington is keeping its options open to conduct miniature nuclear tests. The US has observed a testing moratorium since 1993. Meanwhile, China said its program of underground tests will continue.

A Palestinian stabbed an Israeli at an Israeli Army office in the West Bank, security sources said. And Israeli officials assured Ethiopian Jewish leaders that they will re-examine their blood donation policy. Earlier, thousands of black Ethiopian Jews rioted in Jerusalem after learning that Israel's blood banks were routinely discarding their donations for fear they were infected with the HIV virus.

North Korea said it will allow inspection of its nuclear facilities. North Korea agreed to the move because a US-led consortium adopted a definitive plan to supply it with advanced light-water reactors. The deal defused a crisis over suspected North Korean nuclear weapons development.

A Mexican billionaire businessman said he gave $50 million dollars to Raul Salinas de Gortari, brother of former President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, to invest in a capital fund. Carlos Peralta Quintero (above) asked Mexico to refund the money, which he said was part of about $84 million frozen in a Swiss bank account. The account is linked to Raul Salinas, who is jailed on money laundering charges.

Japan's Okinawa prefecture made a formal plea to Tokyo to close the 40 US bases on its island by 2015. After the 1992 withdrawal of US bases from the Philippines, the strategic value of Okinawa's bases rose dramatically. Separately, Japan's vehicle exports fell 15 percent in 1995, to 3.7 million units, the lowest number in 19 years.

South Korean prosecutors rocked the country's businesses by pushing for stiff sentences for nine businessmen accused of bribing former President Roh Tae Woo. A three-year sentence was sought for Lee Kun-hee, chairman of the Samsung group, which accounts for 18 percent of Seoul's GNP. Four-year sentences were sought for the chairmen of the Daewoo and Dhon-Ah groups.

Greek and Turkish warships surrounded the disputed islet of Imia near Greece's eastern island of Kalymnos just off the Turkish coast. Both ships have threatened to defend the islet by force. Greece's Cabinet was meeting yesterday to decide how to proceed.

Britain must drop plans for Irish elections or face Irish-American pressure, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said. British Premier John Major earlier suggested elections as a possible way to restore peace in Northern Ireland. Efforts to start talks among Protestant and Roman Catholic parties have foundered for more than a year. (Editorial, Page 20.)

Colombian President Ernesto Samper is reportedly considering a resignation deal under which he could avoid prosecution on charges that he took millions of dollars from the Cali drug cartel to fund his campaign. But such a deal would require a pardon from Congress, where many lawmakers also accused of accepting drug money from the cartel would likely insist in being included in a blanket amnesty, a leading opposition politician said.


The American Music Awards chose an artist of the year Monday night, and the winner, Garth Brooks (above, with his wife, Sandy), didn't want it. Saying he meant no disrespect, Brooks said he didn't believe in the concept. Named as top male and female artists were: in Pop-Rock, Michael Jackson and Mariah Carey; in Country, Brooks and Reba McEntyre, and in Soul-R&B, Luther Vandross and Mariah Carey.

Ernie and Bert were missing after thieves knocked a hole in a wall and plundered an exhibit of original muppets in Erfurt, Germany. Miss Piggy was damaged during the break-in. The Bert and Ernie muppets are each valued at $126,000.

A fire has gutted the opera house in Venice. The 204-year-old La Fenice was one of Italy's greatest artistic institutions and scene of the premieres of Verdi's ''Rigoletto'' and ''La Traviata.'' The building, closed for renovations in August, was to have reopened in March.

Bringing Back the Magic

Magic Johnson's return to the LA Lakers' lineup has many fans hoping the team will return to its 1980s greatness - when it won 5 world championships.

number of championships won

1. Boston Celtics 16

2. Minnesota/LA Lakers 11

3. Chicago Bulls 3

3. Philadelphia/Golden State Warriors 3

3. Syracuse Nationals/Philadelphia 76ers 3

6. Detroit Pistons 2

6. New York Knicks 2

6. Houston Rockets 2

9. Baltimore Bullets 1

9. Milwaukee Bucks 1

9. Rochester Royals 1

9. St. Louis Hawks 1

9. Seattle Supersonics 1

9. Portland Trail Blazers 1

9. Washington Bullets 1

- ''The Top 10 of Everything, 1996,'' published by Dorling Kindersley

'' He is bequeathing us two nuclear waste bins as a legacy that will remain forever frozen in the belly of our mother earth.''

- Tahitian independence leader Oscar Temaru, accusing France's Jaques Chirac of exploiting the area.

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