News In Brief

The US

The curtain hasn't completely closed on Washington's budget- balancing act. GOP budgeteers plan to meet with Senate moderates of both parties today to work on a compromise. The White House has been doing the same. Also, House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Archer said a capital-gains tax cut should be part of a plan to extend the debt ceiling. (Editorial, Page 20.)

Rep. Pat Schroeder urged Congress to withdraw an invitation to French President Jacques Chirac to address the House today. Chirac came under fire by Congress last week after France detonated a sixth nuclear test in the South Pacific. He is expected to now argue for a ban on all nuclear testing. He also plans to discuss the topic with President Clinton, as well as issues of NATO partnership and the need to continue the flow of US aid.

The Clinton administration is urging Western financiers to approve a $9 billion loan to Moscow to support democratic reform. It would be the second-largest loan ever extended. Only Mexico has received more help.

Whitewater committee democrats complained the hearings have dragged on too long - noting yesterday that they had lasted a day longer than the O.J. Simpson trial. But Republicans indicated they want to delve back into Castle Grande, a failed real estate deal engineered by the Clintons' Whitewater partner. Meanwhile, two partners from Hillary Rodham Clinton's former law firm were to testify, as was a former vice president of Madison Savings and Loan.

Senate majority leader Dole reportedly is willing to compromise on the telecommunications bill. He is willing to drop his demand that broadcasters pay millions for new TV frequencies but is still insisting that Congress not give the channels away, a Dole aide said. Dole has been blocking congressional action because he opposes a plan to give broadcasters free use of new channels they'll need for digital TV.

Liberal Democrat Ron Wyden narrowly won a Senate seat in Oregon's special Senate election to replace Bob Packwood. Two-thirds of the state's residents voted in the nation's first vote-by-mail congressional election. Environmental issues gave Wyden the edge, voters said. His conservative Republican opponent, Gordon Smith, was criticized for pollution caused by his frozen food company. (Story, Page 3.)

The House Agriculture Committee voted to end crop subsidies and most government controls linked to them. The House and Senate may debate the farm bill today. The Senate may also end traditional subsidies.

Ford Motor Company's fourth quarter earnings fell to $660 million - down 22 percent from last year. But General Motors Corp. earned a record $1.9 billion in 1995's fourth quarter. It was GM's most profitable year ever with a $6.9 billion profit. Chrysler earlier announced its best fourth quarter ever.

Nature creates much of the acid rain that falls in New England, not smokestacks, presidential hopeful Steve Forbes said. The multimillionaire publisher also said he would rein in the ''excesses of the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers,'' and consider cuts for environmental regulations. Earlier, he told a New Hampshire Rotary Club that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is the kind of judge he would like to see on the nation's courts. (Story, Page 1.)

The US was wrong to conduct medical experiments on unknowing native Alaskans in the 1950s. But those tests did no physical harm, the Washington-based National Research Council reported Tuesday. The Air Force used with radioactive tracers in tests on 102 adults and children.

Democratic Rep. Charlie Rose, the dean of North Carolina's congressional delegation and a champion of tobacco farmers during 24 years in Congress, announced he will not seek reelection.

The World

Gunmen in Serb-held parts of Sarajevo opened fire on two British vehicles, slightly wounding a peacekeeper. NATO officials met with Serb leaders to discuss the increase in sniper-fire attacks in Serb-held areas. Meanwhile, the last 18 Islamic fighters left Bosnia. They came to aid Bosnian Muslim soldiers. And Hasan Muratovic was named prime minister of Bosnia. He won 95 of 108 votes in parliament. (Story, Page 6; Opinion, Page 19.)

Greece and Turkey backed off from a military showdown over an Aegean Sea islet following a US-brokered resolution. Turkey and Greece expressed relief that the potentially dangerous situation was resolved. The disputed rocky islet is inhabited only by a small goat herd. Both countries have made possession of the Islet a point of national honor.

An explosives-packed truck crashed into Sri Lanka's central bank and exploded. At least 53 people were killed and some 1400 wounded by the suicide attack in downtown Colombo. The explosion set off a string of high-rise fires, and rescue efforts were under way. Sri Lanakn officials blamed Tamil rebels fighting for independence for the attack.

Nigerian police fired tear gas to disperse a rally by students protesting the arrest of a political activist. Gani Fawehinmi, jailed several times for his opposition to Gen. Sani Abacha's military rule, was arrested shortly before he was to address students at the University of Lagos.

Israel appointed former President Yitzhak Navon to lead an investigation into social barriers faced by black Ethiopian Jews. During the past week there was international criticism regarding discrimination against Ethiopian Jews. Concerned about HIV virus-tainted blood, Israeli blood banks had been discarding donations by the Ethiopians.

For the first time, Colombian President Ernesto Samper acknowledged the Cali drug cartel funded his 1994 campaign, but insisted he has no knowledge of how it happened. He said Congress must find out who ''contaminated'' his campaign fund. But Maria Izquierdo, a senator and former Samper aide, told Congress the president was aware of the drug money.

North Korean defectors in Seoul said soldiers in their former country are going hungry because of an acute food shortage. South Korea earlier claimed the North had enough military food reserves. But South Korea now acknowledges the food crisis in the Communist nation is getting worse.

The UN will consider Haiti's request to extend it's peacekeeping mission on the island, a UN official said. In December, the US said 2,200 US troops stationed there would not stay beyond Feb. 29, when the current UN mandate ends.

A military appeals tribunal in Peru has upheld the life sentence of a US citizen convicted of treason for aiding leftist guerrillas. The military's Supreme Council is the last court of appeal for Lori Berenson.

Britain is lobbying the United States to support London's call for elections in Northern Ireland before all-party peace talks. The proposal has angered Irish nationalists. Meanwhile, the killing of Gino Gallagher, a top Irish Liberation Army leader, cast yet another shadow over Northern Ireland's tentative peace.

The refugee camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was expected to close yesterday. The last of 127 Cuban refugees (below) were to leave for Miami. In 1994, 29,000 Cubans and 21,000 Haitians lived in tents scattered across the 40-square-mile camp. Most Haitians were denied political asylum, while 1,200 Cubans were repatriated. The operations cost the United States $150 million and the services of 8,400 military personnel.


Ernie and Bert are learning Russian. Soon to be known as Vlas and Enik, they and other Sesame Street characters like the new Businka (above) will help teach Russian children about freedom and democracy. The Russian Muppets will live in Ulitsa Sezam, a courtyard in Moscow. The show is set to air in the fall.

Former Beatle Paul McCartney has officially opened a $23 million performing-arts institute he helped establish at his old high school in Liverpool, England. Students there will earn degrees in music, drama, dance, design, and management. It's the only school of its kind in Britain.

US marine scientists trolling 1,400 feet below the ocean surface caught a rare giant squid - 26 feet long, weighing nearly a ton, and with 13-foot tentacles - in waters east of New Zealand.

The Candidates' Cravings And Other Passions

What are the Republican candidates really like? Their favorite desserts, exercise routine, and hidden talents may provide a few clues.

Lamar Alexander: chocolate ice cream, walk one hour each morning, piano playing.

Pat Buchanan: Grand Mariner souffle, jog two miles a day, movie reviewer.

Bob Dole: Chocolate ice cream, treadmill, whistling.

Bob Dornan: apple pie, push-ups and crunch sit-ups, reciting Shakespeare.

Steve Forbes: apple pie, NordicTrack three times a week for 20 minutes, ability to run through airports.

Phil Gramm: no response, no response, target shooting.

Richard Lugar: fudge sundae, runs four times a week, played varsity basketball at Oxford.

- Associated Press

'' I had so much fun.''

- Magic Johnson, who in his first game back in the NBA scored 19 points, made 7 of the 14 shots he took, had 10 assists, and grabbed eight rebounds.

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