News In Brief


The nation's jobless rate is a low 5.5 percent, and the economy has created 8.4 million jobs in the last three years. The news sent the stock market plunging Friday: the Dow Jones industrials fell 171 points to 5,470.45, their third-worst point drop ever. Wall Street reacted badly to the news because it is concerned a growing economy will convince the Federal Reserve not to lower interest rates.

Senator Dole was expected to further cement his lead in "Super Tuesday" primaries in six states tomorrow. Steve Forbes, Pat Buchanan, and Alan Keyes say they will continue campaigning until the end of the GOP presidential nominating process. Forbes, who lost New York's primary to Dole, hopes Republicans will adopt his flat-tax plan.

Contract talks for striking GM workers in Ohio were set to resume. The strike has halted production at 10 GM plants, idling about 31,000 workers nationwide. The key issues: safety, job security, and the production of parts by outside contractors. Separately, GM filed one of the biggest industrial spying lawsuits against Volkswagen and former GM executive Jose Ignacio Lopez. GM says Lopez took secret plans when he defected to the German automaker in 1993.

Dr. Jack Kevorkian was acquitted in a case that turned on whether his intent was to relieve suffering or to kill the patients who he helped commit suicide. It was the second time he has been acquitted under a Michigan law that aimed to stop his practices. The jury foreman, Donald Ott, is a Methodist Bishop who had earlier called for the legalization of assisted suicide.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is demanding documents from Northwest Utilities Service Co. amid mounting evidence of operating violations at two, and possibly four, of its nuclear power plants. The company says it is reviewing its procedures.

Margaret Thatcher marked the 50th anniversary of Winston Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech at the site of the original talk - Westminster College in Fulton, Mo. Like her predecessor, the former British leader called for a trans-Atlantic economic alliance and cooperation in defending against "rogue states" that have chemical and nuclear weapons. She also advocated the expansion of the NATO alliance to include Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic.

Brothers to the Rescue is flying again, two weeks after the exile group's planes were shot down by Cuban fighters. But they are doing so under tighter rules. The FAA said it would immediately ground any planes that stray into Cuban airspace. Before the shootdowns, the FAA would only revoke licenses, but pilots could still fly if they appealed.

"The last couple of days have been kind of trying," shuttle pilot Scott Horowitz said when Columbia touched down Saturday. Bad weather scuttled the first landing attempt in Florida. Earlier, a $400-million satellite broke off its tether. But the experiment did prove that electricity can be generated by swinging such probes through Earth's magnetic field. The process could be used to power space stations.

An investigation began into the crash of an Army transport helicopter in Kentucky last week. The five-member Special Forces crew was killed when the MH-47E Chinook went down in a farm field during a snowstorm.

The US Customs Service's year-old Operation Hard Line drug crackdown won praise from Commissioner George Weiss on a visit to Arizona. The Clinton budget proposal seeks an added $65 million for 650 more inspectors and agents along the US border with Mexico, Weiss said.

A stalemate continued over extending funding for the Senate Whitewater committee. Democrats propose giving the panel another five weeks of funding. Republicans want the probe to go at least until the political conventions this summer.

President Clinton and Vice President Gore helped Ygnacio Valley High School in Concord, Calif., wire its classrooms to the Internet as a part of the school's Netday96.


The Islamic militant group Hamas vowed to resume suicide bombings in Israel, while many world leaders expressed support for next Wednesday's Summit of Peacemakers in Cairo. The unprecedented summit seeks to encourage Israel to continue the Mideast peace process; urge Palestinian President Yasser Arafat to diligently pursue and prosecute militant groups in self-rule areas; and discuss measures to combat terrorism. President Clinton and many EU and some Arab leaders plan to attend.

The EU condemned Iranian and Libyan support for suicide bombings in Israel by Hamas. EU foreign ministers who met in Palermo, Italy, agreed on a plan to send a high-level delegation to Tehran and Tripoli to seek assurances that both nations will not support terrorism.

China announced plans to follow its missile tests with live-fire war games off the coast of Taiwan. The exercises will begin tomorrow and continue till March 20. China has also planned a large-scale amphibious exercise from March 21 to 23. Meanwhile, the US moved its aircraft carrier Independence closer to Taiwan and warned China of "grave consequences" if Beijing tries to use force against the Island nation.

A sympathizer of Chechen separatists who hijacked an airliner with a toy pistol surrendered to German authorities. The Turkish man commandeered an Istanbul-bound aircraft from Nicosia, Cyprus, to Munich after refueling in Sofia, Bulgaria. Earlier, the hijacker released all 109 hostages unharmed. Also, fighting in Grozny, Chechnya's capital, subsided after many rebel gunmen pulled out.

NATO troops intervened to douse blazes lit by Bosnian Serbs fleeing the Sarajevo suburb of Ilidza, which is to be handed over to the Muslim-Croat federation tomorrow. The handover of Grbavica, set for March 19, will complete the transfer of five Sarajevo suburbs to the federation under the US-sponsored Dayton peace accord.

Suspected Muslim guerrillas ambushed a passenger train in western Algeria, killing 10 people and wounding 16. The insurgency began in January 1992 when the military-backed government canceled general elections that Muslim fundamentalists were poised to win.

Felipe Calderon was elected president of Mexico's leading opposition party, the National Action Party. Calderon won 159 votes compared with 107 for Ernesto Ruffo, a wider margin than predicted by the polls.

Socialist Jorge Sampaio was sworn in Saturday as Portugal's new president, starting a new political era after a decade of modernization under a center-right coalition. Sampaio pledged to fight for social equality as Portugal continues to modernize.

Opposition leaders in Bangladesh agreed to negotiations on the country's two-year power struggle, but said they would continue their general strike until Prime Minister Khaleda Zia quits. Weekend clashes between government supporters, opponents, and police killed at least six people and injured more than 300.

Christian rebels in Uganda, seeking to install a regime that follows the Bible's Ten Commandments killed 21 civilians, wounded 68, and abducted 292 others during an ambush on an Army-escorted convoy. The rebels have been fighting since 1988, sometimes with heavy weapons. The Lord's Resistence Army rebels also throw rocks, which their leaders told them would explode like bombs.

China's choice for Tibet's 11th Panchen Lama, Gyaltsen Norebu, during his first day of official religious duties at a Beijing monastery. The boy is at the center of a struggle between the exiled Dalai Lama and China.


Because the risk of total nuclear annihilation has been removed,

we in the West have lapsed into an alarming complacency about the risks that remain."

- Margaret Thatcher on Saturday, the 50th anniversary of Winston Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech.

George Burns, who died in Los Angeles Saturday, was one of America's greatest comedic heroes. His 93-year career spanned from vaudeville to video. He was the oldest actor to win an Oscar.

Scientists say a 4-billion-year-old chunk of Mars was apparently chipped off by a meteorite and knocked into Antarctica. It happened in the same meteor blitz that left the moon pockmarked.

A visitor at the reopened Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego takes a close look at a mural of Marilyn Monroe.

All-Time Bestsellers

Establishing precise numbers for the great bestsellers is difficult. This "best guess" list is by Russell Ash, author of "The Top Ten of Everything 1996."

1. The Bible. (6 billion)

2. Quotations from the Works of Mao Zedong. (800 million)

3. American Spelling Book, by Noah Webster. (100 million)

4. The Guinness Book of Records. (76 million+)*

5. The McGuffey Readers. (60 million)

6. A Message to Garcia, by Elbert Hubbard. An 1899 polemic on labor relations often given to employees. (40-50 million)

7. The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care, by Dr. Benjamin Spock. (39.2 million+)

8. World Almanac. (38 million+)*

9. Valley of the Dolls, by Jacqueline Susann. (28.7 million+)

10. In His Steps: "What Would Jesus Do?," by Rev. Charles Monroe Sheldon. An 1896 religious treatise. (28.5 million)

* Aggregate sales of annual publication

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