News In Brief

The US

Opening statements were set to begin in the Whitewater trial - which independent counsel Kenneth Starr calls ''a very important step'' in the investigation. Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker faces 19 charges, and President Clinton's former business partners James and Susan McDougal face 19 and eight charges respectively. They're accused of arranging almost $3 million in federally backed loans and lying about the money's use.

Senator Dole is appealing to voters for a seven-state Super Tuesday sweep that would put him well past the halfway point in the race for the Republican nomination. Dole is favored to win all seven states. Also, his co-chairman Senator D'Amato says he'll urge Dole to tap Colin Powell as his running mate. And Steve Forbes might drop out if Dole pushes for overhauling the tax system, those close to Forbes suggest. Jack Kemp (above left) has offered to broker a deal between Forbes (right) and Dole - an offer Forbes rejected. Meanwhile, Pat Buchanan has vowed to stick out the race until the August nomination. ''What would be the argument not to continue?'' he says. (Story, Page 1.)

Stock prices pushed higher at the opening of yesterday's trading following Friday's plunge of 171.24 points, the third-biggest point drop ever. Bonds, which had the worst loss in 20 years on Friday, also firmed.

City leaders nationwide are calling on President Clinton and Congress to agree on a balanced-budget plan this year. ''Voters and taxpayers expect and deserve better,'' says Greg Lashutka, mayor of Columbus, Ohio. Speaker Gingrich agrees, saying Friday's Wall Street plunge underscores the need for a balanced budget and lower taxes.

Sales of new homes jumped 4.2 percent in January despite blizzards, frigid cold, and consumer concern over the economy. It was the second straight advance. Sales rose in the Midwest, South, and West while they plummeted in the Northeast, where bad weather caused the steepest decline in nine years.

No talks are scheduled between the 3,000 brake-plant strikers and General Motors. With 11 plants closed, the strike has put 34,575 people out of work and threatens to idle even more GM plants. ''We're going to be watching day-by-day and even hour-by-hour in some cases,'' says a GM spokesman.

Cuban defector Juan Pablo Roque could face murder conspiracy charges in Cuba's downing of two planes if he returns to the US, says an FBI agent. Roque is under investigation in the Feb. 24 shootdowns. Roque admitted he was an FBI informant spying on Cuban exiles. The FBI admits to paying him $6,700, but denies Roque's claim that it knew the planes would be shot down.

Repair crews are pumping propane gas from 14 derailed tanker cars in Weyauwega, Wis., in an attempt to prevent an explosion. Authorities are unsure how long the draining will take, but the National Guard says the delicate cleanup is going well. The derailment forced the town's 1,700 residents to evacuate.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission may close two reactors operated by Northeast Utilities for safety concerns, The Wall Street Journal reports. The utility has 30 days to verify safety practices at Millstone reactor 3 in Waterford, Conn., and at Connecticut Yankee in Haddam Neck, Conn. Northeast has already idled two other Millstone reactors for safety reasons.

Knight-Ridder Inc. is negotiating to sell its 50 percent stake in TKR Cable Co. to its venture partner, Tele-Communications Inc. (TCI). The transaction could be valued at $800 million and would make TCI, the country's largest cable operator, even larger.

The World

China warned the US to stay out of Beijing's dispute with Taiwan after Washington deployed more warships to ply international waters off Taiwan's coast. Beijing officials said, Taiwan is a part of China and not a US protectorate. Tensions in the area could defuse if Taiwan abandons efforts to regain its UN seat, China added. Also, China's live-fire war games shook Taiwan's stock market.

Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres complimented Palestinian President Arafat for outlawing Muslim militant groups such as Hamas and confiscating their weapons. And Palestinian police arrested three of six leaders of Hamas's military wing. Sayed Abu Musameh, a top Hamas political leader, was also detained. And Israel briefly lifted a week-old siege around West Bank towns to allow Palestinians to stock up on supplies. (Stories, Page 6.)

Okinawa Gov. Masahide Ota, testifying against the presence of US bases on his island, said all Japanese people must equally share the burden of Japan's security pact with the US. Concentrating 75 percent of the bases on the island discriminates against Okinawa, he said. Japan's central government has sued Ota for refusing to force landowners to renew leases for the bases.

Yugoslavia and Croatia expected to sign agreements restoring full consular links during talks between their foreign ministers in Zagreb, Croatia. The nations went to war after Croatia declared independence from Serbia-led Yugoslavia in 1991.

Chechen rebels continued to retreat from Grozny, Chechnya's capital, while Russian troops in helicopter gunships pursued the separatists. Some 170 Russian soldiers, 100 civilians, and an undisclosed number of rebels were killed during four days of fighting last week, the military said. Also, Moscow media reported that President Yeltsin is considering replacing Defense Minister Pavel Grachev.

Asian stock markets plunged yesterday in reaction to Friday's sharp drop on the New York exchange. Above, a stock broker rubs his eyes during hectic trading at Hong Kong's Stock Exchange, where the key index fell more than 7 percent. Tokyo's Nikkei average fell 1.78 percent.

Iraq blocked entry to UN arms inspectors at a Baghdad site, UN officials claimed. The UN is inspecting sites suspected of housing materials relating to the development of weapons of mass destruction Also, negotiations resumed in New York on limited oil sales by Baghdad to meet humanitarian needs. (Opinion, Page 19.)

Two former South Korean presidents pleaded not guilty to charges of mutiny stemming from a 1979 coup. Chun Doo Hwan and Roh Tae Woo also face treason charges for a 1980 massacre of pro-democracy students, which killed some 200 people. Chun, Roh, and other accused former military generals face the death sentence if convicted.

David Trimble, leader of Northern Ireland's Ulster Unionist Party, praised the Irish government for denouncing IRA guerrilla actions. He spoke on the eve of a visit to Dublin to confer with Irish Prime Minister John Bruton.

India's Supreme Court summoned eight more politicians to appear on corruption charges related to an $18-million bribery scandal, bringing to 25 the number of politicians facing trial. The scandal has dominated the current session of parliament with an acrimonious debate and forced another adjournment of the lower house of parliament.

Hizbullah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah acknowledged that Iran is financing his group. It is the first public admission of Tehran's support for the Islamic militant group by a senior Hizbullah leader in Lebanon.


Garfield, Beetle Bailey, and thousands of cartoon cronies are being enshrined at the International Museum of Cartoon Art in Boca Raton, Fla. The $15-million project puts under one roof some of the world's best-known cartoon characters and artists, spanning more than 200 years.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II is taking steps to curb the privileges enjoyed by the royal family in a bid to restore the monarchy's battered image, according to the Sunday Times. The queen is concerned that a tide of anti-royal republicanism is spreading across Britain.

A human-powered plane dubbed the Raven will soar into the record books next year if inventor Paul Illian has his way. He hopes the pilot can ''pedal'' the 75-pound craft 100 miles from Boundary Bay, British Columbia, to Seattle. The $300,000 project has united 250 volunteers, 11 schools, and dozens of businesses.

The Public's 1995 Picks

The pre-Oscar People's Choice awards are determined by a Gallup public poll. Tom Hanks was the public's pick for the second year in a row.


Movie: ''Apollo 13''

Comedy: ''Grumpier Old Men''

Drama: ''Apollo 13''

Best Actor: Tom Hanks

Best Actress: Sandra Bullock

Comedy Actor: Jim Carrey

Comedy Actress: Whoopi Goldberg

Drama Actor: Tom Hanks

Drama Actress: Demi Moore


Comedy series: ''Seinfeld,'' NBC

Drama series: ''ER,'' NBC

New Comedy Series: ''Caroline in the City,'' NBC

New Dramatic Series: ''Murder One,'' ABC

Actor: Tim Allen of ABC's ''Home Improvement''

Actress: Candice Bergen of CBS' ''Murphy Brown''


Tribute for Achievement in Film and TV: Michael Douglas

- Associated Press

'' It's a toe in a hot tub.''

- Vice Adm. Jack Shanahan (Ret.), on the importance of the US sending two aircraft carrier groups to monitor China's military exercises off Taiwan. Real intervention, he says, would require much more military force.

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