News In Brief


With the White House and Republicans still at odds over this year's budget, tomorrow President Clinton will flesh out his $1.64 trillion budget plan for 1997. The plan is to include tax cuts for families, a reduction of 31,000 more jobs from the federal work force, $1.5 billion more for the Education Department, and $300 million more for the Environmental Protection Agency. Also, Clinton signed a stopgap bill keeping the government running through Friday. Congress plans to send Clinton a 16-month extension of the government's borrowing authority by March 29.

Clinton says he will veto the liability reform bill, which would make it harder for consumers to sue for damages in defective-product cases, if Congress passes it in its current form. Senator Dole claims Clinton is allied with trial lawyers, who oppose the bill. Congress is set to vote on the bill this week.

CIA officials met with Cuban intelligence officers in New York to share data about Cuba's shoot-down of two civilian planes last month, The Washington Post reports. As a result of this meeting, Havana apparently accepted US claims that the shoot-downs took place in international waters, a senior US official said.

Changes to Georgia's legislative districts approved by the state legislature last year are racially discriminatory, the Justice Department says. The state failed to prove that redistricting plans for its Congress did not discriminate in "purpose or effect" as required by the Voting Rights Act. Georgia's lawmakers have not said how they will respond to the decision.

A federal appeals court reinstated an indictment by Whitewater Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr against Arkansas Governor Tucker and James and Susan McDougal. The ruling upholds Starr's jurisdiction to pursue any offense he uncovers in his investigation. Also, recently released documents say two bankers who handled Clinton's accounts in his 1990 campaign for governor of Arkansas were fined $77,000 each for refusing to honor a subpoena. And a federal judge ordered CNN and NBC to release taped interviews with government witness David Hale.

Congressional negotiators have agreed on a line-item veto bill that would give the president greater authority to kill spending programs and tax breaks. Senator Daschle says Democrats may support the bill. The House and Senate passed different versions of the bill last year, but it has stalled until now. Clinton has urged Congress to expedite its passage. The GOP has said it may attach the bill's passage to legislation to raise the debt ceiling. Critics say the bill is unconstitutional and gives away congressional power.

The Federal Aviation Administration has agreed on a more flexible air-traffic-control system that will allow pilots to set their own routes to avoid storms and take advantage of favorable winds. Controllers will only step in to make sure planes remain a safe distance apart. The "free flight" system is expected to be in place in about a decade.

Five states will settle with Liggett Group, the first tobacco company to agree to pay penalties for a smoking lawsuit. Liggett will repay $10 million for past Medicaid costs and will pay 2.5 percent of pre-tax profits for the next 25 years to cover future smoker-related health costs. Minnesota has refused the settlement, calling its terms inadequate.

Output increased in the nation's factories by the largest amount in eight years without fueling inflation. The Federal Reserve reports that output at US factories, mines, and utilities jumped 1.2 percent in February. Consumer prices only rose 0.2 percent, the Labor Department also reported.

AT&T says it will lay off 18,000 people - not the 30,000 previously estimated. Forty thousand positions will still be eliminated, but more employees than expected have accepted buyouts or will find other jobs at the telecommunications giant.


Fleeing Bosnian Serbs went on an arson spree in the Sarajevo district of Grbavica, the last of five suburbs being handed over to the Muslim-Croat Federation under the terms of the Dayton accord. Grbavica's main market was completely ablaze. Separately, Muslim-Croat tensions soared in Mostar as Muslims blocked a major road in the divided city.

Russian President Yeltsin sought to pacify worried neighbors after the Communist-led parliament declared the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union illegal. The 250 to 98 vote is an election ploy, analysts say. And in a rare interview with reporters at a secret location, Chechen rebel leader Dzhokhar Dudayev said he will not negotiate with Yeltsin and pledged to step up the fight for Chechen independence.

In a major reform of the criminal system, China's parliament passed laws assuming the innocence of defendants until proven guilty and set a 30-day limit on detaining suspects. And in a rare show of dissent, 431 deputies objected to the chief prosecutor's report, which revealed a record number of corruption cases in 1995 involving senior state and Communist Party officials.

Some 2,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip protested the three-week Israeli blockade that has halted exports, and caused severe unemployment and food shortages. Meanwhile, Israel said it will reopen a freight crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel, but will not allow Palestinian workers into the Jewish state.

Peru's highest court upheld a life sentence without parole for Lori Berenson, a US woman convicted of aiding leftist guerrillas in a foiled plot to kidnap congressional representatives. She was arrested Nov. 30, 1995, and convicted of treason by a secret military court. The trial drew protests from the State Department and rights activists.

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe was handed a new term after both his challengers quit the weekend poll. The two challengers, Bishop Abel Muzorewa and Ndabaningi Sithole, said he used state resources to win the elections. Mugabe was a front-runner in the polls, which became a formality and were later marked by low voter turnout.

A minute's silence was observed throughout Britain in remembrance of 16 kindergartners and their teacher, who were killed by a lone gunman at their school in Dunblane, Scotland. Train stations, television networks, and malls participated in the observances.

Juan Carlos Ramirez, who recently rose to the top of the Cali cocaine cartel, surrendered to Colombian authorities in Bogota. He agreed to cooperate with authorities in exchange for leniency. It was the second major blow against the cartel leadership this month. Fugitive cartel chief Jose Santacruz Londono was gunned down by police March 5.

The UN launched a $25 billion, decade-long development plan for Africa. The plan aims to improve education, health care, sanitation, and build effective civil services and judicial systems. The World Bank agreed to raise 85 percent of the funds.

About 100 soldiers blockaded Moldova's defense minister in his office during a tense standoff between Pavel Creanga and President Mircea Snegur, who is trying to oust him. Creanga has refused to step down.

Defying the call for a boycott by pro-democracy activists, Nigerians turned out in large numbers to vote in municipal polls. The elections marked the first major step in a program announced by military ruler Gen. Sani Abacha to return the country to democracy by 1988.


It might provide some comic relief for the Congress."

- GOP Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, on President Clinton's budget blueprint, which the Republican Congress will most likely ignore.

On Sunday, March 24, the comet Hyakutake should light up the night sky. It will be the brightest comet to pass so close to Earth - less than 9.5 million miles away - since 1956. Hyakutake, made up of dust and ice crystals, is about 100 miles across.

The swallows seem to have received the message to show up early this year. Traditionally, they are due tomorrow. But they are returning a little early to the San Juan Capistrano mission in California to help tourism. The birds migrate from Argentina every year in March.

A manuscript in which Albert Einstein lays out his Theory of Relativity failed to attract bids at Sotheby's in New York. The auction house had estimated the handwritten document would bring at least $4 million. It had been bought by a US collector in 1987 for $1.2 million. (See list below.)

Pricey Reading Materials

The following are the most expensive books and manuscripts ever sold at auction.

1. "The Codex Hammer", one of Leonardo's notebooks, purchased by billionaire Bill Gates. ($30.8 million)

2. "The Gospels of Henry the Lion," c. 1173-75. ($10.841 million)

3. "The Gutenberg Bible," 1455, one of the first books ever printed. ($5.4 million)

4. "The Northumberland Bestiary," English manuscript, c. 1250-60. ($5.1 million)

5. Nine autographed Mozart symphonies, c. 1773-74. ($3.9 million)

6. "The Birds of America," by John James Audubon, 1827-38. ($3.6 million)

7. "The Bible in Hebrew," 9th or 10th century manuscript. ($2.9 million)

8. "The Moneypenny Breviary," illuminated manuscript, c. 1490-95. ($2.6 million)

9. "The Hours and Psalter of Elizabeth de Bohun," Countess of Northampton, c. 1340-45. ($2.5 million)

10. "Biblia Pauperum," c. 1460 block book bible. ($2.2 million)

- "The Top 10 of Everything, 1996," by Russell Ash, published by Dorling Kindersley

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