News In Brief

The US

Congress will send President Clinton a stopgap spending bill if the two sides don't agree on budget legislation, Speaker Gingrich said. They are trying to avoid a partial government shutdown tonight. Prospects for one bill - extending federal borrowing authority through September 1997 - look good. But they are struggling with a second measure that would spend roughly $160 billion to operate dozens of departments and agencies for the final six months of fiscal 1996.

The Senate approved the line-item veto bill. It gives the president authority to cut individual spending programs. It was expected to pass in the House as well. Senator Byrd, a chief foe of the bill, dropped a threat to filibuster but said the bill is an unconstitutional infringement of congressional spending authority. Federal judges say it weakens the judiciary branch of government because courts have no recourse if the president vetoes their budget. The legislation would go into effect Jan. 1, 1997.

A standoff between federal agents and the "freemen" militant antigovernment group at a farm outside Jordan, Mont., entered its fifth day. The arrest of two freemen leaders Monday came a day after one of them outlined a plan to kidnap local government officials during a weekend meeting at the farm, ABC reported. (Story, Page 1.)

President Clinton will keep his promise to abortion rights groups and veto a bill that would bar so-called "partial birth abortions," the White House said. He opposes the bill passed by Congress because it fails to provide an exemption to protect women's health. There are not enough Senate votes for an override.

The Drug Enforcement Administration planned to announce stiffer regulations on exporting certain chemicals used in the manufacture of cocaine to Colombia. Separately, Manuel Noriega won't get a retrial, even though a Miami judge says he's troubled by reports that Colombia's Cali cartel bribed a key witness $1.25 million. The former Panama president is serving a 40-year sentence for protecting US-bound cocaine flights.

Some 41 governors attending an education summit in Palisades, N.Y., approved a policy statement aimed at rekindling the academic standards movement in the states - not in Washington, D.C. Among their goals: internationally competitive standards and assessments; a nongovernmental clearinghouse to help develop and rate their standards.

Prisoners will find it harder to sue Florida over prison conditions under legislation just passed by the state Senate. The bill makes it easier for judges to dismiss petty lawsuits. Nationwide, inmate lawsuits soared from 2,000 in 1970 to 33,000 in 1990, according to the National Association of Attorneys General.

Apple Computer Inc. will take a huge writeoff for unsold products and job cuts that will result in a $700 million loss for the current quarter, Apple CEO Gilbert Amelio (above) announced. The company turns 20 Monday.

Radar screens at Pittsburgh International Airport went blank for the ninth time in six months. More than 100 flights had to be diverted because of the failure of both primary and secondary radar systems. The Federal Aviation Administration planned an announcement about changes to the Pittsburgh Airport.

Concerned about US-China relations, the White House announced it doesn't plan to send an official delegation to the inauguration of Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui and hopes Lee won't seek a return visit to the US soon. Lee acknowledged a visit wouldn't be a good idea.

Atlantis astronauts prepared to leave American Shannon Lucid aboard the Russian space station Mir and head home. The shuttle will return in August to pick her up.

The number of new legal immigrants to the US declined in 1995 for a fourth consecutive year, according to the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

First-time applications for state jobless benefits rose last week to the highest level since the summer of 1992, due partly to General Motors Corp.'s strike, the Labor Department said.

The World

In the biggest-ever raid on a Palestinian self-rule area, Israeli security forces arrested some 200 suspected Muslim militants in Ramallah, in the West Bank. And yesterday, Israel reinforced its military presence in Hebron. Israeli troops had planned to pull out of the town to make way for Palestinian self-rule. (Related story, Page 6.) Also, an official inquiry concluded that the Israeli security service ignored warnings about plots to assassinate Prime Minister Rabin.

Leaders of 15 EU countries are set to meet today in Turin, Italy. Among the issues to be discussed is streamlining the EU's decisionmaking process, including wider use of majority voting. Also on the agenda: talks on a joint foreign and defense policy and increased power for institutions such as the European Parliament and the European Court of Justice. (Story, Page 6.)

Leases for US military bases in Okinawa were renewed by Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto after the island's governor, Masahide Ota, refused to do so. On Monday, a court ordered Ota to sign the leases. Separately, the Aum Shinri Kyo group, which is accused of putting nerve gas in Tokyo subways, declared bankruptcy. It has assets of $22 million; compensation claims by victims of the attacks total $23 million.

Seven French Trappist monks were kidnapped by suspected Muslim militants from a monastery in the Islamist stronghold of Medea, 45 miles south of the capital, Algiers. One of the monks is a physician, and local newspapers speculated that the abductors needed a doctor to treat guerrillas wounded during weekend clashes with Algerian security forces.

A nuclear test-ban treaty must permit peaceful nuclear blasts, Chinese envoy Sha Zukang told disarmament negotiators in Geneva. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty should also lay the groundwork for the elimination of nuclear weapons, he said. China's position is at odds with the other four declared nuclear-weapon states.

Moscow could accept the integration of former Soviet bloc countries into NATO's political wing, but not the military wing, Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov said. The position is a softening of Russia's staunch opposition to NATO's expansion plans. Separately, Russian troops blockaded a vital supply route to Vedeno and Dargo, two Chechen rebel strongholds.

In a major Cabinet shakeup, South African President Nelson Mandela announced the resignation of his Finance Minister Chris Liebenberg. He also scrapped the Office of Reconstruction and Development, which oversaw post-apartheid development.

A bill calling for all future Bangladeshi elections to be overseen by nonparty caretaker governments was signed into law by President Abdur Rahman. And Prime Minister Khaleda Zia is likely to resign on Sunday, her press secretary said.

South Korean prosecutors reportedly will indict a close personal aide of President Kim Young Sam on corruption charges Monday. Prosecutors claim they have evidence that Chang Hak-ro took $767,000 in bribes from businessmen.

Colombian prosecutors questioned Interior Minister Horatio Serpa about allegations that he helped President Ernesto Samper win his post with drug money and later tried to cover it up. Serpa denies any wrongdoing.

Nigerian security agents arrested village chiefs in Ogoniland and replaced them with government allies, said Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, an opposition group.

Pope John Paul said nuns deserve a bigger voice in church decisions. He said they have a right to participate in the decisionmaking process at all levels of the Roman Catholic Church.


History may regard comet Hyakutake as new, but astronomers say that powerful jets erupting from the icy ball of dust suggest it has made many orbits around the sun. Hubble Space Telescope photos show jets of rapidly expanding gas and dust spewing through holes in a crust on the frozen comet's surface.

Checks are beginning to trickle into the UN to help pay the more than $1 billion US debt. But the money is not from Washington. It is part of private efforts to mobilize Americans to send in their share of the US debt, calculated at $4.40 per citizen. John Whitehead, chairman of the United Nations Association of the USA, started the ball rolling with a check for $44 for himself, his wife, and their eight children.

Boston's Museum of Fine Arts will show the country what it has to offer, including reproductions for sale, tomorrow evening on the QVC home-shopping channel. The 7 to 9 p.m. show will be a TV first. And QVC says it won't be the last, because it plans similar shows with other museums.

Top 10 Movies, Feb. 16-19, (per-screen revenue)

Per-screen revenue gauges movie popularity by community response to a film and word-of-mouth publicity. Movie titles are followed by per-screen revenue, the number of theater locations, and number of weeks in release.

1. "Fargo," $6,827, 412 screens, 3 weeks

2. "The Birdcage," $5,946, 2,236 screens, 3 weeks

3. "Executive Decision," $4,721, 2,289 screens, 2 weeks

4. "Diabolique," $3,029, 1,824 screens, 1 week

5. "Up Close and Personal," $2,546, 1,639 screens, 4 weeks

6. "Girl 6," $2,308, 1,077 screens, 1 week

7. "Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco," $1,971, 2,124 screens, 3 weeks

8. "The Postman," $1,871, 430 screens, 41 weeks

9. "Dead Man Walking," $1,720, 770 screens, 13 weeks

10. "Mr. Holland's Opus," $1,324, 1,491 screens, 8 weeks

- Exhibitor Relations/AP

" I guess you normally get in trouble for coming back one person short. This time I think we'll get a pat on the back."

- Atlantis commander Kevin Chilton, joking in a CBS interview about leaving astronaut Shannon Lucid aboard Mir.

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