News In Brief

The US

There is no time limit for death-row inmates to file their first appeal, the Supreme Court ruled. The court unanimously set aside an order allowing the execution of a Georgia prisoner, even though his first federal appeal had not been heard. Also, the court will decide if states can tax natural-gas sales by producers who operate primarily out-of-state, while exempting sales by in-state utilities. And the court rejected an appeal by a bond dealer who says Securities and Exchange Commission rules limiting political contributions infringe free-speech rights.

Eight people rallied in Lewistown, Mont., in support of the freemen group, rather than the hundreds predicted by organizers. The ralliers were outnumbered 4 to 1 by the press. Also, Richard Clark, a freemen leader, refused to enter a plea or even acknowledge his name at his arraignment in Billings, Mont. The judge entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf. Clark and two other leaders are charged with defrauding businesses and public agencies of $1.8 million, threatening the life of a federal judge, and stealing camera equipment.

The White House accused Japan, China, and 40 other nations of erecting trade barriers against US goods and services in an annual report by US Trade Representative Mickey Kantor. The countries listed will be targeted for intense negotiations, and if talks fail, the US could impose sanctions equal to the damage to US industries.

Despite new appeals from Pyongyang, the US does not plan to provide additional food assistance to North Korea, the State Department said.

US District Judge Baer chang-ed his mind and will allow $4 million in drugs and a videotaped confession to be used as evidence. Baer says he reversed his decision as a result of additional testimony, not political pressure. President Clinton threatened to ask for Baer's resignation.

TV news helicopters videotaped two Riverside County deputies beating a Mexican man and woman after a 70-mile chase. Neither victim appeared to offer resistance. The deputies are on paid administrative leave, and the sheriff's department is investigating the incident, a department spokesman said.

Five hundred abortion opponents marched outside the White House in protest of Clinton's plan to veto a bill outlawing so-called partial-birth abortions.

The Philadelphia Inquirer has agreed to settle a 23-year-old libel suit with Philadelphia attorney Richard Sprague for an undisclosed amount. The newspaper lost its appeals and had planned to ask the Supreme Court to review the case April 9.

The Treasury Department is planning to tell its law-enforcement officers how to behave - even when they're off-duty, The Washington Post reports. Proposed guidelines for the 19,500 agents would prohibit "off-duty manifestations of racial and other forms of bias."

More than 1 million cases of child abuse or neglect were documented in the US in 1994, the Department of Health and Human Services reports. But the department says the actual number of mistreated children could be three times that amount.

Federal prosecutors are not unfairly targeting African-Americans for crack cocaine prosecutions, a Los Angeles federal judge ruled. It is one of the first rulings on the issue of race and drug prosecutions.

The leading economic index jumped 1.3 percent in February - the largest increase in 20 years, the Conference Board said. The index, a key economic forecasting gauge, suggests the economy will pick up in coming months. The economy grew only 2 percent last year - the smallest amount since the last recession - and only 0.5 percent the last quarter. Meanwhile, the government is more than $5 trillion in debt for the first time.

An architectural review board unanimously rejected Wal-Mart's proposal to build a store at the site of George Washington's boyhood home in Stafford, Va. Wal-Mart says it will fight the ruling.

The World

International investigators began searching for suspected mass grave sites near Srebrenica in Bosnia-Herzegovina. US troops under NATO command promised them protection in the Bosnian-Serb controlled area. (Story, Page 1.) Also, a Bosnian-Croat general turned himself in to the International War Crimes Tribunal in an effort to prove his innocence. Tihomir Blaskic was indicted last year for allegedly ordering troops in 1992 and 1993 to kill hundreds of Muslims in the Lasva Valley. And Bosnian Serb leader Karadzic pardoned a Bosnian Croat sentenced to death for killing Serbs, sources close to the leadership said.

The Islamic group Hamas ordered new suicide bombings in response to Palestinian President Arafat's and Israel's crackdown on Islamic militants. And Arafat asked the UN to demand Israel reopen the West Bank and Gaza. The closure has devastated the Palestinian economy.

The leaders of Russia and Belarus signed a treaty linking their countries' economies and political systems in a ceremony at Moscow's Kremlin. The union is to be governed by a council made up of the countries' presidents, prime ministers, and parliament leaders, and would eventually share a constitution, budget, and currency. But the agreement stops short of creating a single state. Also, the cease-fire in Chechnya appeared to be holding, despite troop skirmishes with Chechen rebels, Interfax news agency reported.

Taiwan canceled military drills planned for this weekend on islands off China's coast. They were suspended "to avoid any misunderstanding and to ease tensions across the Taiwan Strait," the Defense Ministry said. Taiwan was also responding to US opposition to the drills.

Hong Kong was expected to set free more than 100 Vietnamese boat people after Britain's highest court last week ruled that the detention of some boat people is illegal. Hong Kong also plans to deport hundreds of Vietnamese prison inmates later this month. Beijing has demanded all Vietnamese refugee camps be emptied by June 30, 1997, when the British colony is due to revert to China.

Benin's constitutional court upheld former dictator Mathieu Kerekou's victory in last month's presidential election. It rejected the appeal of incumbent President Nicephore Soglo, who said there was massive voter fraud.

Labor ministers from the Group of Seven nations ended a two-day jobs summit in Lille, France, without reaching a consensus on the best way to get their 22 million unemployed back to work. The G-7 was torn between free-market remedies or a more interventionist approach.

India's first major opinion poll ahead of elections indicated the ruling Congress Party may lose its majority but could remain the biggest party in a hung parliament. Also, Prime Minister Rao refused to allow seven former Cabinet ministers charged in a bribery scandal to run in this month's parliamentary elections.

A mining company was barred from future mining activities in the Philippines after its mine leaked an estimated 2.4 million tons of waste into a river. The leak killed most of the river's fish and made the water undrinkable. Marcopper Mining Company dumped about 2 million dump trucks of mine waste into Marinduque Bay over 20 years.

US experts planned to use explosives to seal the world's largest complex of nuclear test tunnels. The tunnel is the first of 186 at the Semipalatinsk testing grounds in northern Kazakstan to close under the Cooperative Threat Reduction Treaty.


The relentless Wildcats of Kentucky defeated the battling Orangemen of Syracuse, 76-67, to win the NCAA basketball championship. Coach Rick Pitino (above) hugs guard Tony Delk, named the game's most outstanding player.

In an April Fool's Day spoof, Taco Bell ran full-page ads in numerous publications saying it was purchasing the Liberty Bell to help shrink the national debt. It would be renamed the Taco Liberty Bell. By noon the hoax was admitted, but Taco Bell will give $50,000 toward the bell's preservation and maintenance.

Imperial Treasure Trove

In 1941, as Nazi guns boomed outside the gates, Russians raced through the palaces of Leningrad rescuing treasures. Now 616 of the saved artifacts are on display in Jackson, Miss., gracing exact replicas of the imperial rooms. "Palaces of St. Petersburg:Russian Imperial Style," narrated by actor Morgan Freeman, is the largest exhibit of Romanov art ever shown in the US. Here's a sampling:

FIve-inch Faberge Gatchina egg given by Tsar Nicholas II to his mother

Tsar Alexander II's bronze coronation carriage and malachite desk set.

Empress Maria Fyodorovna's huge gold, jewel-encrusted Bible

Catherine the Great's gold saddle, carved roll-top desk, and naval uniform dress.

Amber chess set from the Catherine Palace.

Nicholas II's military uniform and a sword he wore as a child.

"Asia" and "Africa" tapestries belonging to Paul l.

Dueling pistols given by Napoleon to Alexander I.

Peter the Great's silver gilded cups encrusted with garnets.

Gold, hand-tooled thrones of the tsars.

- Associated Press

" We consider such a blockade and closure as tantamount to the declaration of state of war against the Palestinian people."

- Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, in a letter asking the UN to demand that Israel reopen the West Bank and Gaza.

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