News In Brief

The US

The House unanimously approved a Taxpayer Bill of Rights that offers individuals greater leverage with the IRS. Also, Senator Dole pulled a bill cracking down on illegal immigration from the Senate floor. Dole said he withdrew the bill to foil Democratic efforts to attach a minimum-wage pay raise. And Senate Republicans introduced a bill to abolish the Energy Department but said this Congress probably won't pass it.

Senate Republicans announced a plan to move the Whitewater probe to the Senate Banking Committee headed by Sen. Alfonse D'Amato. The action raises the prospect of months of new hearings that could embarrass Clinton during the election campaign. Democrats had sought assurances that any extension of the inquiry would end by June 10.

Federal agents arrested a member of the freemen antigovernment militants in Topeka, Kan., after deputies found what they called a bomb-triggering device, ammunition, and a blasting cap in his car. And Michigan militia leader Norman Olson (above) said he would try to meet with the barricaded Montana group after being turned away by federal agents earlier.

The Supreme Court began hearing arguments on whether it is constitutional to confiscate drug traffickers' property. The court was not expected to render a decision until June. (Story, Page 3.)

Citing the need for confidentiality, the White House refused to give Congress an internal report on Clinton's 1994 decision to do nothing while Iran secretly shipped arms to Bosnia Muslims. Instead, key lawmakers were given a briefing on the report.

Top Navy and Marine Corps officials announced they are revamping pilot training and improving equipment on fighter planes after a spate of crashes involving the Navy F-14 and Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier. But budgets for making improvements on those aircraft are limited, they said. Also, government investigators found no evidence that a major structural failure caused the military plane crash that killed Commerce Secretary Brown and 34 others. They didn't rule out mechanical problems in the investigation expected to be completed by the end of May.

Housing starts slipped 3.9 percent in March, the steepest drop in a year, as mortgage rates continued to climb. Activity was mixed regionally, rising in the Northeast and Midwest and falling in the South and West.

Bell Atlantic Corp. and Nynex Corp. revived talks that could result in a merger creating a communications company second in size only to AT&T Corp., The Wall Street Journal reported. And AT&T earned $1.4 billion in the first quarter, a 14 percent increase from a year ago when it announced a major restructuring.

Ford Motor Company said its first-quarter earnings of $653 million are down 58 percent. It made more than $1.5 billion in the same period last year. Also, USA Today reported that as many as 23 million Ford vehicles made from 1984 to 1993 may catch fire without warning because of a potentially faulty ignition switch. Ford said there was little chance of that happening.

Charter schools received a boost from the National Education Association, which said it will spend more than $1 million to start five of the schools, which are not restricted by traditional public school system rules. They would be in Phoenix; San Diego; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Atlanta; and Oahu, Hawaii.

Two marines, Cpl. John Mayfield and Cpl. Joseph Vlakovsky, who refused to give blood samples for a DNA registry, were found guilty of disobeying a lawful order. A military judge sentenced them to a seven-day restriction and gave them a letter of reprimand. They could have received six months in jail and a bad-conduct discharge.

A "Turning Point" expose of the tobacco industry that ABC News spiked in 1994 will be excerpted in the May/June edition of Mother Jones. The magazine is publishing a 40-page spread called "Tobacco Strikes Back."

The World

President Clinton and Japanese Prime Minister Hashimoto signed an Asia-Pacific security pledge. Under the pledge, the US will maintain its current force of 100,000 military personnel in the region. Japan is to provide $25 billion over five years to defray costs, and for the first time promised to consider taking a more active role outside its borders. Also, thousands demonstrated in Tokyo, protesting US military presence in Okinawa. The US has promised to return 20 percent of its land there. (Story, Page 1.)

Israel and Hizbullah guerrillas continued to bomb each other in the seventh day of attacks, as the Arab League was to meet on the conflict. The League is expected to condemn Israeli attacks and back a UN Security Council resolution calling for its withdrawal from Lebanon. Also, Clinton says the US will make every effort to broker a "workable agreement" between Israel and Lebanon. Israeli Prime Minister Peres says any such agreement needs to be in writing - unlike the oral understanding that halted the last attacks in 1993. Separately, peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine, interrupted by suicide bombings two months ago, were to resume today.

Chechen rebels attacked a Russian convoy near Shatoi, Chechnya,.killing 26 servicemen and wounding 51, Interfax news agency said. Also, President Yeltsin said he would never negotiate directly with Chechen separatist leader Dudayev. And the Russian parliament approved the creation of a human rights commissioner post after a year of debates. Approval is still needed by the upper house and Yeltsin.

Liberian troops launched an assault on a rebel-held military barracks in Monrovia, killing at least five people. Rebel leader Roosevelt Johnson was said to be considering a Nigerian offer for asylum. Meanwhile, the US air-lifted 49 people out of the country, and more evacuations were expected. And a boatload of about 700 evacuees arrived in Freetown, Sierra Leone. So far, more than 2,000 people have been rescued.

About $43 million in US aid to Haiti is in limbo. The US State Department says Haiti hasn't done enough to probe 20 political killings last year. Haiti can't receive the funding unless Clinton says it has complied with the investigation. Also, two of Haiti's former military leaders were arrested in the Dominican Republic and face deportation. Honduras is likely to grant them asylum.

North Korea has given no official response to proposed four-way peace talks between the US, China, and South Korea. Russia said it should have a role in negotiations. Separately, South Korean President Kim Young Sam agreed to a first-ever meeting with opposition leaders.

Burundi's two warring parties have agreed to attend a peace conference in Tanzania this Monday. More than 300 people have died in ethnic conflicts between Tutsis and Hutus in the last two weeks, the UN said.

Some 29 European and Latin American countries agreed on an accord to fight poverty and drug trafficking after a three-day summit in Bolivia. Latin America and Europe agreed to treat drug enforcement as a shared responsibility and provide measures against drug-money laundering and the traffic of chemicals used in drug manufacture.

A Libyan jet violated UN sanctions by carrying 115 Islamic pilgrims to Saudi Arabia. Libyan aircraft are prohibited from crossing international borders. Also, an EU delegation will visit Libya next week to press for more action against terrorism.

Malaysia was to begin forcibly repatriating about 1,200 Vietnamese boat people under a UN program to resettle them in their homeland.


TV commercials, which sometimes are more entertaining than the shows they sponsor, are about to gain some recognition. An Emmy for "Outstanding Commercial of the Year" will be presented starting in 1997.


Vermont sugarmakers are reporting a sweet season. There's more maple sap this year and it's sweeter than usual, so less sap makes more syrup. The state's 2,200 sugarmakers may harvest 500,000 gallons. Average yield is 385,000 gallons.


With 70 victories this season, the Chicago Bulls became the winningest team to play in the National Basketball Association. The Bulls beat the Milwaukee Bucks 86-80 to top the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers' record of 69 victories.

Make 'Em Laugh

"What's the funniest movie you've ever seen?' That's the question we asked the Boston staff of The Christian Science Monitor. Here are their picks.

1. "Young Frankenstein"

2. "When Harry Met Sally"

2. "A Fish Called Wanda"

4. "Tootsie"

4. "Strictly Ballroom"

6. "Pink Panther Strikes Again"

7. "A Christmas Story"

7. "Clueless"

7. "Defending Your Life"

7. "The Gods Must Be Crazy"

Some also-rans: "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," "Some Like It Hot, "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles," "The Princess Bride," "The Awful Truth," "Trading Places," "The More the Merrier," "All of Me," "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," "Bird Cage," "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," "Duck Soup," "This Is Spinal Tap," and "The Jerk."

" I done some rocking and some rolling and rode the tub out into the woods. I landed in the trees and crawled out through the briars. I prayed, 'Help me, Lord, help me.' "

- Betty Pearce on riding her bathtub to safety when a tornado ripped through Pilot, N.C., flinging her into the woods.

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