News In Brief


The House was expected to vote on legislation to repeal many federal housing programs and replace them with block grants to local authorities. The bill would increase use of vouchers to help low-income individuals rent in the private market, and modify a law barring poor people receiving housing aid from paying more than 30 percent of their incomes for rent. The White House opposes the bill, saying the poor need protection from rent increases.

Postal authorities announced they had successfully closed down the largest commercial distributor of child pornography in US history. Postal inspectors took over a child pornography business and ran it as an undercover sting operation. When people ordered porn from the Island Mail catalog, postal employees made the deliveries and arrested the recipients if they accepted them. Some 45 people have been charged. More arrests are expected as the two-year operation winds down.

No "poison pills." President Clinton said he would veto a bill to repeal the gas tax and raise the minimum wage if it included such "unrelated" attachments. He was referring to GOP efforts to attach to the bill a provision allowing management and labor to discuss safety and other work issues outside the collective-bargaining framework. Senator Dole said he won't allow a vote unless the provision is included.

The Democrats raised a record $12.3 million at a gala, $2,000-per-plate dinner attended by 3,000 supporters. Stevie Wonder provided the music and Robin Williams the comedy. Celebrities, such as Carol Channing and Jack Lemmon, and Democratic leaders joined the Clintons and Gores for the event.

Rep. William Clinger planned to seek contempt of Congress charges against aides to Clinton after the White House missed the deadline to surrender subpoenaed documents. The chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee accused the White House of failing to properly detail claims of executive privilege for withholding documents relating to the travel office firings. He requested the documents three years ago.

Clinton will veto a new Republican budget plan, White House press spokesman Mike McCurry said. The plan would erase the deficit by 2002, trim taxes, and pluck savings from Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, and other domestic programs.

Saving money was a key factor in delaying installation of "black boxes" in passenger-carrying military aircraft, according to government memos sent to the National Transportation and Safety Board. The Board had recommended the boxes be installed after two near collisions involving the vice president's plane in 1984. The issue is being revisited after a plane carrying Commerce Secretary Ron Brown crashed.

Clinton's attorney said a sexual harassment lawsuit against the president probably will be delayed further despite a court ruling allowing it to go forward. The White House asked for the delay so the US Supreme Court can consider whether the civil suit would unfairly deny the public of his full-time attention to presidential duties. The lawsuit was brought by a former Arkansas state employee, who says Clinton harassed her in a Little Rock hotel suite in 1991.

House Republicans began a probe into why the Clinton administration allowed Iran to supply arms to Bosnia. Only three Democrats joined 221 Republicans to support creating a select committee for the investigation.

A House panel moved to ease US barriers on "dolphin-deadly" tuna. The Resources Committee passed a bill that would allow import of tuna caught in ways that don't kill more than 5,000 dolphin annually.

Heavy storms were expected in the Midwest, which received eight inches of rain Wednesday, sparking floods and the evacuation of dozens of homes. In Beatrice, Neb., a tornado destroyed at least a dozen homes.

A Michigan couple was convicted for failing to control their son's criminal acts under the Parental Responsibility Act.


The National Party is pulling out of South Africa's government of national unity. F. W. De Klerk, head of the white-led party, announced the move after South Africa adopted a new Constitution. The National Party is concerned it will give the majority African National Congress too much control. Also, five people were killed in KwaZulu-Natal Province when gunmen ambushed a foot patrol. The motive of the attack was not clear.

Hizbullah guerrillas set off a bomb, wounding two pro-Israeli militiamen in south Lebanon. It is believed to be the first attack to inflict casualties in Israel's occupation zone since a cease-fire ended fighting April 27. The terms of the cease-fire don't preclude Hizbullah and Israeli forces from attacking each other, as long as civilians are not targeted.

US citizen and neo-Nazi Gary Lauck went on trial in Hamburg, Germany, on charges of inciting racial hatred and distributing illegal propaganda. He's been wanted in Germany for two decades for supplying German fascists with anti-Semitic literature that praises Hitler. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Turkey's parliament was to vote on whether to launch a second probe against former Prime Minister Tansu Ciller. Either corruption inquiry could lead to Ciller's impeachment, preventing her from regaining power next year, as decided under a recent power-sharing agreement.

Australia's states are to meet today for a special gun-control conference following the nation's worst mass shooting by a lone gunman. Prime Minister Howard said he won't negotiate on his plan to ban all automatic and semi-automatic weapons, but only two states - New South Wales and Tasmania - support the ban. Tasmania, where the tragedy occurred, banned all such weapons earlier this week.

China warned the US it was in for a trade war over copyright piracy. If Washington imposes sanctions on Beijing for copyright violations, "we'll immediately release a tit-for-tat package with even greater value involved," a Chinese Foreign Trade Ministry spokesman said.

Fraud abuses cost France $50 billion annually - an amount just about equal to the government's budget deficit, a new parliamentary report says.

Canada's House of Commons was expected to pass a bill banning discrimination against homosexuals. The Senate is then expected to approve it.

New Zealand expelled Choi Seung Jin, a disgraced former South Korean diplomat, after turning down his bid for political asylum. Wellington thus removed a major irritant in its relations with Seoul on the eve of a visit there by Prime Minister Bolger.

Colombian President Ernesto Samper faces a probe by his own political party to determine whether he violated spending limits during the 1994 campaign. It is the latest setback for Samper, whom Congress is investigating for allegedly accepting $6 million from the Cali drug cartel.

Grigory Yavlinsky, a rival of Russian President Yeltsin, said he is ready to talk about a possible alliance to prevent a Communist victory in June 16 elections. Yavlinsky's candidacy could siphon votes away from Yeltsin, whom some polls show in a dead heat with Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov.

Vietnam says it has discovered relics that prove its claim to the disputed Spratly Islands. An archaeological institute found 15th-century Vietnamese ceramic relics on the islands that prove Vietnam has maintained a constant presence there for six centuries, Nhan Dan newspaper said. Five other countries claim the mostly uninhabited islands.


''This is the first time I've heard of a congressman voting against cats and dogs." -- Massachusetts Rep. Joseph Kennedy on a much-debated House amendment that would allow elderly citizens in public housing to have pets. The amendment finally passed.

Football teammates Joe Jackson and Steve Kelley at Alabama's Troy University discovered they have another bond: They are brothers who were separated as infants.

At the Atlanta Olympics this summer, the 16,500 athletes will barely outnumber 14,000 US military personnel who, at a cost of $50 million, will provide security at the event. The Olympics will have too much of a military look, critics say, as uniformed troops keep soccer fields green and chauffeur athletes.

Julie Andrews rejected a Tony nomination for her role in "Victor/Victoria." She told theatergoers she was declining a best-actress nomination because the musical produced and directed by her husband was not chosen in any other categories.


Chart-topping Charities

Computer pioneer David Packard left 46 million Hewlett Packard shares - worth $7.2 billion, and counting - in his will to a charity started with his late wife. The bequest makes the David and Lucile Packard Foundation the most ample US charity. The foundation has not yet said how it plans to spend the money.

In billions

1. David and Lucile Packard Foundation $7.2

2. The Ford Foundation $6.6

3. W. K. Kellogg Foundation $6.07

4. J. Paul Getty Trust $6.04

5. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation $3.8

6. The Pew Charitable Trusts $3.3

7. Lilly Endowment Inc. $3.1

8. J. D. & C. T. MacArthur Foundation $2.9

9. The Rockefeller Foundation $2.4

10. Andrew W. Mellon Foundation $2.2

-- The London Times

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