News In Brief


The House plans to open debate this week on social issues such as abortion, gays in the military, and service members with the HIV virus. In a procedural vote of 235-149, the House supported a $12.9 billion increase to Clinton's defense budget. The vote set limits on debate so that no amendment can change the spending level in the $267.3 billion Republican defense plan. The House also approved a measure that would allow adoptive families to receive a $5,000 tax credit and remove many obstacles to interracial adoption. The bill would ban "race matching," a policy that allows social workers to reject or put adoptions on hold while they search for other prospective parents matching the child's race. A similar bill is in the Senate.

Closing arguments are scheduled to begin today in the Whitewater trial. The case is expected to move to the jury Wednesday. The defense rested last Thursday after President Clinton, in videotaped testimony, denied allegations that he pressured David Hale to make an illegal loan to Susan McDougal. Special prosecutors presented more than 30 witnesses and 600 documents as exhibits in the case.

Divers called off a search for survivors of the ValuJet DC9 that plunged into Florida's Everglades Saturday with 109 passengers aboard, saying it was apparent no one survived. The search has been hampered by concerns over alligators, snakes, and aviation fuel in the area. Searchers are considering using a pontoon bridge to get federal investigators and heavy equipment to the site to recover pieces of the plane. The plane, bound for Atlanta, reported smoke in the cockpit and attempted to return to the Miami airport before crashing.

Secret arms shipments to Bosnia and Croatia reportedly involved more countries than the Clinton administration has acknowledged. The White House has conceded Iran and Turkey were involved. But unidentified Bosnian government officials claim Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Brunei, Pakistan, Hungary, and Argentina were also involved, The Washington Post reported.

The Clinton administration decided not to punish China for the sale of technology to Pakistan that could be used in a nuclear weapons program. Senior Chinese officials claim they did not know the technology was sold to the Chinese Nuclear Energy Industry Company China also promised not to send nuclear-related exports to unmonitored facilities.

A federal appeals court threw out a $1.3 billion asbestos settlement, saying the claims from as many as 100,000 people were too diverse to be combined in a single case. In dismissing the settlement, the three-judge panel cleared the way for plaintiffs who had joined the settlement to file individual lawsuits. The settlement, the largest ever reached in an asbestos case, involved 20 companies.

Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar declared 19 counties state disaster areas after more rain drenched the state. The storms eased in the Midwest but spread East. In North Carolina, the Raleigh-Durham International Airport partially closed after winds ripped off its roof panels.

Fifty-one percent of Americans approve of the way Clinton is doing his job, according to a Time magazine-CNN poll. Only 46 percent of those polled approve of Dole, down from 52 percent in January. Forty-nine percent said Clinton deserves to be reelected; 44 percent said he does not.

Washington Mayor Marion Barry ended two weeks of "physical, mental, and spiritual rejuvenation" at a St. Louis center. Before leaving abruptly on retreat, Barry denied he had relapsed into drug or alcohol abuse. Working too soon after a hospitalization had prompted him to seek the getaway, he said.

Crews finally put out a wildfire that in five days charred some 7,500 acres in northern New Mexico. The "Hondo" fire destroyed 32 buildings, including 18 homes in La Lama.


Israel retaliated with air strikes on Hizbullah bases after a car bomb attack in south Lebanon wounded seven Israeli soldiers. They were the first Israeli casualties in the occupation zone since an April 27 cease-fire. Hizbullah guerrillas claimed responsibility for the bombing.

Indian politicians met to work out a coalition after elections produced a hung parliament. The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies won 179 seats, Congress Party 136, and the National Front alliance 93. Also, Prime Minister Rao resigned, but he heads a caretaker government until a new one is formed.

Disarmament envoys from 38 countries plan to resume negotiations today in Geneva on a treaty banning underground nuclear tests. The main obstacles to concluding the pact are China's suggestion to leave the door open for "peaceful tests" and India's insistence for a pledge by nuclear powers to eliminate all nuclear weapons within 15 years.

Ghana said it will not reverse its decision to bar some 4,000 Liberian refugees from entering the county. The refugees fled their embattled country and have been on a freighter for a week with no food or toilets, and many are ill, the relief agency Doctors Without Borders said.

After a bout of gunfire in Serb-controlled Bosnia, US troops took into custody seven "mysterious people" and turned them over to Bosnian Serb police. The Bosnian Serbs described them as "Muslim terrorists." Also, NATO withdrew some 10,000 troops. The pared-down mission includes 16,000 Americans, down from 20,000.

Australian gun groups plan to protest a decision by federal and state governments to outlaw automatic and semi-automatic rifles and pump-action shotguns. Opinion polls show that a majority of Australians support such a ban following the massacre of 35 people by a gunman in Tasmania.

Vietnamese boat people resisting deportation from a Hong Kong prison camp razed 26 buildings and set ablaze 56 vehicles. Some 80 of 119 inmates who escaped were recaptured. China insists all 18,000 boat people detained in camps be deported by the time the territory reverts to Chinese rule in 1997. Also, in a record haul of pirated material, Hong Kong officials seized 60,000 compact disks and CD-ROMs of Chinese origin.

Despite the efforts of environmental lobbies, oil consumption will increase, delegates at the World Energy Council said in Dubai. They projected that global crude demand, now at 65 million barrels per day, will increase to 110 million in 2020.

In the heaviest fighting in nearly two months in eastern Sri Lanka, 50 rebels and 14 soldiers were killed, the military said.

President Yoweri Museveni won Uganda's first presidential election in 16 years. The former guerrilla commander, who took power in 1986 after a five-year bush war, won 74.2 percent of the vote. He is credited with Uganda's economic recovery through Western-backed economic reforms.

British diplomats accused of spying in Russia have been investigating a report that radioactive material might have fallen into the hands of the IRA, the Mail on Sunday newspaper said. The report says that the IRA was supplied with arms by the Russian mafia and offered stolen radioactive material.

Algerian President Liamine Zeroual proposed constitutional reforms that would enforce the separation between religion and politics and guarantee economic freedom. Also, three people were killed and 60 wounded in a car bomb explosion in Algiers.


''If she is that poor, then I'm Jackie Onassis." Philippine Congressman Hernani Braganza, upon hearing former first lady Imelda Marcos say she is more than $1 million in the red after lawmakers accused her of stealing up to $5 billion from the country.

The latest Washington joke, as reported in The Wall Street Journal: There is talk of three new government bonds - the Clinton bond has no principle, the Dole bond has no interest, and the Gingrich bond has no maturity.

You'd expect President Clinton, Colin Powell, and Bill Cosby to be commencement speakers. But Kermit the Frog? The muppet has been invited to address the graduation at Long Island University's Southampton College. He'll receive an honorary Doctorate of Amphibious Letters.


Refugee Havens

These countries hosted the largest number of refugees at the end of 1995, according to the US Committee for Refugees.

1. Iran: 2 million from Afghanistan and elsewhere.

2. Zaire: 1.3 million from Rwanda, Angola, Burundi, Sudan, and elsewhere.

3. West Bank-Gaza Strip: 1.3 million Palestinians.

4. Jordan: 1.3 million Palestinians, Iraqis, and others.

5. Pakistan: 868,000 from Afghanistan.

6. Tanzania: 703,000 from Rwanda, Burundi, Zaire, Mozambique, and elsewhere.

7. Guinea: 640,000 from Liberia and Sierra Leone.

8. Russia: 500,000 from Tajikstan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and elsewhere.

9. Sudan: 450,000 from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Chad, and elsewhere.

10. Former Yugoslavia (Serbia-Montenegro): 450,000 from Croatia and Bosnia.

- World Report Survey, published by the US Committee for Refugees/Associated Press

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