News In Brief


President Clinton planned to meet with Southern governors at the White House to unveil steps for reversing a rash of church fires. He aims to increase the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms budget by $12 million and request the Justice Department reallocate about $9.5 million to increase federal efforts against the fires. The House voted unanimously to give federal officials more authority to investigate and prosecute crimes against religious property. Also, investigators found an incendiary device on the lawn of a white church near the site where two black churches were destroyed by fire in Alabama. And an electrical problem caused a fire at a black church in Berlin, Md.

Attorney General Janet Reno asked the FBI to conduct a complete investigation into circumstances surrounding the White House's acquisition of more than 400 sensitive FBI background files. She took the action after Whitewater special prosecutor Kenneth Starr's office said it doesn't have jurisdiction to investigate further details surrounding the receipt of the files. Also, individuals who worked in the Bush, Reagan, Carter, and Ford White Houses were expected to testify in a House investigation of the FBI files scandal.

Two mechanics hired by a ValuJet subcontractor signed work orders falsely indicating the oxygen canisters aboard the plane that crashed in Florida's Everglades had the required safety caps on them before shipment, The Miami Herald said. Also, the Federal Aviation Administration ousted its top safety official and announced moves to tighten inspections of airlines.

The House Appropriations subcommittee approved fiscal 1997 legislation cutting the IRS budget to $6.57 billion, an 11 percent reduction from this year. The budget was cut by 2 percent in 1996, the first reduction in IRS spending since 1936, Rep. Jim Lightfoot (R) of Iowa said. The bill also includes shallower cuts in the budget for returns processing and tax-law enforcement. The cuts mean the IRS will audit fewer taxpayers this year than last. Also, the House Ways and Means Committee supported Clinton by voting to recommend retaining normal ties with China.

Two Blackhawk transport helicopters taking part in training exercises simulating the rescue of injured soldiers crashed at Fort Campbell, Ky. Six soldiers were killed and 28 other people injured. It was the third chopper crash at Fort Campbell this year.

Theodore Kaczynski was indicted in Sacramento, Calif., on 10 counts of transporting, mailing, and using bombs. The charges include four Sacramento-linked attacks, two of them fatal. If convicted of murder, he could face the death penalty, the Justice Department said.

A federal judge approved a record $1.8 million settlement in a housing discrimination case. Mitchell Bros. Inc., one of the largest apartment rental firms in Mobile, Ala., agreed to the settlement but denied wrongdoing. The Justice Department alleged the company and two of its managers violated the federal Fair Housing Act by discouraging blacks from living in nine upscale apartment buildings.

Jack Kevorkian acknowledged attending his 30th assisted suicide since 1990 with the suicide of an ailing Virginia woman in Detroit. It was the doctor's second assisted suicide this week.

In their first meeting since the new Senate majority leader assumed his post, Trent Lott and President Clinton rendezvoused for a 45-minutes at the White House. They failed to narrow differences on major issues such as health care, welfare, and the minimum wage.

In a case that has received national attention, Richard Allen Davis was found guilty in San Jose, Calif., of abducting and murdering 12-year-old Polly Klass. The case prompted efforts to toughen penalties for repeat offenders. And Daren Lee Bolton, found guilty of kidnapping, raping, and murdering a toddler, was executed by injection in Florence, Ariz. Police linked him to the killing through a new computerized fingerprinting system.


Russian President Yeltsin cancelled a trip to a Group of Seven summit in Lyon, France, to concentrate on Russia's electoral race. Also, the Central Electoral commission made clear it favors the midweek July 3 date for the presidential runoff between Yeltsin and Communist Gennady Zyuganov.

Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu took office, urging his coalition government to rise above petty differences and work together for the sake of the country. Earlier, Netanyahu averted an 11th-hour coalition crisis by offering hard-liner Ariel Sharon a Cabinet post as National Infrastructure Minister. Sharon was expected to accept.

Egypt criticized Benjamin Netanyahu's first speech as Israel's prime minister, saying it indicated a hardening of his position. Also, Syria wants Arab leaders meeting in Cairo this weekend to forge a united front against Netanyahu's "aggressive and antipeace" policies, an official said. Arabs are concerned about his Likud Party's plans for a renewed Jewish settlement boom and its rejection of land-for-peace policies. Also, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat asked the international community to ensure Israel upholds its commitments under the Mideast peace agreement.

European Commission President Jacques Santer asked Britain to back an EU plan to phase out the ban on British beef exports. Santer also said Britain must end its policy of noncooperation if it wants the deal to go through. Also, Britain said it would slaughter tens of thousands of additional cattle in an effort toward meeting the commission's demands. EU leaders will vote on the plan this weekend in Florence, Italy.

The US and its allies could push for limited renewed sanctions against Serbia if President Slobodan Milosevic fails to oust Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in the next two weeks, diplomats said. Earlier, the UN lifted an international arms embargo on the former Yugoslavia.

Mexico made an early $4.7 billion payment on a $12.5 billion US loan. It has repaid $6.7 billion of the loan so far, putting it ahead of schedule. President Clinton came under fire for extending the loan last year after the peso collapsed. Senior Republicans said they expected Mexico to default.

Shareholders reportedly plan to sue Japan's Sumitomo Corp. for the $1.8 billion the company lost in unauthorized trades. It would be the largest lawsuit of its kind. Also, Sumitomo scrapped a plan to buy back its own shares. It will use the money to help cover its losses.

Aided by recent rains, firefighters in Mongolia put out all 383 wildfires that blazed throughout the country for more than 3-1/2 months, the UN Development Program said. It will take several more days of rain to ensure that there are no new flare-ups. The fires killed 25 people, injured 60, and caused an estimated $2 million in damages.

UN Special Commission head Rolf Ekeus arrived in Iraq to demand "immediate, unconditional, and unrestricted" access to suspected weapons sites. Baghdad barred UN weapons inspectors from five such sites last week. Iraq's official press called Ekeus a liar out to prolong sanctions.

Burma's military government said it was doing all it could to move toward dialogue with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Meanwhile, at least 35 Burmese are still in prison following last month's crackdown on the opposition, Amnesty International said.

The chief weapons officer of a Japanese destroyer was at fault in the accidental shoot- down of a US warplane during exercises in the Pacific last month, Japan's Navy said.

"If [Kaczynski] cashes the check, he's admitting authorship of the book....

It wouldn't be very good for his defense, if you see what I mean."

- Publisher Kristan Lawson, on a royalty check she sent to Theodore Kaczynski for sales of the Unabomber manifesto.


Scandinavians got perfect marks for honesty in Read-er's Digest's wallet-dropping experiment. Reader's Digest planted 10 wallets in each of 20 European cities, with cash and owner identification inside. Citizens of Oslo and Odense, Denmark, returned all 10 intact. Overall, Europe received a 58 percent score for honesty compared with 67 percent for the US.

Dougie van Heerden is the owner of one of South Africa's wildest night spots: South Africa's second-largest baobab tree. Van Heerden hollowed out the tree, which has a 154-ft. circumference, and installed benches, plumbing, and electric wires. He rents the tree out for private gatherings at a rate of $60 a night. One evening, 56 partygoers squeezed inside.

Chessie the wandering manatee is heading north again on his third annual pilgrimage to Virginia's Chesapeake Bay. Last summer the intrepid manatee traveled north to Rhode Island, making him the only Florida manatee known to have swum to New England and back.

The 1972 Chrysler station wagon John Lennon drove across the US with Yoko Ono fetched $20,700 at a Sotheby's auction. Jim Morrison's handwritten poetry went for $25,300; an apron dress worn by Judy Garland for a test shoot of "The Wizard of Oz" sold for $10,637.


How States Spent Uncle Sam's Purse in 1995

If it were a state, the District of Columbia would score highest with a whopping $38,203 in per capita spending, according to a Census Bureau report on state-by-state spending. The top 10 in total spending are listed below in millions of dollars followed by per capita spending.

1. Calif. $152,538 $4,853

2. N.Y. 93,781 5,162

3. Texas 83,296 4,532

4. Fla. 74,992 5,375

5. Pa. 64,281 5,338

6. Va. 51,305 7,830

7. Ill. 50,934 4,334

8. Ohio 50,543 4,553

9. Mich. 39,372 4,146

10. N.J. 37,587 4,755

- Associated Press

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