News In Brief


President Clinton was to announce a key decision by midnight tonight on whether to waive enforcement of the Helms-Burton law, which penalizes foreign companies doing business with Cuba. Congress passed the bill in March to provide relief to Americans who lost property in Cuba when Fidel Castro seized power. If Clinton doesn't waive enforcement, which he can do for six months at a time, the EU has threatened visa restrictions on Americans and other retaliation against the US.

Damage from hurricane Bertha was tallied at close to $60 million for several southeastern North Carolina counties. Some 5,800 homes were damaged, and more than 1,000 of them were uninhabitable, according to estimates by the American Red Cross. The hurricane also hit farmers hard - one official estimated half the tobacco and 60 to 100 percent of the corn in Onslow county was wiped out.

The Teamsters Union's annual conference opened in Philadelphia. Some 2,000 delegates plan to nominate a leader - either current president Ron Carey or James Hoffa, son of Jimmy Hoffa - for the union's December elections. Delegates will also decide on proposed changes to the union's constitution.

The Justice Department is expected to announce it will force two dozen security firms to randomly record trader conversations on their over-the-counter desks, The Wall Street Journal reported. It would be part of a settlement in a two-year investigation into alleged price-fixing on the Nasdaq stock market. It will also require increased monitoring of over-the-counter trading desks by firm compliance officers. And Merrill Lynch & Company was ordered to pay $2.1 million to a former star commodities broker who claimed the company defamed and blackballed her in the futures business, the Journal also said.

Stocks opened lower with bonds yesterday morning as investors responded to bad earnings news as the quarterly flood of corporate profits reports began. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 39.15 at 5,471.41. Also, business inventories edged down 0.1 percent in May, while sales rose for a fourth straight month.

The Oklahoma City bombing case headed back to court. One key issue involves critical evidence the defense will argue is inadmissable. The evidence includes bombmaking materials seized from Terry Nichols property and clothing Timothy McVeigh was wearing when he was arrested. A second issue centers on a federal requirement that closed-circuit TV coverage of the trial be provided for victims and their families.

Toys "R" Us Inc. said an arbitrator issued a $46 million award against it in a dispute involving a licensing agreement for toy store operations in the Middle East. The company said it plans to challenge the award in court. The dispute involved a 1982 licensing agreement in which Alghanim & Sons was to create and operate various toy stores in several Middle East countries outside Israel.

Talk show host Kathie Lee Gifford planned to join Rep. Chris Smith (R) of New Jersey on Capitol Hill to unveil legislation aimed at combating child and sweatshop labor. Gifford became involved with the issue when her clothing line was charged with using child workers. Some 73 million children from 10 to 14 years are employed worldwide, according to the International Labour Organization.

About 4,500 firefighters fought blazes covering more than 16,000 acres in California, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, and Utah. Among the more challenging blazes was one that straddled California's Los Padres and Angeles National Forests, where rough terrain hampered more than 800 firefighters.

Arkansas Lt. Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) was set to take over the governorship. He replaces Gov. Jim Guy Tucker (D), who stepped down after he was convicted in the Whitewater trial.


EU foreign ministers in Brussels began meeting on possible countermeasures to a US law that seeks to punish foreign companies that do business with Cuba. One of the most controversial aspects of the Helms-Burton law is scheduled to go into effect today. Title III would allow people to sue foreign companies that do business with Cuban companies suspected of trafficking in properties seized by Castro's government. EU President Jacques Santer warned Europe's response to the law must be swift.

The Bosnian Serb police chief in Pale threatened to detain UN police if NATO-led forces make any attempt to arrest Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, UN officials said. Also, electoral officials postponed the start of campaigning until Friday while the West intensifies efforts to force Karadzic from power. Richard Holbrooke of the US, author of the Dayton accord, went to Bosnia to negotiate Karadzic's ouster from public life. He will meet with the presidents of Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia. And NATO grounded Bosnian military aircraft after finding antitank weapons aboard a helicopter that should have been carrying passengers.

Russian President Yeltsin abruptly decided to go on vacation, postponing a meeting with US Vice President Gore and once again raising concerns about his health. Yeltsin's aide said he would meet with Gore today, possibly at a resort near Moscow.

Saudi Arabia's defense minister oppposed plans to move US troops to more secure housing, saying security has already been tightened at the military complex in Dhahran that was bombed last month. Also, FBI director Louis Freeh is in Saudi Arabia to try to get FBI investigators access to all bombing evidence. And Saudi authorities found what they believe is the getaway car.

Ugandan rebels suspected of being Christian fundamentalists slaughtered 91 Sudanese refugees in separate attacks last week, UN relief workers said.

Police discovered a bomb-making factory in London and arrested seven suspected terrorists. The arrests are being called a to a serious blow against Irish nationalist guerrillas. Officials tied the arrests to the Irish Republican Army.

School is out for 50,000 children in Sakai, Japan. Authorities closed all 92 elementary schools until tomorrow after nearly 4,000 children were affected by food poisoning. It is the largest outbreak in a Japanese city in recent years.

The world's 358 billionaires have more assets than the combined incomes of countries housing 45 percent of the world's people, an annual report by the UN Development Program found. About 1.6 billion people are worse off than they were 10 years ago, despite a dramatic surge in economic growth in 15 countries over the last 30 years.

Crowds of devotees stampeded at two Hindu festivals in India. Sixty people were killed and scores injured at festivals celebrating the new moon. In the past decade, some 1,000 people have been killed in stampedes in India.

Investors in Lloyd's of London, the financially troubled insurance market, were to vote on a restructuring plan. Investors who are making money are being asked to loan the company $682 million for seven years. If the restructuring plan doesn't fall into place, Lloyd's will likely be insolvent next month. It isn't clear how British regulators would handle the unprecedented crisis.


"I don't expect high achievements, but I am sure I will break the records of Vietnam."

-- Olympic swimmer Tran Ngoc Tuan of Vietnam, on his expected performance at the 1996 Games in Atlanta.

Swimmers can take a dip in the Merrimack River in Lowell, Mass., for the first time since 1964, when poor water quality made the river unsafe. The US Dept. of Environmental Protection once labeled the river one of the filthiest in New England. But $500,000 later, the river is now reclassified as Class B water, meaning people can jump in any time.

While the world watches the 1996 Olympics, the small town of Atlanta, Texas, will hold its own games. Events include a couch potato dash between refrigerator and sofa; a "Five-Kay" run involving five women named Kay; a triple jump with three people tied together; and a fencing competition where people compete to build a fence.

Linda Puchon garnered the "abominable mention" prize for her design in the "Worst Quilt in the World Contest." Puchon crafted the quilt out of fabric from her daughters' old clothing and says the more she fixed it up, "the worse it got." The judge agreed, calling the quilt "revolting from top to bottom."

About 100 rotund, bearded men will compete in the Hemingway look-alike contest as part of the annual Hemingway Days festival in Key West, Fla. Arm wrestling, fishing, and kayaking accompany festival staples such as storytelling and a short story contest. Revered author Ernest Hemingway lived in Key West from 1928 to 1940


Guide for Name Dropping

Here are 10 new names added to the recently released "International Who's Who, 1995-96," published by Taylor & Francis.

Sandra Bullock, actress

Jim Carrey, actor

Michael Chang, tennis pro

David Copperfield, magician

Louis Farrakhan, Nation of Islam leader

Val Kilmer, actor

Larry Kramer, author

Shaquille O'Neal, basketball pro

O.J. Simpson, former football player and actor

Amy Tan, author

-- Associated Press

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