News In Brief


The 105th Congress convened in the wake of President Clinton's inaugural festivities and plunged into the politically charged ethics case of House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The House was expected to approve a committee-recommended reprimand and $300,000 penalty for the Georgia Republican. A Senate vote on confirmation of Madeleine Albright as secretary of state was scheduled for today.

Gingrich might take two weeks to decide whether to use campaign funds to pay an ethics penalty, his lawyer said. But congressional Democrats and some Republicans said using other people's money to pay such a penalty could trigger renewed criticism of the Speaker.

Clinton was barely sworn in before the campaign to succeed him was renewed in Iowa. Magazine publisher Steve Forbes issued a news release to radio stations, offering interviews. Many Iowans are receiving bumper stickers with the message "Lamar 2000" from supporters of former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander. Iowa traditionally holds the first party caucuses of the presidential campaign.

Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan gave an upbeat assessment of the US economy, but warned of inflation risks. In testimony prepared for a Senate committee hearing, he said a period of low wage pressures may be coming to an end. He called the rise in the US stock market "breathtaking."

Virginia lost a Supreme Court challenge to a US law that denies highway-building funds to states failing to adopt approved pollution-control plans for power plants and factories. The court turned down an argument that the Clean Air Act violates states' rights by compelling them to enforce a US regulatory program. Also, the court asked for a Clinton administration opinion on an affirmative-action dispute. It asked whether the administration thinks a New Jersey school board illegally fired a qualified white teacher rather than an equally qualified black. The court is trying to decide whether to grant full review to the case.

Boeing has scrapped plans to build a new, larger version of its 747 jumbo jet in the near future, company officials announced. They said market conditions did not justify the risk and expense - estimated at more than $7 billion. Boeing's European rival, Airbus Industrie, has expressed interest in a super-jumbo plane, but analysts are skeptical about the company's ability to raise sufficient funds to build it.

Lawyers in the O.J. Simpson civil trial were scheduled to begin summing up their cases. Final orations from four lawyers were expected to take at least two days in the wrongful-death suit, in which Simpson stands accused of killing Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman on June 12, 1994.

Black activist the Rev. Al Sharpton officially declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for mayor of New York, evoking the legacy of the late Martin Luther King Jr. Sharpton, often found in the midst of controversial causes and campaigns, accused heavily favored incumbent Republican Rudolph Giuliani of polarizing the city, tolerating police brutality, and cutting funds for education.

Chicago Bulls basketball star Dennis Rodman agreed to pay $200,000 to a cameraman he kicked last week, the Associated Press reported. The Bulls were playing the Minnesota Timberwolves when Rodman stumbled out of bounds and kicked Eugene Amos, after Amos turned his camera on him. Amos was carried off on a stretcher and treated at a hospital. The National Basketball Association suspended Rodman for at least 11 games and fined him $25,000. The suspension without pay reportedly will cost Rodman more than $1 million.


Serbia's ruling Socialists may impose provisional rule over Belgrade and then call for new local elections, informed political sources said. They said the tactic - if used - would be aimed at defusing nine weeks of street protests over the Socialists' refusal to give up control of the city's government, which it legally lost in November's election. But some Socialists conceded the plan was not likely to placate opposition protesters.

Israel's government plans to consider deporting tens of thousands of foreign workers and offering their jobs back to Palestinians, a Jerusalem newspaper reported. An estimated 300,000 Asians, Africans, South Americans, and Eastern Europeans began arriving three years ago to fill jobs previously held by Palestinians now barred from working in Israel because of terrorist attacks. A Palestine Authority official welcomed the proposal.

In a concession to organized labor, South Korean President Kim Young-sam said he would send a tough new anti-union law back to parliament for revision. News agencies reported that Kim also would suspend arrest warrants for the leaders of massive strikes that have hobbled the economy since the law was passed in secret Dec. 26.

In Prague, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel signed a declaration sealing postwar reconciliation between their countries. In the document, Germany expresses regret over the World War II Nazi occupation of what was then Czechoslovakia. The Czech government offers similar regrets over the expulsion of 2.5 million Germans in 1945-46.

Bulgarians were offered an apology by the leader of the ruling Socialist Party. Georgi Parvanov said he was sorry that the Socialists had disappointed the expectations of the public during their two years in power. Political observers said there were indications that the Socialists also might give in to opposition demands for new national elections by May. Bulgaria's worsening economic status has led to massive street protests.

Hundreds of desperate Albanians were back in place outside the offices of pyramid-scheme companies, demanding the return of their life savings. One such company went bankrupt last week and another's assets were frozen by the Tirana government. The government has declared the daily demonstrations illegal, and police arrested scores of protesters Jan. 19.

Public-sector unions in Colombia called for an open-ended nationwide strike, beginning Feb. 11. The move was designed to protest the economic state of emergency imposed by President Samper last week. The unions fear Samper's strategy may lead to job cuts and new taxes on basic foodstuffs. The public-sector unions have 800,000 members in such key industries as telecommunications and oil.

In scathing terms, China rejected complaints by Hong Kong Gov. Chris Patten about its plans to roll back the colony's civil liberties after assuming control July 1. A Beijing government spokes-man said Britain shouldn't have reformed Hong Kong's civil-liberties laws in the first place without China's consent. China intends to reinstate measures that require permits for public demonstrations and weaken safeguards on the privacy of citizens' personal-data files.

Two powerful earthquakes rocked western China a minute apart, destroying more than 3,000 houses and other buildings and driving unknown numbers of people outdoors into bitter mid-morning cold. The tremors, near Kashgar in Xinjiang Province, were blamed for at least 12 deaths and 27 injuries. Both quakes were in the magnitude of 6.4 on the Richter scale. A 6.9 magnitude quake hit the same region last March.


"But how do we fashion the future? Who can say how / except in the minds of those who will call it Now? / The children. The children. . . .

From "Of History and Hope," a poem written by Arkansas poet Miller Williams and read by him at the inaugural.

Taxi driver Manuel Lubian gives new meaning to the concept of going the extra mile. The Mexico City cabbie returned a briefcase containing $53,000 in cash that a passenger had left behind. He tracked down the owner by spending two days searching hotels. Although the owner, a visiting politician from Bolivia, offered a reward, Lubian refused.

Remember the Rubik's Cube fad of the early 1980s? As if solving the puzzle wasn't tough enough, University of Rhode Island math professor Dean Clark has come up with a new version that's harder still. The solution requires taking it apart and putting it back together, leaving out a key piece. Clark calls it "The Qube" and says, "Even after you solve it, it bothers you."

Next time you go to the store to buy a pair of casual blue jeans to scuff around in, think of Don Rathert. The Rose Bud, Ill., merchant has been told by Levi Strauss & Co., that his emporium is no longer good enough to carry its brand of jeans. The company says it wants only "high-image customers." This, although Rathert's store has been averaging $80,000 worth of Levis sales a year.

Ted Turner has another distinction on his lengthy resume. The cable news founder, pro-sports team owner, and yachtsman is now the biggest landowner in the US, Worth Magazine reports. His total holdings: 1.3 million acres in six states.

Top 10 Box Office Films

Best-selling movies and their estimated grosses for the weekend of Jan. 17-20 (in millions of dollars).

1. "Beverly Hills Ninja" $12.6

2. "Metro" $12.5

3. "Evita" $8.6

4. "Jerry Maguire" $8.1

5. "The Relic" $8

5. "Scream" $8

7. "Michael" $7.1

8. "People vs. Larry Flynt" $4.2

9. "Mother" $3.5

9. "Jackie Chan's First Strike" $3.5

- Associated Press

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