News In Brief

The US

Although admitting "mistakes were made," President Clinton defended Democratic Party fund-raising and insisted his policies were never for sale. At the first news conference of his second term, Clinton said donors were promised only a respectful hearing.

Clinton expressed disappointment at China's progress on human rights and said he did not see how Hong Kong could realize its potential to help China modernize if its civil liberties were crushed. The British colony returns to Chinese control July 1. China was expected to receive additional criticism today, when the State Department releases its annual human rights report.

The Senate confirmed Andrew Cuomo as the new secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development on a 99-to-0 vote. Cuomo is the son of former New York Gov. The Senate Commerce committee voted 15-1 to recommend the nomination of Chicago lawyer William M. Daley to be secretary of commerce. And the committee held a hearing on the nomination of Rodney Slater to be transportation secretary. Also, Charlene Barshefsky testified before the Senate Finance Committee on her nomination as US trade representative.

FBI agents confiscated computers and searched homes and businesses in eight cities in a crackdown on computer software pirates who have cost game and program makers millions of dollars. The FBI said it was seizing computer hardware, documents and other records in Atlanta, Miami, Oklahoma City, Pittsburgh; Columbus, Ohio; Des Moines, Iowa; and San Leandro and Cedar Ridge, Calif.

Richard Jewell reached a settlement with CNN over the network's coverage of the Centennial Park bombing in Atlanta. Jewell, a security guard at the park, has been cleared as a suspect in the July 27 attack. The settlement came on the same day Jewell sued The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Piedmont College, where he once worked as a guard. He accused them of libel in reports linking him to the bombing that caused the deaths of two people and injured 111.

Orders for costly manufactured goods dropped unexpectedly in December, primarily because of a steep decline in demand for communications equipment, the Commerce Department said. New orders for durable goods fell 1.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted $168.99 billion. Orders for 1996 were up 5.5 percent, although off from a 7.2 percent increase in 1995.

The US has backed away from a commitment to international family planning and population programs, a Rockefeller Foundation report said. The US contributed $546 million to such programs two years ago, but Congress last year cut funding by 35 percent. The report disputes the idea that family planning leads to an increase in abortions. The abortion rate in Hungary fell sharply because of contraception programs, it says.

Most immigrants from western Mexico who go to California legally or otherwise return home within a few years, and those who stay tend to be educated and have good jobs, a Public Policy Institute of California study showed. The study indicates that 51 percent of illegal immigrants from that area return home from California within two years and more than half of legal immigrants return after 10 years.

Hamas leader Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzuk is no longer fighting extradition to Israel, where he faces terrorism charges. A friend said Marzuk had decided not to appeal his extradition because he doubts he would be given a fair trial in the U.S. Marzuk, who is being held in New York, was detained in 1995 as he returned from a trip abroad. Hamas is Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's most serious political opposition.

There was a tentative settlement in the three-day strike at a GM truck-assembly plant in Moraine, Ohio. Some 4,300 workers walked off the job after rejecting a three-year contract proposal. The proposed settlement came after GM announced its fourth-quarter earnings were down sharply, largely because of labor strife.

The World

New Chechen President-elect Aslan Maskhadov said he would negotiate with Russia over the republic's political status "within reasonable limits." But he proclaimed that Chechnya already had won its freedom. Maskhadov said Chechnya would demand compensation for its losses in 20 months of fighting for independence, but acknowledged the need for strong economic ties with Russia.

Prime Minister Hashimoto of Japan and President Fujimori of Peru agreed to coordinate strategy on the hostage crisis in Lima, and a Japanese news agency said they would meet in Toronto tomorrow. Japan has asked Peru to exercise restraint in its handling of the crisis. Many of the remaining 72 hostages held by leftist rebels are Japanese diplomats or businessmen, and police actions outside Japan's embassy in Lima drew gunfire earlier this week.

Stung by reports of generous US aid offers to Cuba once he's out of power, President Fidel Castro angrily proclaimed that his country remained committed to communism. Castro said the US was trying "to buy us the day we start wavering." Reports from Washington said the Clinton administration was considering $4 billion to $8 billion in financial assistance to Cuba once a transition government was in place in Havana.

China reacted mildly to President Clinton's latest remarks on its human rights policies. The Beijing government said it was "natural for different views on human rights to exist" and that Clinton shouldn't worry about the issue or about the future of freedom for the people of Hong Kong. Clinton had warned that Hong Kong's value to China would fall if the colony's civil-liberties laws were overturned.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan ended ex-Prime Minister Bhutto's bid to return to power. It ruled that her dismissal on grounds of corruption was constitutional. The ruling means that elections for a new prime minister will be held as scheduled on Monday. Bhutto was fired Nov. 5 by President Farooq Leghari. She quickly mounted a legal challenge to regain the office.

Accused Nazi collaborator Maurice Papon drew angry denunciations from Jewish leaders for suggesting that some French Jews had selected others for Holocaust death camps. Papon made the remark in a television interview that Jewish spokesmen called "scandalous" and a "travesty of justice." Last week, the French Supreme Court ordered Papon to stand trial for alleged war crimes.

Unionized workers across Bulgaria walked off the job to support calls for early national elections. The strike began after the ruling Socialist Party announced it would form a new government without honoring President Stoyanov's request to agree to a new vote this spring. The Socialists are widely blamed for wrecking the economy.

A week after resigning as Latvia's prime minister, Andris Shkele was invited by the country's president to form a new government. Shkele quit because of a controversy over his nominee for finance minister.

A cache of sophisticated weapons and ammunition was found at Kuwait's oil-export terminal, a newspaper in the gulf state reported. It said evidence indicated that the arms - among them rocket-propelled grenades - had been hidden carefully "for later use" and were not left over from the 1990-91 Gulf crisis. Government officials had no immediate comment on the report.

The government of Laos defended a proposed $1.5 billion hydroelectric dam that has been the target of environmentalists. It said the Nam Theun II project would be good for business and would help to improve the lives of area residents, many of whom are impoverished. At a three-day conference in Vientiane, the capital, critics argued that the dam would destroy the habitats of 38 endangered wildlife species.


It is not my business to guarantee the viability of a private company."

- Albanian President Sali Berisha, defending his handling of an investment-scheme crisis that has plunged thousands of Albanians into financial ruin.

Corey Samuelson has come up with a variation on the old note-in-the-bottle trick. The Westboro, Mass., youngster released a helium-filled balloon to the winds. Attached was a sticker asking anyone finding the balloon to write back. Two days later, Maurice Thibault did - from St.-Ulric-de-Matane, Que., 450 miles east of Montreal. Scientists say such balloons can climb to 40,000 feet and travel more than 100 m.p.h.

Here's a stunt you should not try at home. Police in Minneapolis say a local man faces numerous charges after falsely reporting that his niece was inside his car when thieves stole it last week. His reasoning: that a faster search would ensue and the car would be found sooner. That did happen. But the little girl was traced to a day-care center where she'd been safe the whole time.

Stunts not to try, Part 2: An Akron, Ohio, college student was charged with robbery after a bank teller asked if she could help and he jokingly said, "Yeah, give me all of your money." He really only wanted to withdraw $10 from his own account. But the teller and police were not amused. He faces a $10,000 fine and five years in jail if convicted.

The Day's List

Measuring the Levels of Segregation in US Cities

The most- and least-segregated cities, according to a University of Michigan study. Cities were graded on a scale, with 100 meaning white people live on blocks only with other whites and black people on blocks only with blacks. A city with no racial pattern would be graded 0.

Most segregated:

Gary, Ind. 91

Detroit 89

Chicago 87

Cleveland 86

Buffalo, N.Y. 84

Least segregated:

Jacksonville, N.C. 31

Lawton, Okla. 37

Anchorage, Alaska 38

Fayetteville, N.C. 41

Lawrence, Kan. 41

- Associated Press

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