News In Brief

The US

The US Senate confirmed William Daley as secretary of commerce on a 95-to-2 vote. Daley, a brother of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, is the fourth of President Clinton's second-term cabinet appointees to be confirmed.

Clinton said he would not expand the mission of peacekeeping troops in Bosnia to include hunting down war criminals. But he opened the door to creating a separate war-crimes strike force to do that. Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, the president said such a force should not be involved in peacekeeping nor restricted to Bosnia.

A GOP plan for a balanced-budget amendment could undermine the Social Security system, Clinton said in a letter to Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle. The letter was released as Daschle and other Democrats introduced a bill that would exempt the trust fund from balanced-budget calculations and as the Senate Judiciary Committee prepared to vote on a balanced-budget amendment to the US Constitution. Republicans backing the amendment accused Democrats of using scare tactics to defeat the measure.

A US government report cited worsening human-rights conditions in a number of countries, including China, Nigeria, Cuba, and Burma. The report that China continues to silence dissent came as US and Chinese trade negotiators reported progress toward settling a textile dispute in which the US is seeking access to Chinese markets. It also coincided with a Chinese announcement that Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will visit Beijing next month.

Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan called for a new federal commission to study the consumer price index and determine how much it is overstating inflation. Greenspan was testifying before a Senate committee.

Smokers inhale more tar and nicotine from light and ultra-light cigarettes than numbers on the packs suggest, a study released by the state of Massachusetts said. A lawyer for tobacco companies disputed the findings, saying machines used in the state tests are unreliable and do not reflect standards set by the Federal Trade Commission.

The Justice Department levied a $50 million fine against a US unit of Germany's Bayer AG to settle criminal price-fixing charges involving the worldwide sale of citric acid. The acid is a widely used ingredient in soft drinks and processed foods. The penalty against Haarmann & Reimer and a senior executive, Hans Hartmann, was the second-largest criminal antitrust fine in Justice Department history.

America Online agreed to give refunds to consumers unable to get on-line to use its services. Several states had threatened to sue the company after it signed up hundreds of thousands of new customers without the means to accommodate the increased usage. The company also agreed to largely stop advertising its online service in February and to make it easier for people to cancel their accounts.

Apparent errors in the handling of stocks owned by Anthony Lake were reviewed by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Lake is Clinton's choice to head the CIA. Committee members met in closed session, but a staffer said they were examining Lake's failure to sell energy stocks after being advised to do so by White House counsel as well as a new admission that his broker made at least $2,500 for Lake by buying and then selling stock in a natural gas company.

The number of federally licensed gun dealers has dropped 56 percent in the past three years, the Treasury Department said, attributing the decline to tougher licensing requirements, higher licensing fees, and more inspections.

Airline safety records will be made available via the Internet, starting tomorrow, the Federal Aviation Administration announced. Though airlines will not be ranked, the FAA said records of accidents, major civil fines, and serious incidents would be accessible and understandable to the public at Previously, this information had been available only through formal request.

The World

Teachers across Serbia joined the 10-week revolt against President Milosevic and his ruling Socialist Party. They walked off their jobs at more than 600 schools, demanding back pay and an increase in salary. As the revolt broadened, opposition lea- ders pleaded with the Army and factory workers to lend their support. Meanwhile, state radio reported that Milosevic had fired two more of his government's senior administrators - the directors of telecommunications and hydroelectric power.

Iraqi spokesmen in Baghdad ridiculed US suggestions that a new power struggle against President Saddam Hussein is under way. Earlier this week, Clinton administration officials cited reports that Saddam had placed his wife under house arrest and was changing locations frequently out of fear for his safety. Iraqi dissidents in London claimed the US reports were accurate.

The British governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, made his strongest attack yet against China's plans to roll back civil-liberties laws in the colony. Patten called the proposal "repugnant." His remarks came as Hong Kong's leader-in-waiting, Tung Chee Hwa, was in Beijing to consult with Chinese officials on the repeal of the laws. Meanwhile, Britain's Princess Anne officially opened the consulate in Hong Kong that will serve her country's diplomatic interests once China assumes control on July 1.

Palestinian Authority President Arafat asked the US not to extradite Hamas leader Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzuk to Israel. His appeal came as the Pal- estinian militant group itself warned that the extradition would shatter Middle East stability. Earlier this week, Marzuk dropped his fight to avoid extradition. Israel wants to try him for conspiracy to commit murder.

Hizbullah militants claimed responsibility for a remote-controlled bomb attack that killed three Israeli soldiers in south Lebanon. A fourth soldier was hurt in the pre-dawn incident in Israel's so-called security zone. The infantry patrol apparently was targeted in retaliation for an Israeli air raid earlier this week on Hizbullah positions in Lebanon.

Burundi's military-backed Tutsi president, Pierre Buyoya, promised an investigation into UN reports that his army has killed at least 1,000 people over the past seven weeks. The UN said the violence marked a new escalation in the country's three-year-old war with Hutu guerrillas. Human rights observers accuse the mostly Tutsi army of responsibility for another 1,100 deaths in October and November.

At his trial in Tokyo, Japanese sect leader Shoko Asahara pinned blame on a former disciple for directing the 1995 nerve-gas attack on the city's subway system. Asahara implicated Yoshihiro Inoue, the onetime Aum Shinri Kyo "intelligence minister." Inoue had warned in earlier court testimony that Asahara would make just such a move. Asahara is charged with plotting the attack that killed 12 people and made thousands of others ill.

Massive numbers of Afghans urgently need food and other assistance, the Red Crescent Society said. The Muslim equivalent of the Red Cross appealed for international donors to help residents of Kabul, one of the world's most war-ravaged cities. The crisis is aggravated by the arrival of tens of thousands of penniless refugees ordered to leave their homes north of the capital as the Taliban religious army makes gains in the region.

Thousands of Muslims rioted in Indonesia after hearing reports that a Chinese Christian businessman had insulted their religion. The protesters smashed 18 cars and ransacked scores of shops, a bank, four churches, and a Chinese temple in a town 30 miles east of the capital, Jakarta. It was the fifth such incident in recent months as ethnic and sectarian tensions increase in the country.


These data show that when the consumer picks up a cigarette labeled 'light,' it is like buying skim milk and not knowing that it is whole cream."

- Prof. Jack Henningfield of Johns Hopkins Medical School, on a new study of smokers' intake of tar and nicotine.

A new breed of athlete has soared into the million-dollar bracket. No, not in baseball, football, basketball, or hockey. On Sunday, 800 of the world's fastest homing pigeons are to compete in a 377-mile race in South Af- rica. Total purse: $1 million.

Speaking of high finance, oil baron John D. Rockefeller's wealth was equal to 1/65th of the US gross national product in the early 1900s, according to the new Michael Klepper and Robert Gunther book, "The Wealthy 100." Rockefeller's fortune: $1.4 billion. Today's wealthiest American, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, is worth $15 billion - only 1/425th of the GNP in current dollars.

Frigid International Falls, Minn., is packing away the bowling pins from its annual Icebox Days festival. What do bowling pins have to do with the cold? Instead of being knocked down by heavy black balls, they're slammed into by frozen turkeys that contestants roll down Main Street.

The Day's List

Precipitation Records Set in Many US States

For four states, 1996 was the wettest on record, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration preliminary statistics. In 12 other states, '96 was sufficiently wet to rank among their 10 dampest years. The states and their '96 precipitation figures (in inches):

Record set last year:

Idaho 26.11

Oregon 41.15

Pennsylvania 52.72

West Virginia 58.91

'96 among top-10 years:

California 32.05

Connecticut 60.00

Delaware 58.23

Indiana 47.27

Maryland 57.19

New Hampshire 52.74

New Jersey 57.68

Ohio 45.15

Rhode Island 55.81

Vermont 52.03

Virginia 54.32

Washington 47.51

- National Climatic Data Center

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