News In Brief

The US

Police arrested two men suspected in a spate of bombings in Vallejo, Calif., and recovered 500 pounds of stolen dynamite found at the home of a relative of one of the suspects. The attack on a courthouse was a "bombing for hire" to prevent the trial of a third suspect who remains at large, police said. Another explosion destroyed three bank teller machines, and investigators found more than 60 sticks of wired dynamite in the trunk of a car outside an apartment complex. If detonated, the explosives could have leveled much of the neighborhood, they said.

The Justice Department and a federal grand jury looking into Democratic Party fund-raising asked the party in early January for records on more than 40 individuals and corporations, USA Today reported. Among the requests: records on Little Rock, Ark., lobbyist Paul Berry, a friend of President Clinton, and information on fund-raising by Global USA Inc. - a Washington lobbying firm that represents influential Asian companies. Berry is a consultant to the company and once was its president.

Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori was scheduled to meet with Clinton and Secretary of States Madeleine Albright at the White House. He was expected to discuss his recent talks with Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto in Toronto. The men agreed to push for direct negotiations between Peru and leftist rebels holding 72 hostages in the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima. But they ruled out guerrilla demands for the liberation of about 400 rebels jailed in Peru.

Incomes among US workers rose 0.8 percent in December, the largest growth in the last six months, the Commerce Department reported. But the US experienced a dip in economic growth last year: Although earnings were up 5.5 percent from the previous year, the figure was 6.3 percent in 1995. Growth in consumer spending was also down from 1995. But construction spending for 1996 was 4 percent - 0.2 percent higher than in 1995.

Apple Computer Inc. may lay off as much as 20 percent of its work force if the company decides to sell its Newton computer division and other key assets, The Wall Street Journal reported. Revenue is expected to fall 20 percent this fiscal year to $8 billion, due to slow sales of its flagship Apple Computers.

A moratorium on capital punishment: That's what the American Bar Association may push for in Congress and state legislatures. Its policy-making House of Delegates, meeting at the ABA's national convention in San Antonio, plans to propose adopting the recommendation to the 370,000-member group. A report prepared by two ABA groups recommends no further executions "unless and until greater fairness and due process prevail." ABA president Lee Cooper and the Clinton administration don't support the initiative.

Authorities are trying to determine whether Dr. Jack Kevorkian was involved in the deaths of two women. The body of an unidentified woman was discovered in Kevorkian's van outside a medical examiner's office. The other was brought to a hospital in Pontiac, Mich., by a woman who said her friend had stopped breathing. Kevorkian is expected to stand trial this spring in Iona, Mich., on assisted-suicide charges. A condition of his bond was to refrain from participating in further suicides.

Married couples tend to cut back on drinking and drug use, according a study by the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor that tracked 33,000 adults from 1976 to 1994. And adults who remained single increased their substance intake. Feelings of responsibility toward others is a key factor in alcohol and drug use, one author said.

The National Governor's Association was expected to approve a committee decision to urge that Congress restore some welfare benefits to immigrants. The bipartisan compromise softens an earlier draft document to call on Congress to restore disability and food-stamp benefits to legal immigrants too elderly or ill to become US citizens.

The World

One day after their violent put-down of an antigovernment rally, riot police in Belgrade again blocked protesters demanding that President Milosevic concede defeat in local elections won by the opposition. Police used clubs, tear gas, and water cannon Feb. 2 to disperse a peaceful march - their greatest show of force in 2-1/2 months of daily demonstrations. At least 80 protesters were hurt. France, Germany, and Britain condemned the incident. France invited opposition leaders to Paris for an official visit "as soon as possible."

The outcome of Pakistan's national election was expected to become clear today, after what monitors called a dismal turnout. Millions of eligible voters were believed to have stayed away from the polls because they distrust the country's political leaders or because of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan..

Bulgaria's capital was tense as protests in favor of new national elections entered their fifth week. Opposition supporters blocked rush-hour traffic, the city's public transportation system was shut down by strikers, and consumers were reported to be hoarding gasoline. Socialist premier-designate Nikolai Dobrev was scheduled to address the nation on whether his ruling party would yield to calls for an election by May. The Socialists are widely blamed for wrecking Bulgaria's economy.

Israeli troops opened a controversial thoroughfare in Hebron to Palestinian traffic, fulfilling a key pledge in last month's peace agreement. Private cars were denied access to Martyrs Street, which passes the city's Jewish neighborhood, but ambulances and taxis were permitted to pass. Meanwhile, Public Security Minister Avigdor Kahalani - a member of Prime Minister Netan-yahu's Cabinet - said Israel must pull its troops from the so-called security zone in south Lebanon because too many were being killed by Hizbullah guerrillas.

A powerful bomb exploded outside a dormitory for US students in Paris, but no injuries were reported. The blast, at Cite Universitaire, caused extensive property damage. France had tightened security after a December explosion killed four people in a Paris subway. That incident was blamed on Algerian Islamic militants.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard is expected to seek his party's approval today for a move to convert the country to republic status. Howard is a staunch supporter of the British monarchy, but he made a 1996 election campaign pledge to hold a national convention on the issue. A referendum on becoming a republic could be scheduled in two years, sources said.

Within hours of an appeal by communist North Korea for increased food aid, the South Korean Red Cross promised to ship 700 tons of flour. In unusually candid terms, the famine-stricken North said it had only half the grain needed to feed its people and that it was "really grateful" to the international community for previous assistance. The Red Cross shipment, expected today, will be the second in a week.

Somali faction leader Hussein Aideed appealed for international aid, calling the drought in the country's southwestern sector "a disaster." Last month, UN officials warned that such aid might soon be needed.

Military officials in Colombia said they may have lost as many as 25 soldiers in a weekend assault by leftist rebels. Scores of others were reported wounded or missing. The rebels attacked an Army base 30 miles from the capital, Bogota. Fighting was reported to be so fierce that helicopters ferrying in reinforcement troops had to drop them miles from the base.


Administration of the death penalty ... is a haphazard maze of unfair practices, with no internal consistency."

- From an American Bar Association report recommending a moratorium on capital punishment.

If you're measuring by the inch, a Rembrandt may just have become history's most expensive painting. At auction in New York last week, a European collector paid $2.9 million for the world's smallest Rembrandt, a 2-by-4-in. portrait of an elderly man. Experts doubt that anyone has ever paid more per square inch for a painting.

The state of Arkansas is doing an unexpectedly brisk business in duplicate license-plate stickers. It seems the new stickers - if applied upside down - indicate that a license expired 11 years ago, in 1986. They're color-coded, so police recognize a current sticker when they see it. But more than a few motorists are buying replacements - at $1.25 each.

With Valentine's Day approaching, could there be a better way to take a romantic walk in winter than with a heart-shaped mitten for two? Sharon Ronda and Tom Baring of Fairbanks, Alaska, make "Love Gloves" - by hand, of course.

University of Nebraska student Jeremy Sonnenfeld was only trying to impress some high schoolers in a Lincoln bowling tournament when he - uh - got on a roll. Sonnenfeld put together three straight perfect 300 games. The American Bowling Congress was considering whether the feat should go into the record books.

The Day's List

Top 10 Box Office Films

The newly enhanced version of "Star Wars" blazed a motion-picture frontier, becoming the top-selling January weekend release in US history. The best-selling movies and their estimated grosses for Jan. 31-Feb. 2 (in millions of dollars):

1. "Star Wars" $36.2

2. "Jerry Maguire" 5.6

3. "Scream" 4.8

4. "Metro" 4.4

5. "Beverly Hills Ninja" 4.3

5. "Evita" 4.3

7. "In Love and War" 3.9

8. "The Relic" 2.9

9. "Gridlock'd" 2.8

10. "Mother" 2.6

10. "Michael" 2.6

- Exhibitor Relations Inc./AP

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