News In Brief

The US

President Clinton sent Congress a $1.69 trillion spending plan designed to create a $17 billion budget surplus in 2002. But nearly two-thirds of some $388 billion in proposed deficit savings would not occur until 2001 and 2002, after Clinton has left office. Republicans are expected to champion a swifter, steeper schedule of spending cuts.

The Clinton administration began sending letters to 1 million legal immigrants receiving Supplemental Security Income, informing them that they might soon lose their subsidies, The New York Times reported. The president's budget asks Congress to continue some of the benefits.

A group of House Democrats proposed an alternative to the campaign-finance reform bill endorsed by Clinton. Rep. Jim Moran (D) of Virginia said it was the only bill that "has any chance of passing in this Congress." It would set a limit of $8,000 per two-year election cycle on contributions from political-action committees, eliminate unrestricted soft-money contributions to political parties, establish a new voluntary spending limit of $600,000 per election cycle, and limit candidates' use of personal funds to $50,000.

Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin arrived in Washington for the latest in a series of talks with Vice President Al Gore. Among other subjects, they are expected to decide on an agenda, time, and place for a summit between Clinton and Russian President Yeltsin.

Fifty human rights and environmental groups urged Gore to ask Russia to dismiss charges against a former naval captain who last year brought to light radioactive pollution left by the Russian fleet in the Arctic and Pacific Oceans. According to the State Department, Alexander Nikitin was held in prison for six months without charges before being released in December, but he has not been allowed to leave St. Petersburg.

Clinton will appoint a panel of broadcasters, public-interest advocates, and others to suggest ways that broadcasters should serve the public with digital television, Gore announced. With digital technology, stations will be able to offer multiple programming services in the space of a single channel. As a result, they should shoulder additional public responsibilities, Gore said.

The Office of Special Counsel said it was looking into whether Harold Ickes violated US law by discussing campaign donations from his White House office. The White House says Ickes - then Clinton's deputy staff chief - did not solicit a contribution, but merely gave advice to a businessman about where donations to Clinton's re-election campaign could be made. Federal law makes it a felony for US officials to solicit political contributions while on duty in a government office.

The US and Canada will try again to resolve a dispute over dividing the salmon catch in the North Pacific, the State Department said. The two countries have not been able to agree on implementing principles of a 1985 Pacific Salmon Treaty.

The Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged, as expected. That left the rate that commercial banks charge each other for overnight loans at 5.25 percent and the discount rate the Fed charges banks at 5 percent.

The Vermont Supreme Court ruled that using property taxes to fund public schools violates the state's constitution and deprives children in poor communities of an equal education. The unanimous decision follows other court rulings that have objected to wide inequities in what communities spend on their public schools.

Jewish leaders will not call for a worldwide boycott of Swiss banks, a World Jewish Congress official said in New York. He cited an announcement earlier this week that Switzerland's three biggest banks would establish a memorial fund to aid Holocaust victims.

A national wildlife group said the Air Force had agreed to temporarily restrict training exercuses in a region of Arizona' desert that is home to the endangered Sonoran pronghorn antelope. Defenders of Wildlife said there may be fewer than 100 survivors of this species in the US.

The World

Serbian opposition leaders went to Paris to drum up new international support for their democracy movement. Their trip came despite the filing of a bill in parliament by President Milosevic that would cede control of 14 Serb cities to the Zajedno (Together) coalition. Debate on the measure is expected to begin Tu-esday. Zajedno spokesmen said the bill could lead to discussions with Milosevic's government, "but only after they've released all of our people from prison." They also demanded new civil liberties and economic reform.

Mixed-race protesters smashed and looted private property and blocked roads around Johannesburg (above) in some of the worst violence faced by South African President Mandela since he took office in 1994. A demonstration organizer said mixed-race South Africans, known as coloreds, were tired of paying more for municipal services than blacks in nearby townships. Security forces used helicopters, stun grenades, buck-shot, and tear gas to quell the rioting.

Angry Albanians were back on the streets in force after riot police broke up an earlier dem-onstration in the port city of Vlora. An estimated 30,000 protesters converged on the regional government headquarters to demand the return of funds they lost in high-risk investment schemes. Many Albanians hold the government responsible for the collapse of four pyramid schemes in recent weeks.

Rebel leaders in Zaire para-ded thousands of new recruits through the streets of their stronghold, Goma, and said they would be deployed on four different fronts against Mobutu government troops. Rebel leader Laurent Kabila appealed to King Hassan II of Morocco to ignore President Mobutu's request for military aid in the civil war that began last fall.

Red Cross and Roman Catholic Church mediators were expected to begin meetings with the leftist rebels in Peru who hold 72 hostages inside the Jap-anese ambassador's residence. The session was aimed at reopening face-to-face negotiations between the Tpac Amaru leaders and the Peruvian government to end the standoff that began Dec. 17.

Finance ministers and central bankers from the world's seven richest nations arrived in Berlin for weekend meetings on the rising value of the US dollar. Analysts expected no specific moves to influence the dollar against ri-val currencies, but said a continued steady rise could fuel inflation in Japan and Europe. Also a concern: the struggle of European states to qualify for the plan-ned single currency in two years.

UN officials on Cyprus were investigating an early-morning firefight between rival Greek and Turkish patrols. Reports said each side blamed the other for the incident along the UN buffer zone, which may have caused at least one casualty. Tensions were heightened because of a row over Greek plans to deploy missiles in the southern zone of the disputed island.

Another four UN workers were taken hostage by rebels in Tajikistan, raising the total to 16, a spokesman for the organization said. The hostages were taken to a remote location 50 miles from the capital, Dushanbe. Rebel leader Bakhram Sadirov is demanding that his brother and fellow guerrilla be allowed to return from exile in neighboring Afghanistan.

An estimated 2 million Ecuadorans staged a nationwide strike to protest their flamboyant head of state and his unpopular austerity measures. Congress was expected to meet in emergency session to consider impeaching President Abdala Bucaram, who is accused of becoming a national embarrassment. He portrays himself as a comedian, dancer, and pop sin-ger. He has angered many Ecu-adorans by hiking fuel prices and telephone and electricity rates by up to 300 percent since Jan. 1.


A year ago, all of us were concerned about a weak dollar. Now we should be satisfied that we have a stronger dollar."

- German Finance Minister Theo Waigel, on the rebound of the US currency.

Buckingham Palace's wrought-iron fencing usually does a good job of keeping the public out, but some uninvited visitors have infiltrated - and they just won't leave. Palace spokesmen confirm that mice and beetles have been spotted in the kitchens and on residential floors, add-ing to Queen Elizabeth II's - shall we say - domestic pro-blems. The royal extermin-ators have been summoned.

Speaking of protecting royalty, workers repairing the wall of an archaeological site near Nicosia, Cyprus, uncovered a pair of sphinxes and four lions - all of limestone and in excellent condition. Experts believe they stood watch over a royal tomb in the 6th century BC. They're being called "the find of a lifetime."

Cindy McGregor planned the perfect revenge when police in Clinton, Utah, ticketed her for speeding: She'd pay the $80 fine in pennies. But the plan backfired because the town clerk insisted on lar-ger denominations. When she put (or, as the clerk alleges, threw) a pillowcase full of one-cent pieces on the counter anyway, they flew in all directions. Now she's also charged with disorderly conduct. Mrs. McGregor is no stranger to such matters: Her husband is a policeman.

The Day's List

Where Start-Up Firms Most Often Flourish

Cognetics, a Cambridge, Mass., research group, ranks states and metropolitan areas by how successfully they foster business start-ups. Its top four in each category:


1. Utah

2. Arizona

3. Nevada

4. Alabama


1. Salt Lake City-Provo

2. Atlanta

3. Birmingham/Tuscaloosa, Ala.

4. Phoenix


1. Las Vegas, Nev.

2. Huntsville, Ala.

3. Austin, Texas

4. Boise, Idaho

- Associated Press

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