News In Brief

The US

President Clinton plans to take the education policies he unveiled before Congress last week to statehouses around the country, the White House said. The president was scheduled to make the first such visit to the Maryland General Assembly in Annapolis. Officials said the trips will allow Clinton to discuss with legislators the role that states can play in reshaping public education, as well as what he considers to be objectionable parts of last year's welfare law.

Low unemployment rates need not produce rising inflation, the president said in his annual economic report to Congress. The report, prepared by the Council of Economic Advisers, said low inflation and strong growth can go hand in hand, just as high inflation and slow economic growth coexisted in the late 1970s.

One of the president's Whitewater partners, James McDougal, is telling federal prosecutors Clinton knew about an illegal loan to Susan McDougal in 1986, ABC News and The New Yorker magazine reported. The McDougals, along with former Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker, were convicted in May of fraud and conspiracy charges growing out of the Whitewater investigation. Both Jim McDougal and Clinton testified under oath at the McDougals' trial that Clinton did not know about a $300,000 loan to Susan McDougal as alleged by David Hale, who issued the loan.

A former top US envoy to Taiwan is being investigated for allegedly using his position to further private business pursuits, the Los Angeles Times reported. James C. Wood, a former lobbyist and a longtime friend of Clinton, already had been accused of using his post to improperly solicit contributions to the president's reelection campaign. The FBI is investigating both accusations, unidentified officials told the Times.

Republican leaders pressed Clinton to overhaul the US tax system. In a letter to the president, they said the present code is so complicated it has even baffled a new multibillion-dollar computer system at the Internal Revenue Service. Clinton was urged to submit by May 1 a proposal that would be fairer, simpler, and less intrusive.

A manufacturing firm said it had found a new way to speed up computers by quadrupling the performance of microprocessor chips. Officials of California-based Plasma and Materials Technologies, Inc. announced a new way to apply insulation between the millions of tiny connections in a chip's transistors, dramatically reducing interference between the signals they carry. The innovation is still being tested, but could be mass-produced as early as 1998, officials said.

Humans apparently lived in Chile much earlier than previously believed, The Dallas Morning News reported. If verified, the report from Alex Barker, curator of archaeology at the Dallas Museum of Natural History, could revise theories about human migration. Archaeologists have long held that people migrated across a land bridge from Asia to Alaska some 12,000 years ago and then went south. But new evidence from a site some 500 miles south of Santiago, Chile, suggests humans lived there 12,500 years ago.

Marine Corps jets training near Okinawa accidentally fired more than 1,500 radioactive bullets during an exercise more than a year ago, The Washington Times reported. It said the Japanese were informed about a year after the fact. The Times said depleted-uranium ammunition is classified as conventional weaponry and quoted military officials as saying spent rounds are safe unless swallowed.

The countdown continued for the launch of space shuttle Discovery after a problem with leaking oxygen apparently was solved. Launch time was adjusted slightly to 3:55 a.m. Discovery's seven-man crew plans to latch on to the Hubble Space Telescope and bring it into the shuttle cargo bay to upgrade some of its instruments.

US demand for machine tools was estimated at $839 million in December, the American Machine Tool Distributors' Association and the Association for Manufacturing Technology said. The estimated figure for November was $647 million.

The World

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and his Cabinet discussed plans for new troop withdrawals from the West Bank only hours after leaving a meeting on the issue with Palestinian Authority President Arafat. The Cabinet discussions were said to focus on whether the withdrawal would come from areas currently under Israeli authority or from territory under joint Israeli-Palestinian control. Netanyahu is due in Washington Thursday for talks with President Clinton.

Mainstream political parties blamed each other for the election victory of a right-wing extremist in the French city of Vitrolles, near Marseilles. Catherine Megret won the mayor's office in a runoff against a discredited Socialist opponent. The outcome gives the anti-immigrant National Front of Jean-Marie Le Pen control of four local governments in southeastern France, which has a large concentration of settlers from North Africa and a high crime rate.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin announced he would send national security chief Ivan Rybkin to Chechnya for the inauguration of the breakaway region's new chief executive. President Aslan Maskhadov, who was elected Jan. 27, is scheduled to accept the oath of office today. Yeltsin also called for payment of funds to help rebuild schools and hospitals wrecked in the war for independence from Russia.

British Army experts were examining a half-ton bomb the IRA claimed it had left by a construction site near Strabane, Northern Ireland. Houses and businesses in the vicinity were evacuated amid preparations to dismantle the device by remote-controlled robot. Sources said the IRA apparently abandoned the bomb when realizing that its detonator would not work.

Basque separatists were blamed for a car-bomb explosion in Granada, Spain, that killed one soldier, hurt seven other people, and caused heavy property damage. Officials said it at least temporarily meant the end of hopes for a negotiated peace with the Basque group ETA, which has waged a violent 29-year campaign for independence.

Part of a crowd of protesters turned on police in the Albanian port city of Vlora in another day of rioting over the collapse of many of the country's pyramid investment schemes. Demonstrators cornered several policemen and stripped off and burned their uniforms, shields, and weapons. The incident followed the weekend beating of political opposition leaders in a Vlora caf by uniformed, but unidentified, men.

It is unlikely that a multinational force will be sent to Zaire to help evacuate 200,000 Hutu refugees, UN official Sadako Ogata said. But the refugee chief called for safe-conduct corridors through which the refugees could return to Rwanda. Fighting between rebels and Zairean Army troops currently makes the trip to Rwanda perilous, although the rebels have pledged not to attack the area where most of the refugees are concentrated.

Hong Kong's political leader-in-waiting said China will disband all of the colony's local councils after July 1 because they were elected under rules that Beijing never consented to. Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa told officeholders they would be permitted to stay, provided they "love China" and support the postcolonial constitution. Tung reportedly also decreed that an estimated 140,000 Filipinos working in Hong Kong may keep their jobs.

Chinese authorities arrested 500 suspects and imposed a curfew on a mainly Muslim town near the border with Kazakhstan after a riot in which at least 10 people died. The violence erupted in Yining last week during a march for separatism. News reports termed it the worst such outbreak in Xinjiang Prov-ince since the 1949 communist revolution. Muslims there are said to resent the influx of ethnic Han Chinese.


The future belongs to us!"

- Statement by the anti-immigrant National Front, after gaining control of its fourth local government in southern France in less than two years.

A walk in the park may no longer be enough for the modern dog. Especially now that Fido can keep fit just as humans do - at the gym. Total Dog Inc. of Los Angeles provides privileged pooches with a treadmill, lap pool, and outdoor agility course - all supervised by the proverbial "personal trainer." But at up to $20 a visit, canine fitness can be doggone costly.

Sue Evan-Jones had this reaction on learning she'd passed her driver's test: "Are you sure?" But then, it was the Yate, England, resident's fourth try - after spending $30,000 on 1,800 lessons from 10 different instructors. On her first try, she rammed a construction site. Next, she cut off a police car. She failed the third try by going through an obstacle course the wrong way. Her husband, a traffic cop, said she made him proud.

There's word in business circles that the computer industry likes to measure itself against the Big Three auto-makers. The comparison goes this way: If automotive technology had kept pace with Silicon Valley, motorists could buy a V-32 engine that goes 10,000 m.p.h. or a 30-pound car that gets 1,000 miles to the gallon - either one at a sticker price of less than $50. Detroit's response: "OK. But who would want a car that crashes twice a day?"

The Day's List

Ivy League Schools Post Decline in Applications

Coming off an all-time high, applications for admission to Ivy League schools generally are down this year. Officials attrib-ute that to rising costs (about $30,000 per year for tuition, room, and board) and to the trend of applying for early admission to only one college. Application totals for the class of 2001 and the percent change from last year at each school:

Brown, 14,826 - 1

Columbia, 12,983 +9

Cornell, 19,656 - 5

Dartmouth, 10,700 - 6

Harvard, 16,700 - 8

Princeton (not available)

Penn, 15,353 - 3

Yale, 11,940 - 8

- Associated Press/The Boston Globe

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