News In Brief

The US

Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., announced that prosecutor Kenneth Starr will step down from the Whitewater probe to take a full-time job Aug. 1 as dean of its schools of law and public policy. Starr said the probe would be unaffected by his departure and that the investigation would be concluded as promptly as possible.

Several donations to the National Republican Senatorial Committee ended up in the coffers of New York Gov. George Pataki, The New York Times reported. It said checks deposited into one of two state-level accounts were intended for national Senate races. Several contributors to the national fund, which is headed by US Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (R) of New York, weren't notified that their donations were rerouted, the report said. D'Amato defended the action, saying he is not required to tell contributors where the money is going.

Records indicate that Democratic fund-raiser John Huang traveled coast-to-coast to solicit donations for the party before he left his senior Commerce Department post. The Hatch Act prohibits political fund-raising by federal employees. Huang apparently began the fund-raising while on a leave of absence from the government without pay. But officials say he would have had to resign before the Hatch Act restrictions could be lifted.

China denied that it tried to funnel funds to the Democratic Party. Referring to reports in last week's Washington Post that evidence had emerged that the Chinese Embassy in Washington was interested in providing the money, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Tang Guoqiang called the report "totally fabricated" and based on "ulterior motives."

President Clinton was scheduled to give a speech in Boston today on juvenile crime. He was to travel from New York, where he planned to speak at a luncheon for the Business Enterprise Trust on ways the private sector can pick up where government leaves off. He also planned to attend a fund-raising dinner in New York for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

The US Supreme Court ruled that companies can be sued by former employees who say they suffered retaliation - such as a bad job reference - for accusing those employers of discrimination. The ruling reinstates a lawsuit against Shell Oil Company by a black sales representative. The court also ruled that states may enforce their own prevailing-wage laws, which set trade-by-trade minimum compensation for workers on state construction projects. The decision sets new guidelines for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, because the California law wasn't preempted by a federal benefit-protecting law. And the court rejected an appeal by three white Illinois prison guards who lost a promotion that went to a black man they say was less qualified.

The nation's largest thrift, H.F. Ahmanson and Company, made a takeover bid valued at nearly $6 billion in stock for Great Western Financial Corp. Great Western is the nation's second-largest thrift, with assets of about $44 billion. The companies' combined assets weigh in at $93 billion.

The US plans to announce a resumption of food aid to North Korea within a few days, the State Department announced. The US promised $10 million in new food aid in addition to $6.1 million in aid already sent to the country, a senior official traveling in Europe with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said. US food assistance was suspended last September when a North Korean submarine ventured into South Korean waters.

Former astronaut and senior US Sen. John Glenn (D) of Ohio is expected to announce this week that he will not seek a fifth term next year, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported. The newspaper was quoting a Democratic Party source it did not identify.

Lawyers were to present closing arguments in the trial of John du Pont, who is charged with killing Olympic wrestler David Schultz. After hearing three weeks of testimony, jurors will decide whether the chemical fortune heir is guilty of murder, innocent by reason of insanity, or guilty but mentally ill.

The World

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright proposed a military brigade to be formed of NATO and Russian troops. In a speech to alliance foreign ministers in Brussels, she said the force should be developed "immediately" to complement NATO's vision of a partnership with Russia in which there would be regular dialogue on key security issues. Russia fiercely opposes NATO's expansion plans for eastern Europe. She is due to meet Russian President Yeltsin Friday in Moscow.

An official North Korean broadcast said "cowards" who want to leave the country should do so. It did not mention senior government adviser Hwang Jang Yop, whose defection to rival South Korea last week is considered as a possible motivation for other disaffected leaders to do the same.

China's government moved to quell rumors that senior leader Deng Xiaoping was near death. It said there was "no major change" in his health, despite reports that President Jiang Zemin and Premier Li Peng had hurried back to Beijing from trips to outlying areas. Concerns about Deng have shaken stock markets in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Zairean warplanes bombed rebel-held towns in the sharpest escalation so far of the country's five-month civil war. Aid workers said the attacks killed at least seven people, wounded more than 20 others, and sent hundreds of civilians fleeing for safe-ty. A delegation of African diplomats was expected in the capital, Kinshasa, to try to arrange a summit to deal with the situation.

British Prime Minister John Major survived a key vote in Parliament over his government's handling of the so-called "mad cow" controversy. Analysts said the defeat of a motion critical of Agriculture Minister Douglas Hogg should lessen speculation that Major will have to call early elections. The motion lost by 13 votes, although Major's Conservative Party no longer has a majority in the House of Commons.

Seven suspected members of the terrorist group known as the Japanese Red Army were arrested in Lebanon, a government official said. The leftist organization, which has been sympathetic to Palestinian causes, was blamed for numerous violent attacks in the 1970s, including one in which 24 people were killed at an Israeli airport. The Japanese government said it was prepared to seek extradition of the suspects if they were positively identified as Red Army members.

Union leaders and the Colombian government agreed to a settlement of the country's public-sector strike. The eight-day walkout by an estimated 800,000 workers was the largest in 20 years. Terms call for a 20 percent pay increase for the workers and a joint commission to review the government's plans for privatizing numerous industries.

Another US serviceman was sentenced to a prison term for assaulting and robbing a civilian on Okinawa. Marine Cpl. Brian Bergen of Connersville, Ind., was ordered to serve 5-1/2 years for the crime. Last month, another marine received a five-year sentence for the same crime. Their attack on a woman tavern owner last September followed by one year the rape of a girl by US servicemen, which prompted an outcry against American bases by many Okinawans.

An ongoing feud between motorcycle gangs was blamed for a missile attack on a jail in Denmark. No injuries were reported in the incident because an antitank missile that penetrated the building did not explode. Police in Holbaek, 30 miles west of the capital, Copenhagen, were holding a member of the Bandidos gang, which is engaged in a violent turf war with the rival Hells Angels. Eight people have died in their feud since 1994.


We've had some ups and downs. Why not have an up period?"

- Prime Minister Alain Jupp of France, bidding goodbye to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright after they met to smooth out differences in US-French relations.

Somewhere in posh Newport Beach, Calif., a sailboat owner is asking: Why me? The city's famous harbor is home to some 9,000 pleasure craft. Unfortunately, a sea lion nicknamed Stinky pick-ed one of them to nest in, using the cabin for his belly flops and otherwise making a nuisance of himself. It took harbor police a month to figure out that revving their engines would chase him away. However, he's expected back.

The musical "Evita" has done well at the box office in the US. But in Argentina, home of the legendary Eva Peron on whose life the sto-ry is based, it's off to a rough start. Reviews have been lukewarm, and Vice President Carlos Ruckauf called for a boycott on grounds that the film insults her memory.

Poking fun at Arab leaders is what Hisham Yanis does for a living. But as one of Jordan's first political satirists, his work has certain occupational hazards. Yanis once looked into the audience and saw the butt of many of his jokes - King Hussein himself. And sitting beside him was the chief of Jordan's feared intelligence agency. Yanis took a deep breath and went on with the show. Hussein went on laughing.

The Day's List

Top 10 Box Office Films For Feb. 14-16 Weekend

Best-selling motion pictures, studios, and estimated grosses (in millions of dollars). "The English Patient," "Jerry Maguire," and "Shine" are Academy Award nominees for Best Picture.

1. "Star Wars," 20th Century Fox $21.3

2. "Absolute Power," Columbia $16.8

3. "Dante's Peak," Universal $14.3

4. "Vegas Vacation," Warner Bros. $13.1

5. "Fools Rush In," Columbia $10.0

6. "That Darn Cat," Disney $6.5

7. "Jerry Maguire," Columbia $5.3

8. "The English Patient," Miramax $5.0

9. "Scream," Miramax $3.6

10. "Shine," Fine Line Features $3.5

- Associated Press

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