News In Brief

The US

President Clinton plans to send his top disaster relief official to his home state to survey damage from about a dozen tornados. The twisters killed at least 21 people and injured 200 others in Arkansas. Gov. Mike Huckabee said the state may have been hit by as many tornados in one day as struck all of last year. Storms also killed as many as seven people in Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Ohio, where floods left parts of Lawrence County under 10 feet of water. In Washington state, avalanches closed a major highway over the Cascade Mountains, marooning hundreds of travelers.

Vice President Al Gore became known as the Democratic National Committee's "solicitor in chief" after Clinton refused to make direct appeals for money, according to The Washington Post. Gore sometimes used methods that donors found inappropriate, it said. Also, Republicans began investigating whether Democrats solicited party donations from bankers to influence bankruptcy policy, The New York Times reported. A $1 million Chicago fund-raiser last summer was sold to the banking industry as a chance to talk with a lawyer Clinton had appointed to head the commission on fixing the bankruptcy system, banking officials said. And Clinton phoned several senators to complain that fellow Democrats were calling for an independent counsel to investigate possible fund-raising irregularities, Democrats said.

Former CIA officer Harold Nicholson was expected to plead guilty to espionage today in Alexandria, Va. He is charged with selling secrets to Moscow since 1994 for $180,000. Meanwhile, FBI supervisor Earl Pitts admitted to conspiring and attempting to commit espionage. Pitts confessed to accepting more than $229,000 from the Russians since 1987 for top-secret information.

The CIA dropped more than 1,000 agents from its payrolls, according to The Washington Post. Most were dismissed because they were found unproductive, but some were suspected of criminal conduct or human-rights abuses, the report said. Many were employed in Latin America during the 1980s and 1990s, it said.

Clinton fended off both Democratic and Republican criticisms for certifying Mexico. The decision is likely to be challenged by Congress, and Sen. Diane Feinstein (D) of California is leading an effort to overturn the ruling. The certification is "perform- ance based," meaning Mexico is expected to demonstrate progress on a variety of fronts to justify its approval as a ally in the drug war, a White House official said.

The FBI began investigating the controversial Los Angeles Police Department after an incident in which two robbers were killed and a bystander injured in a shootout.

Scientists in Oregon produced monkeys from cloned embryos using a technique similar to one used in Scotland to clone sheep, The Washington Post reported. It's the first time a species so close to humans has been cloned, the report said.

FBI agents found 16 bombs at the home of a man in rural Roopville, Ga. But authorities don't believe Mark Turner is linked to the Feb. 21 bombing of an Atlanta nightclub or the twin bombings at an abortion clinic in January. Turner was hospitalized after a shootout with authorities.

Clinton signed legislation to reinstate a 10 percent tax on airline tickets for domestic flights. The aviation tax also imposes a $6 per-ticket fee on international flights.

Some 84 percent of Americans support an international treaty banning chemical weapons, a poll released by advocates found. The Chemical Weapons Convention treaty, which will prohibit the production, possession, and use of chemical weapons, goes into effect April 29 regardless of Senate approval. But the US will be barred from inspection teams without Senate approval before the deadline. The poll conducted by the Wirthlin and Mellman groups, surveyed 1,000 adults nationwide.

McDonald's Corp. franchise owners approved a nationwide program, lowering some sandwich prices to 55 cents with purchase of a soft drink and French fries. The move was expected to spark burger price wars.

The World

Internal opposition in Prime Minister Netanyahu's government will keep Israel from ending its next troop redeployment on the West Bank by Friday, news broadcasts said. Tensions remain high there because of Israel's decision to build new Jewish housing on disputed land in East Jerusalem. Meanwhile, Israel warned Palestinian Authority President Arafat that unilateral declaration of statehood would be a "serious mistake." Arafat said over the weekend that he could make such a declaration in response to the Israeli housing plan.

The cities of Sarande and Vlora in southern Albania had fallen to anarchy, state-run news services reported. Protesters in Vlora demanded that President Berisha dismiss parliament, appoint a new government of technocrats, and agree not to run for reelection. They said he had not gone far enough in firing Prime Minister Meksi in response to the ongoing national crisis over the bankruptcy of pyramid investment schemes. Police were reported to have deserted Sarande as rioters seized control of the city.

Rebel forces in Zaire said they had captured the refugee camp of Tingi Tingi, pushing Hutus from neighboring Rwanda and Burundi ahead of them. The rebels said they also had taken a key town in the path of their advance on Kisangani, Zaire's third largest city. Meanwhile, President Mobutu Sese Seko delayed his trip home from France, despite saying he would return to pursue a solution to end the warfare.

President Fujimori of Peru flew to the Dominican Republic for what aides said was a "very important" meeting with his counterpart, Leonel Fernandez. They were expected to discuss asylum for the leftist rebels who hold 72 hostages inside the Japanese ambassador's home in Lima. Talks on releasing the hostages are scheduled to resume today. The Dominican Republic frequently has served as a place of asylum for exiled rebels and out-of-favor political leaders from other Latin American countries.

Turkey's top generals told the government of Prime Minister Erbakan they want less emphasis on Islamic theology and policies, published reports said. The generals handed Erbakan a list of demands for closer supervision of pro-Islamic radio and TV stations, of secretive Islamic societies, of religious instruction, and for enforcement of a ban on Islamic dress.

The research project in Scotland that produced the first cloned mammal will lose British government funding by next April, the Agriculture Ministry said. A spokesman said the government's commitment "was never long-term" and that since the project had achieved its goal, industry now could assume the role of chief financial backer.

German voters turned out in sunny weather for a key local election that was expected to of-fer an early indication of public sentiment toward high unemployment and other national economic woes. They were to choose local councils in the state of Hesse and its main city, Frankfurt. Opinion polls showed Chancellor Helmut Kohl's ruling coalition would lose its majority in parliament if the Hesse elections were national. Germany's next national election will be in 1988.

Burma's Karen rebels were dealt another blow to their cause when Army troops in neighboring Thailand confiscated a major cache of weapons. The move was seen as part of an effort to keep the Karens from regrouping on Thai soil for counterattacks across the border against Burmese Army units.

Rescue teams battled snow, ice, and plunging temperatures to reach villages in northwestern Iran hit by a powerful earthquake. At least 502 people died in the quake, with more than 2,000 others injured, and 35,000 left homeless, Iran said. Another 100 people were said to have died in neighboring Pakistan.


Our democracy will remain fragile - and our rights mere formalities - if they do not bring real improvements in the lives of people . . ."

- President Nelson Mandela, arguing for new efforts at economic growth and reconciliation among the races in South Africa.

If you phoned the White House, you wouldn't expect your call to be answered by President Clinton. But in Pakistan, Prime Minister Naw-az Sharif picks up incoming calls himself - and not because his staff lacks a receptionist. It's part of a 10-day effort to get public input on how government can work better. Each caller gets 60 seconds. Among other things, Sharif has been asked to ban kite-flying and close the pool halls by 10 p.m.

Sign of the times: A New York distributor has introduced a new candy aimed at the youth market. It's billed as the chocolate bar with an attitude. Da Bronx Bar's wrapper reads: "It's Just MILK CHOCOLATE. You Got a Problem with That?" Five percent of the profits may go to children's programs.

Ever wondered just how exacting are the standards for the Guinness Book of World Records? This is how exacting: 2,845 youngsters assembled from all over Brit-ain failed by 27 seconds to set an endurance record by the world's largest youth orchestra. Nope, said Guinness adjudicators, they hadn't played for the required five continuous minutes. So the record still belongs to a group of 2,023 musicians.

The Day's List

States Scoring Highest on National Math Tests

Scores are from the 1996 National Assessment of Educational Progress tests. Overall, fourth- and eighth-graders in public schools did better than in 1992 and 1990 - the prior two test years. The '96 national average for fourth-graders was 224, for eighth-graders, 272. The states with the highest combined scores (0 to 500 scale):

State Grade 4 Grade 8

Maine 232 284

Minnesota 232 284

N. Dakota 231 284

Wisconsin 231 283

Iowa 229 284

Connecticut 232 280

Montana 228 283

Nebraska 228 283

Indiana 229 276

Mass. 229 278

- US Department of Education/Associated Press

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