News In Brief

The US

President Clinton offered to delay action on his proposed tuition tax credits and other tax cuts to boost the chance of reaching a budget accord, The Washington Post reported. Also, House Speaker Newt Gingrich reaffirmed his commitment to tax cuts after GOP lawmakers criticized him for earlier comments about deferring them. He had suggested the postponement until passage of legislation to balance the federal budget.

French Defense Minister Charles Millon is scheduled to meet with his US counterpart, William Cohen, in Washington today. Millon plans to bring France's demands that Europe play a larger role in commanding NATO to the negotiating table. Washington already has refused to hand over the southern command based in Naples, Italy, which controls the Mediterranean and access to the Balkans, North Africa, and the Middle East. But a NATO official said a compromise is being considered.

Clinton planned to spend a weekend of private time after returning home from his Helsinki summit with Russian President Yeltsin. They agreed on a goal of cutting US and Russian nuclear arms by 80 percent below their cold-war peak. But Yeltsin remained opposed to NATO expansion.

The Mississippi River is expected to crest today at 49.5 feet in Vicksburg, Miss. - more than 6 feet above flood stage. In Beulah, N.D., residents wrestled with 4 feet of water from the overflowing Knife River. Meanwhile, most flood warnings were lifted in Washington state, where some 500 homes were damaged by flooding and mudslides after four days of rain.

A bill outlawing "partial birth" abortions now heads to the Senate after House passage. Also, Virginia Gov. George Allen signed an abortion law with a parental-notification provision. The law requires a physician to notify a parent at least a day before performing an abortion on an unmarried girl under age 18.

The House approved $3.8 million to finance its investigation of campaign fund-raising and to pay for the operation of House committees for 30 days. In a related development, federal agents planned to meet this week with Mark Siegel, a Democratic activist and former lobbyist for Pakistan, regarding his claims against Rep. Dan Burton (R) of Indiana. The chairman of the committee probing Democratic fund-raising threatened to cut off his access after the lobbyist failed to raise $5,000 for his campaign funds, Siegel said.

The US Senate voted to require that the president submit a report by Sept. 1 on Mexico's progress on antidrug efforts. Unlike the House, it did not demand decertification for Mexico.

The Hispanic population is growing faster and has a higher birth rate than any other group in the US, the Census Bureau reported. The group grew by 1 million people last year compared to a 600,000 increase in non-Hispanic whites - the largest racial group in the US. US population growth overall is slowing because baby boomers are leaving their child-bearing years, it said.

Three ships of the Chinese Navy sailed into San Diego Bay - communist China's first port visit to the US mainland. The goodwill tour includes visits to Disneyland and the San Diego Zoo.

Some 47 percent of Americans are less interested in going to major league baseball games than they were before the players struck two years ago, a nationwide Associated Press poll found. But 30 percent said interest is back to normal, according to the survey of 1,000 adults. After the 1995 players' strike, attendance dropped 20 percent but then rebounded by 6.5 percent last year. Respondents also said the increasing cost of attending a major league game has also affected their interest.

The World

Israel's Cabinet met to discuss cutting off negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, an aide to Prime Minister Netanyahu said. The meeting came in the aftermath of a suicide bombing that killed four people late last week in Tel Aviv - an attack the Islamic resistance group Hamas said it had carried out. Meanwhile, Army troops took up positions at malls and parks where Israelis celebrated the Purim holiday.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin returned from the Helsin-ki summit, conceding he had failed to win a US promise that former Soviet republics would not become members of NATO. But he called the meeting with US President Clinton a success because Clinton promised NATO would not move nuclear weapons or conventional forces eastward. The two also agreed on deeper cuts in their nuclear arsenals and to work for ratification of the START II treaty by Russia's parliament.

Zairean President Mobutu Sese Seko made his first public appearance since returning from France and said he would devote himself to the country's interests, not his own. But he refused to indicate whether he would meet with rebel leader Laurent Kabila, whose forces now control one-third of the country. As Mobutu held talks with visiting peace en-voy Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, US troops landed in neighboring Congo to prepare for the possible evacuation of Americans from Zaire. Hundreds of Belgian commandoes were expected to leave today on a similar mission.

For the second Sunday in a row, Albanians rallied in their capital's main square to call for peace. State news agencies reported that order had been restored to two southern port cities, Durres and Vlora, and Italian helicopters ferried in emergency relief supplies. Prime Minister Bashkim Fino was expected to meet European Union foreign ministers today in Rome to seek more international aid for his troubled country.

In a gesture aimed at generating goodwill for the resumption of peace talks this week, Pakistan freed 38 Indian children it had held since 1994. They were among 100 people and several boats seized in a dispute over fishing rights. Indian and Pakistani negotiators are scheduled to reopen their stalled dialogue March 28 in New Delhi.

Thousands of pro-China Hong Kong residents ignored bad weather to stage a traditional parade beginning the 100-day countdown to the end of British rule. Most bystanders refused invitations to join the march, and some protested it by taping their mouths shut.

Despite rain, 40,000 people jammed a stadium in Taiwan to hear the Dalai Lama preach on Buddhist philosophy. His visit to the island has been condemned by communist China. He is scheduled to meet President Lee Teng Hui before leaving Taiwan.

Burma's military government tightened security in the capital, Rangoon, against spreading religious unrest. The trouble began last week in Mandalay, the country's second-largest city, when monks led a rampage after reports that a Buddhist girl had been raped by a Muslim.

Nine German soldiers with suspected neo-Nazi connections will be discharged from the Army for attacking immigrants, a senior commander said. The attacks, in the city of Detmold, triggered a weekend protest against racism by hundreds of Germans outside the base where the soldiers were stationed.

Some 14,000 Belorussians battled police on two fronts in the capital, Minsk, in protest against the pro-Moscow policies of President Alexander Lukashenko. Witnesses said several protesters were hurt when hit by truncheons. Many Belorussians favor membership in NATO and are angry at Lukashenko's campaign to merge the country with Russia.


"Let's be soldiers of an army without generals - soldiers of peace."

- From flyers distributed at a rally in Tirana, Albania, where citizens turned out to support efforts to restore order.

High-school sophomore Ari Hoffman won first prize at a science fair in Marin County, Calif. But judges threw his project out of competition in the larger Bay Area Science Fair in nearby San Francisco, saying it violated a rule against cruelty to animals. Ari's experiment: a study of the effects of radiation on the reproduction of fruit flies.

So there was a bunch of kids waiting for the school bus in Toledo, Ohio, when the air around them filled with floating paper money. They gleefully stuffed their pockets with the windfall until police arrived and obliged them to give it up. It seems the bills were part of the loot from a nearby bank robbery that blew out of the thief's bag as a pack of red dye exploded.

To whip up interest in attending its Easter services, the venerable Church of England is reaching out in a way it hopes the hip-hop generation will relate to: up-tempo TV commercials just like those used in selling potato chips or hair spray. The ads show practicing Christians in prayer at the wheel of a sports car, while playing basketball, and on a night-club dance floor.

The Day's List

US Property Taxes Have Their Highs and Lows

Want to lower your taxes? Consider moving to Montgomery, Ala. According to consulting firm Runzheimer International of Rochester, Wis., homeowners in Montgomery pay only $399 a year on the same size (and almost identically priced) house that would be taxed $5,288 in Buffalo, N.Y. A sample from Runzheimer's analysis of almost 400 metropolitan areas nationwide (with tax percents of home market values).


Buffalo, N.Y. 3.54

Rockford, Ill. 3.51

Pittsburgh 3.15

San Antonio 3.00

Milwaukee 2.80


Montgomery, Ala. .26

Honolulu .35

New Orleans .51

Casper, Wyo. .70

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