News In Brief


US public schools are slipping back into racial segregation, the Harvard Graduate School of Education reported. It said a study of enrollment statistics found that from 1991 to 1994 the nation took the largest backward step toward segregation since the Supreme Court declared segregation laws unconstitutional in 1954. The report says schools are segregating again as nonwhites become increasingly concentrated in urban areas.

White House aides Erskine Bowles and Mack McLarty would not have tried to help Webster Hubbell if they had known he was going to plead guilty to two felony counts, the Clinton administration said. Spokesman Mike McCurry told CNN's "Capital Gang" the men were trying to help the former associate attorney general find work to support his family. Bowles, the White House chief of staff, received a subpoena late last week to appear before the Whitewater grand jury to answer questions about aiding Hubbell.

Congress returns from its spring break today, and officials on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are pondering a budget compromise. White House aides reportedly were sounding out congressional staff about elements of a deal. Talks with key lawmakers may be held soon.

Payroll growth slowed to a smaller-than-expected 175,000 non-farm jobs last month - down from 293,000 in February, the Labor Department said. The unemployment rate edged down to 5.2 percent from 5.3 percent, but wages crept upward. The decline in joblessness was the second consecutive monthly drop.

Astronauts aboard the space shuttle Columbia prepared for an early return to Earth. A failing electric generator forced the decision to cut short a planned 16-day mission, officials said. The shuttle blasted into orbit Friday.

Some 3,500 United Auto Workers went on strike a at a GM assembly plant in Oklahoma City late last week. Union officials said talks on a local contract resumed over the weekend. Sticking points included manpower, safety, and outsourcing of assembly work. Also, machinists at Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth, Texas, plant were scheduled to vote on starting a work slowdown or going on strike if a new accord was not reached before their contract expired at 12:01 a.m. today. A walkout could shut the plant's F-16 assembly line.

The US has tentatively agreed to pay $26 million to the estate of the late President Nixon for his White House papers, The Washington Post reported. Under an accord that could end a two-decade legal battle, control of the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, Calif., would be turned over to the National Archives, the Post said, quoting US and Nixon family sources. All materials seized following Nixon's resignation would be shipped to California under the agreement.

The US will proceed with underground explosions this year, using nuclear materials at a test site in Nevada, officials said. Energy Department scientists said each of two tests, one in June and a second in the fall, would involve chemical, not nuclear, explosions. Small amounts of plutonium would be used, but the blasts will not result in nuclear chain reactions, they said. Opponents view the tests as a possible prelude to renewed nuclear testing and development of new weapons. (Related editorial, Page 20).

Hundreds of people fled flooding in the northern plains as rain and snow added to swollen rivers and streams. Volunteers in Montevideo, Minn., braved subfreezing temperatures to fill sandbags and protect the town's sole water supply from the Chippewa and Minnesota rivers.

New York investment banker Felix Rohatyn is considered the leading contender to be nominated as the nation's next ambassador to France, US officials said. Rohatyn would fill the position left vacant by Pamela Harriman, who died in Paris Feb. 5.

Allen Ginsberg, who shattered conventions as poet laureate of the Beat Generation, died in Manhattan. His first taste of fame and notoriety came after his book "Howl and Other Poems" was published in 1956.


Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was expected in Roch-ester, Minn., for discussions with King Hussein of Jordan prior to his meeting today at the White House with President Clinton. Hussein - who is undergoing medical treatment at the Mayo clinic - is a critic of Israel's decision to build new Jewish housing in East Jerusalem, which has triggered the latest round of Pal-estinian violence. Netanyahu was said to be hoping he could win Clinton's backing for a so-called "final status" peace deal with the Palestinians covering all aspects of the Middle East stalemate in negotiations lasting six months.

The first face-to-face peace negotiations between Zairean government and rebel representatives opened in South Africa. The tone of the meeting was described as grudging, and a spokesman said the two sides only informally exchanged ideas. Meanwhile, rebel forces pushed closer to Zaire's No. 2 city, Lubumbashi.

Interim Albanian Prime Minister Fino called an attack on his motorcade "planned and criminal" after grenades were thrown from ambush to prevent him from completing a trip to the northern city of Shkoder - a stronghold of his political rival, President Sali Berisha. No one was hurt. Fino vowed to continue efforts to reunite the troubled country's rival northern and southern regions.

Muslim fundamentalist insurgents were blamed for the worst outbreak of violence in a five-year campaign against Algeria's military-backed government. News reports put the number of deaths at more than 90 in attacks on six towns. The violence began after cancellation of 1992 elections that a Muslim party seem-ed certain to win. Algeria is scheduled for new elections in June, but that party is banned from fielding candidates.

Horse racing and security officials in Britain rescheduled one of the country's major sports events for today after it was postponed over the weekend because of a bomb scare. Police ordered 70,000 fans evacuated from the Aintree race course when coded warnings were received 30 minutes before the Grand National steeplechase. No bomb was found. The IRA was blamed for the incident.

Moves to extend President Fidel Ramos's term in office could destabilize the Philippines, the country's powerful Roman Catholic Conference of Bishops warned. In a letter read in parish churches across the nation, the bishops opposed a referendum on allowing Ramos to seek reelection next year. The Constitution limits presidents to one term, and Ramos has said he will step down. But he has not put that pledge in writing, and several citizens groups have been petitioning for a plebiscite on extending his presidency.

Only a trickle of voters show-ed up at the polls in the first hours of Haiti's local and parliamentary elections. Despite the fact that the vote was intended to bring democratic government to the local level for the first time in Haitian history, analysts said they expected the low turnout to continue because of mass discontent with President Rene Preval's attempts to conquer the country's widespread poverty.

Russia and Chechnya have deadlocked in attempts to establish stable relations, Chechen President Mashkadov said. He did not explain why. The two sides have been discussing economic relations since February.

Interim President Alarcn of Ecuador was expected to announce a referendum on proposed changes to the country's Constitution. Among those under consideration: dropping the office of vice president and elevating justices to the Supreme Court by a means other than political appointment. Alarcn did not say when the referendum would be held, but other officials have hinted it will be within a month.


The bridge from the 20th century may be leading back to the 19th. We may be deciding to bet the future of the country once more on separate-but-equal."

- From a Harvard Graduate School of Education report that found segregation creeping back into US public schools.

The old antiwar-era slogan "Off the pigs!" took on a whole new meaning on a Lufthansa flight from London to Frankfurt, Germany. As the pilot was preparing to leave, a flashing light in the cockpit indicated a fire in the cargo hold. Emergency crews sprang into action. But there was no fire. The alarm had been set off by the strong smell from a shipment of pigs. The porkers were unloaded and the flight left an hour late.

Tired of getting nowhere with slumlords who make no effort to fix up their properties, Syracuse, N.Y., came up with an effective solution. The city posted signs outside some of the rundown buildings, citing code violations and the owners' names, addresses, and phone numbers. The first sign wasn't up 24 hours before the landlord arrived with a crew to bring the place into compliance.

Alert motorists in Jerusa-lem spotted another driver talking over a cellular telephone as he made his way through the city. Since that is against the law in Israel, they reported the misdeed. The offender confessed and will pay a $225 fine. And who was he? None other than national police chief Assaf Hefetz.


Top Prices for Books or Manuscripts at Auction

A signed, handwritten manuscript of "Gone With the Wind" author Margaret Mitchell's other work,"Lost Laysen," is to go on the auction block April 21 at Christie's in New York. Discovered just two years ago, it was published last year and spent two weeks on The New York Times best-seller list. It's expected to bring about $80,000 - a pittance, compared to this top-five price list (figures in millions, excluding premiums):

1. "The Codex Hammer," Christie's, 1994 $30.8

2. "The Gospels of Henry the Lion," Sotheby's, 1983 $10.8

3. "The Gutenberg Bible," Christie's, 1987 $5.4

4. "The Northumberland Bestiary," Sotheby's, 1990 $5.0

5. Autographed manuscript of nine Mozart symphonies, Sotheby's,1987 $3.9

- Russell Ash, "The Top 10 of Everything, 1997"

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