News In Brief

The US

Residents of Fargo, N.D., scrambled to build up their levees upon news that the Red River would crest 12 1/2 feet higher than expected at 39 1/2 feet. Vice President Al Gore and Federal Emergency Management Director James Lee Witt planned to survey the flooded Red River Valley in the Dakotas and Minnesota for possible additional federal aid. Meanwhile, the Minnesota River is expected to crest this weekend near Minneapolis, prompting more sandbagging south of the city where flooding has already closed roads and highways.

President Clinton planned to commit the government to hiring several thousand welfare recipients over the next four years at a Cabinet meeting, White House aides said. And the White House plans to set an example by hiring its own share of welfare workers, spokeswoman Ann Lewis said. Two former welfare mothers working for the Social Security Administration planned to join Clinton as examples of how the idea can succeed. The meeting coincides with the release of new administration data showing a 20 percent drop in welfare recipients since January 1993.

The CIA apologized to Gulf war veterans for intelligence errors that may have exposed US troops to nerve gas. A series of reports dating back to 1984 should have raised suspicions that chemical weapons were stored at an Iraqi bunker demolished by US troops, the agency's top official for Gulf war issues, Robert Walpole, said in a rare televised news conference. Some veterans believe their physical ailments are linked to chemical exposure at the munitions depot.

Images taken by the Galileo spacecraft show an ocean may lie beneath Jupiter's frozen moon, Europa, NASA scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said. The photos indicate that chunks resembling icebergs at Earth's poles drifted apart. They could be reunited into the original pattern, supporting the notions that a slushy or warm watery layer lies below. The images didn't show proof of life, NASA said.

A congressional panel planned to discuss how to safeguard the confidentiality of documents subpoenaed in its investigation of campaign fund-raising practices. Earlier, Republicans on the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee said they would widen the probe to include GOP congressional races.

The National Transportation Safety Board is examining reports of a missile sighting in the sky near New York on the night of March 17. Pilots of three different passenger jets reported they saw what they believed was a missile or rocket, The Saint Paul Pioneer Press reported. The pilots were on Northwest, Delta, and US Air flights.

More White House officials knew about efforts to help associate Attorney General Webster Hubbell after his 1995 fraud conviction than was first conceded, The New York Times reported. A dozen or so senior Clinton administration aides were involved with Hubbell's situation, the report said. And some aides began tracking Hubbell's legal and personal situation in 1994, according to White House documents.

About 1,800 workers at a Chrysler plant in Detroit walked out after failed negotiations with the automaker. The plant is the only supplier of engines for some of Chrysler's Dodge pickup trucks. The workers are negotiating issues such as health and safety, discrimination against minority employees, and outsourcing, the union said.

Bob Dole is changing career hats again to join a Washington law firm. Known as a Democratic powerhouse, the firm of Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson, and Hand houses former Senate colleagues George Mitchell (D) of Maine and Lloyd Bentsen (D) of Texas. Former Senate majority leader and 1996 GOP presidential candidate Dole said he's looking forward to a "nonpartisan reunion.... The best part will be no filibusters, no cloture votes, and no quorum calls."

The Social Security Administration shut down its Internet site, which gave taxpayers access to their individual earnings and retirement benefit records. Citing privacy concerns, acting commissioner John Callahan said public forums will be held during the next two months to discuss whether such information should be online.

The World

Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat agreed to work more closely with Israeli security forces to prevent new suicide attacks, defense officials in Jerusalem said. Meanwhile, two senior Palestinian representatives were in Washington for meetings with senior US officials. But there was fresh violence in the West Bank city of Hebron.

Jubilant residents of Lubumbashi, Zaire's second-largest city, welcomed the arrival of reb-el forces and burned posters of President Mobutu in the streets. Rebel leader Laurent Kabila call-ed a three-day halt to his advance on the capital, Kinshasa, to allow Mobutu time to resign. If the rebels win control of all of Zaire, Kabila said, Mobutu could retire to his home village.

A vote of confidence on Prime Minister Deve Gowda was scheduled for today in India's Parliament, with signs pointing to the collapse of his government. Two days of negotiations between Deve Gowda's 14-party coalition and the influential Congress Party broke off without a resolution, and all 140 Congress members of Parliament were ordered to vote against him. The showdown was triggered by Congress's March 30 withdrawal of support for Deve Gowda.

A court in Germany ruled that the 1992 murder of an exiled Iranian opposition leader was commissioned by the "highest levels" of the government in Teh-ran. Two defendants in the case were sentenced to life in prison for the crime. The court did not identify Iranian President Rafsanjani or supreme religious leader Khamenei by name. But it did cite a committee to which they both belong as having given the assassination order for Sadiq Sarafkindi and three colleagues. Germany recalled its ambassador to Tehran after the decision and expelled four Iranian diplomats.

The US risks damage to its relations with China by supporting a proposed UN resolution criticizing Beijing's human rights record, the foreign ministry said. It said Denmark, which was expected to introduce the resolution at a rights conference in Geneva, would "suffer the most," calling the resolution "a rock that smashes on the Danish government's head."

Britain's Royal Navy will end its 156-year presence in Hong Kong today - one more step in the process of returning the colony to China. A flag-lowering ceremony also will mark the end of the Royal Navy's shore presence in the Far East. Meanwhile, pro-democracy activists demonstrated outside the office of Hong Kong's leader-in-waiting, Tung Chee Hwa, against plans to curb civil liberties.

Voters in Croatia are scheduled to go to the polls Sunday for local elections aimed at resettling the enclave of Eastern Slavonia. But analysts doubted that the region would soon see Croats and Serbs coexisting peacefully, despite the election. As many as 80,000 Croats were driven from Eastern Slavonia by Serb paramilitaries in 1991, and many remain bitter and worried that more-motivated Serbs will outvote them.

World trade fell two to four percentage points below expectations in 1996 but should rebound this year, according to a study released in Geneva. The World Trade Organization said $5.1 trillion worth of goods and $1.2 trillion in services were sold on international markets - a 4 percent growth rate over 1995. Most of the disappointing performance was blamed on Asian countries.

Norway can't meet the demands on its so-called cradle-to-grave health-care system and will recruit 900 physicians from elsewhere in Europe, published reports said. The Oslo Aftenposten said the effort would focus on Austria, Germany, and Finland. More than 20,000 seriously ill Norwegians have been waiting at least six months for care, despite pledges of prompter treatment.


"We're very close to the finishing line - seeing a united and free Korea."

- Defense Secretary Cohen, on a visit with US troops in South Korea, predicting the fall of the communist North.

If you were amazed and delighted by the Hale-Bopp comet and are wondering what the skies could possibly offer as an encore, read on. Astronomers say "spectacular" displays should be expected in November 1998 from the Leonid meteor shower. Leonids are so nam-ed because they appear in the constellation Leo. The shower comes around every 33 years.

It's common for police to stop motorists for speeding. But in Elkins, W.Va., a vehicle operator is in trouble after doing just the opposite. It seems he was going well under the speed limit - but on a 14-horsepower riding mower. Moreover, he had no driver's license, had collided with a parked car, and was cited for being under the influence of alcohol.

Sweden has given a whole new meaning to the term tunnel of love. After scientists warned that frogs, toads, and salamanders were being flattened in alarming numbers as they tried crossing highway E20 en route to traditional mating grounds at a lake near Goteborg, the government installed twin tubes under the road. Special plastic barriers on both sides of the highway guide the critters into the tunnel openings.

The Day's List

These Cities Are and Aren't Made for Walking

US cities need more federal transportation spending for "traffic calming" features such as speed bumps and sidewalks, according to a joint report by the Washington-based Surface Transportation Policy Project and the Environmental Working Group. The report cites the safest and most dangerous cities for pedestrians.


1. Pittsburgh

2. Milwaukee

3. Boston

4. Rochester, N.Y.

5. New York


1. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

2. Miami

3. Atlanta

4. Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla.

5. Dallas

- Associated Press

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