News In Brief

The US

Attorney General Janet Reno is expected to reject a request today for an independent counsel to investigate campaign fund-raising. Switching to such a probe could cause unnecessary delays and complication for the Justice Department's investigation, one official said. Republican lawmakers had asked Reno to consider an independent counsel to investigate allegation of improper Democratic fund-raising in the 1996 campaign.

Trading resumes on Wall Street today after the Dow Jones industrial average plunged 148 points Friday to 6,391. The loss erased what was left of 1997's gains. Analysts attributed investors' jitters to inflation concerns: The government reported unexpected increases in wholesale prices and consumer activity.

The House is likely to vote on two pieces of tax legislation tomorrow. One would be an amendment to the US Constitution that would require a two-thirds vote of Congress to pass a tax increase, except in the case of war or national emergency. The other would create criminal penalties for Internal Revenue Service employees who snoop through taxpayer files.

US and Saudi intelligence investigators linked a top Iranian official to a group of Shiite Muslims suspected of bombing an American military compound in Saudi Arabia last year, The Washington Post reported. Brig. Ah-mad Sherifi, a senior intelligence officer, met about two years before the bombing with a Saudi Shiite arrested March 18 in Canada, they said. Canadian officials have identified the man, Hani Abd Rahim Sayegh, as a participant in the explosion that killed 19 US service personnel.

Sandbags held their ground in Fargo, N. D., as the Red River crested at 37. 6 feet - 20 feet above flood stage and its highest point this century. But officials warn that ice floes could rip open the dikes. They said the town won't be out of danger for another week. Residents downriver, in Grand Forks, say they need to add another million sandbags to the 1 million they've filled so far in anticipation of a 49-foot crest expected in two weeks.

Violent crime saw its steepest drop since the survey of victims began 24 years ago, the Justice Department reported. Experts attribute the more than 12 percent drop in 1995 to various factors, including better police strategies, tougher gun control laws, and the aging of a baby-boom generation past the prime years for committing crimes.

President Clinton requested a quick US Supreme Court ruling after a federal judge declared the line-item veto unconstitutional. The measure passed by Congress last year allows a president to veto individual spending items without targeting an entire bill. The judge said it gives the president power the Constitution reserves for Congress.

A San Francisco US District judge gave temporary protection to California doctors who recommend marijuana to their patients. Judge Fern Smith barred government prosecutions until a full hearing can be held on the issue. A meeting between federal officials and supporters of Proposition 215, the measure allowing medical use of marijuana, is scheduled for Thursday. The government has threatened to prosecute or disqualify from Medicare and Medicaid doctors who recommend such use.

Thousands of demonstrators protested the separation of church and state in Montgomery, Ala., at a "Save the Commandments" rally. Gov. Fob James, Attorney General Bill Pryor, and Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed spoke in support of a state judge who was sued in 1995 by the ACLU for praying in court and displaying the Ten Commandments behind his bench. The suit was thrown out on a technicality, but a circuit judge later ruled against the defendant, Judge Roy Moore.

Clinton signed a directive to make the nation's 1.9 million federal employees eligible for 24 hours of unpaid leave for family obligations such as medical appointments. He hoped the move would prompt Congress to guarantee such benefit for private-sector workers. Republicans generally oppose the bill as govern- ment intrusion on business.

The World

President Mobutu of Zaire rejected a rebel-imposed deadline to resign or go into exile, amid signs that the forces of Laurent Kabila were ready to resume their march toward the capital, Kinshasa. Mobutu did, however, leave the door open to face-to-face negotiations with Kabila on the country's political future.

The advance party of peacekeepers in southern Albania was swelled by the arrival of French troops. They joined 120 Italians who had landed last Friday. Eventually, the force is expected to number 6,000. Its main duty will be to protect the distribution of food and other relief supplies in the troubled country.

Palestinian workers from the West Bank and Gaza were allowed to report to their jobs in Israel for the first time since a suicide bombing in a Tel Aviv caf March 21. Security forces assured that each Palestinian was at least 35, married, and held the required permit. Meanwhile, news reports said Prime Minister Netanyahu had held discussions with opposition leader Shimon Peres on forming a "unity government" that would negotiate a "final status" treaty with the Palestinians.

Hundreds of thousands of Iranians marched on the German embassy in Tehran, demanding revenge for the verdicts against their rulers in a murder case in Berlin last week. Demonstrators pelted the building with tomatoes last Friday. Iran said it would recall its ambassadors to all EU countries that summoned their diplomats home for consultations after the verdict.

Technical delays marred the start of elections on the political future of Croatia's eastern Slavonia region, and UN administrators said the voting likely would be extended into today. The election is aimed at helping to reintegrate the region into the rest of Croatia and to paving the way for the return of Croat ref-ugees to homes seized by Serbs in 1991. Eastern Slavonia is still Serb-dominated, but many of its current residents do not want to live under Croat rule.

Angry leaders of India's Congress Party said they would try to oust Sitaram Kesri as their president today after his successful effort to bring down the government of Prime Minister Deve Gowda. Gowda lost a no-confidence vote in Parliament last Friday, but will serve as caretaker until a new government is assembled. If none can be, new elections are likely - something no political party says it wants. The Congress Party took heavy losses in last year's national elections.

Military police armed with tear gas, water cannon, and rubber bullets broke up a weekend demonstration by striking teachers and their supporters in southern Argentina. One person was killed, eight others were hurt, and 20 were arrested. The outbreak came on the 35th day of a strike over salary reductions and layoffs. Argentina's national teachers union called a countrywide walkout for today.

Minutes apart, grenades were thrown into a restaurant and a hotel in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, reports said. They exploded, killing one woman and injuring 41 other people. There were no claims of responsibility, and police would not comment on a possible motive. The restaurant was favored by Ethiopia's foreign community. The hotel is named for the Tigray region, home of most of the members of the national government.

Early turnout was heavy in Mali's second experiment with multiparty elections since gaining independence from France in 1960. Voters were to choose 147 members for the new parliament, with a followup election for president May 4. Only a dozen foreign observers were assigned to monitor the balloting, which the government attributed to confidence in Mali's democracy.


"This kind of joke will backfire.... I don't accept ultimatums from gang leaders."

- President Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, rejecting a demand by the country's rebels that he resign or go into exile.

How many cheerleaders does it take to spell out Lynx - the nickname of the teams at Lincoln High in Council Bluffs, Iowa? Answer: 66. It seems the rules weren't followed during tryouts for next year's squad, which led to hurt feelings among some of the candidates. So administrators ruled that the only fair way out of the problem was to accept everyone who auditioned. And if that leads to some ear-splitting cheers for the football and basketball teams, so be it.

If you're one of those people who file federal income tax returns at the last possible minute, someone may be waiting for you at the post office tomorrow night. No, it won't be an IRS official. As a promotion for National Poetry Month, the Academy of American Poets plans to hand out free copies of T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland" to late filers in several major cities. The first line of the poem: "April is the cruelest month."

Orelia Jones got off with a warning for speeding in Milwaukee, despite orders from the top for stricter enforcement of the city's traffic laws. But she paid an $86 fine anyway. Why? Because her husband is the police chief, and he wanted no appearance of favoritism.

The Day's List

States With the Fastest-Shrinking Welfare Rolls

Public welfare caseloads have dropped by 20 percent in the US since January 1993, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. The 12 states with the greatest drops in cases, followed by the numbers of cases in 1997, and the percent change from January 1993 to January 1997:

Wisconsin: 123,758 - 49%

West Virginia: 68,600 - 43%

Oregon: 66,919 - 43%

Indiana: 121,224 - 42%

Oklahoma: 87,144 - 40%

Tennessee: 194,860 - 39%

Mississippi: 108,365 - 38%

Mass.: 207,932 - 37%

North Dakota: 11,904 - 37%

S. Carolina: 97,146 - 36%

Alabama: 91,569 - 35%

Wyoming: 10,117 - 35%

- Associated Press

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