News In Brief

The US

The House was expected to approve the budget accord between the White House and congressional leaders, one day after the Senate Budget Committee easily passed it with a 17-to-4 vote. Passage was expected despite word from an aide to House minority leader Richard Gephardt that he will not support the accord, which will reportedly balance the budget by 2002.

Crews of the space shuttle Atlantis and Russia's Mir station worked to finish hauling supplies and equipment between the docked spacecraft and Mir. The seven-member shuttle crew and three Mir men - two cosmonauts and an American - were to have everything in place by this morning, when hatches between the two spacecraft were to be closed. Atlantis is to undock tonight and return to Earth on Saturday after nine days aloft.

A move in Congress to impeach liberal judges deserves to fail, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said. A group of GOP lawmakers is pressing for impeachment of some judges on grounds that their decisions usurp power from Congress and the people. Scalia told members of the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil-rights group, that impeachment of judges would be overly intrusive. He is considered one of the more conservative Supreme Court justices.

The Senate seemed close to a final vote on banning a late-term abortion procedure. GOP lawmakers agreed to minor changes in the bill and in return received a stamp of approval from American Medical Association. They hoped AMA support would swing enough votes to overcome a presidential veto. The changes are reportedly designed to shelter doctors from overzealous prosecution. The House had already passed the ban, which provides for exceptions only when the mother's life is at risk, by a veto-proof margin.

President Clinton was scheduled to launch a so-called Welfare to Work Partnership in a meeting at the White House. The heads of Burger King, Monsanto, Sprint, United Parcel Service, and United Airlines are leading this effort to provide companies with guidance on how to train those coming off welfare.

Defense Secretary William Cohen was scheduled to answer questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee about proposals to close military bases, reduce certain weapons contracts, continue sending troops to remote hot spots, and otherwise cut defense forces. A recommendation to hold two more rounds of base closures was expected to draw the most scrutiny.

US subsidiaries of foreign companies gave at least $12.5 million in political donations to US candidates and parties in 1995 and 1996, a study by the Center for Responsive Politics found. It said more than two-thirds of the contributions went to Republicans, one-third to Democrats. During the study period, 128 US subsidiaries of 93 foreign-owned companies donated to US campaigns.

Thirty percent of Americans close to retirement have saved less than $10,000 for the years when they are no longer working, a survey by the research group Public Agenda indicated. In the poll conducted for Fidelity Investments, only 29 percent of respondents aged 51 to 61 reported savings of $100,000.

The threat an oil spill poses to Lake Barre in southern Louisiana is greater than originally reported. Texaco had estimated Friday's pipeline spill at about 17,000 gallons. It is now believed to be as many as 210,000 gallons and a serious threat to sensitive marshland. The area has been closed to oyster harvesting, and shrimpers are being asked to stay away.

The scheduled court-martial of the Air Force's first female B-52 pilot was delayed while authorities waited for Pentagon permission to proceed. Approval was needed because of 1st Lt. Kelly Flinn's request that she be allowed to resign with an honorable discharge. The delay came after an unconfirmed report that the secretary of the Air Force was not inclined to approve Flinn's request in order to avoid a potentially embarrassing court-martial. She is charged with adultery, disobedience, and lying.

The World

The self-proclaimed leader of what was formerly called Zaire was drawing up a new Cabinet to replace the regime of ousted President Mobutu. Laurent-Desir Kabila, who has renamed the country the Democratic Republic of Congo, was to announce a transitional government yesterday in Kinshasa, the capital. Meanwhile, the United Nations refugee agency reported that more than 2,000 citizens have fled to neighboring Central African Republic since Kabila's men took power last weekend.

In the first case of its kind in Great Britain, 36 people are suing the country's two largest tobacco companies. The plaintiffs' attorney charges that tobacco companies knew in the 1950s that cigarettes were a health risk. If the court sides with the industry, he says it could end antitobacco litigation in Britain.

Russia said it would reconsider its new partnership with NATO if it moved to offer membership to the Baltic states. A Foreign Ministry spokesman reiterated President Yeltsin's remarks that any attempt to grant former Soviet republics membership would not be tolerated.

About a quarter of Jewish houses in the West Bank and Gaza are empty, a US survey found. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu dismissed the report as groundless and said he would continue to expand settlements there. Haaretz newspaper said the survey was raised during US envoy Dennis Ross's recent visit to refute Israeli arguments that more construction in the mainly Palestinian areas was needed to accommodate natural growth.

The number of refugees worldwide dropped to 34 million in 1996 - a seven-year low. According to a report by the US Committee for Refugees, one reason for the decline is that refugees are having a tougher time finding asylum. Germany and the US were two of 15 countries named where guarantees of political asylum have been eased.

China praised President Clinton's decision to recommend renewal of its most-favored nation trade status for another year. But Beijing urged Washington to grant the concessions on a permanent basis. The decision was also hailed in Taiwan and Hong Kong, whose economies are closely linked to China's.

Drastic measures are needed to protect Vietnam's children from the rising tide of sexual exploitation, the UN said. UNICEF reported that, although Hanoi had demonstrated a commitment to tackling the problem, implementation of measures remained weak. Some 20,000 children under 18 are said to be victims of prostitution in Vietnam. The percentage of prostitutes that are children has grown from 11 to 15 percent since 1991.

Opposition warlord Rashid Dostum's grip on northern Afghanistan slipped further as fighting raged in his home province of Jozjan, his spokesman said. Dostum has reportedly lost control of another region, Sar-e-Pul. His soldiers are battling a former general who deserted and joined the Taliban religious militia, which controls much of the country. The uprising appears to have seriously weakened the anti-Taliban alliance. Also, the Taliban said they had captured the Shibar Pass.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan condemned a Turkish incursion into northern Iraq. Thousands of Turkish troops pushed into Iraq a week ago in a foray against Kurdish rebels, sparking international criticism. Turkey's defense minister said the incursion will continue until the guerrillas are hunted down.

Yeltsin fired one of his key supporters after he was charged with corruption, his spokesman said. Gen. Konstantin Kobets was dismissed from his posts as chief military inspector and deputy defense minister and discharged from the Army. He was charged with taking a $241,000 bribe.


". . . if you let the legislature intrude too much on the judiciary, we'll be in trouble."

- Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, on a move in Congress to impeach liberal judges.

A Plainville, Conn., car dealer is going - well - bananas, after staying true to his word and bartering away a Cadillac. On the heels of this ad for a 1983 model - "First Ten Thousand Bananas Takes It" - in came a demanding customer with a mountain of fruit. The man had purchased - at wholesale - 10,000 bananas for about $1,100 - less than half the price of the car.

Newlyweds Jeff Graham and Leslie Ashfield are already having their ups and downs. They tied the knot beside the refurbished 60-year-old Blue Streak roller coaster at Conneaut Lake Park in Pennsylvania. After saying "I do's" on the platform, they climbed aboard for a ceremonial ride. They're to spend their honeymoon riding the coaster at Cedar Point Park near Cleveland. He's from Dallas; she's from Quincy, Mass. But they met in England near - guess what? - a roller coaster.

Live-fire commando training at the Navy's Bloodworth Island complex in Maryland has been stopped cold by a pair of expectant peregrine falcons. Wildlife officials say the birds are sitting on eggs in an area where the Navy's SEAL units train. An environmental review is under way.

The Day's List

'Fifth Element' Is Tops At the Box Office Again

For the second consecutive weekend, "The Fifth Element" led all other films in gross revenues May 16-18. However, its stay at the top is expected to end once the blockbuster "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" opens on Friday. Last weekend's top 10 films and their estimated grosses (in millions):

1. "The Fifth Element" $11.6

2. "Fathers' Day" 6.4

3. "Breakdown" 6.0

4. "Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery" 5.6

5. "Volcano" 3.6

6. (tie) "Liar Liar" 3.0

"Night Falls on Manhattan" 3.0

8. "Sprung" 2.5

9. "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion" 2.2

10. "Anaconda" 2.1

- Exhibitor Relations Inc./AP

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