News In Brief

The US

The balanced-budget agreement moved closer to final passage after the Senate voted 55 to 45 to reject a 43 cent-a-pack cigarette tax that would have generated $20 billion for health-care coverage for 5 million low-income children. The measure also would have reduced the budget deficit by $10 billion. Defeat came after Clinton intervened for a second day to prevent tampering with the budget agreement. Congress also passed a bill to protect volunteers from some lawsuits for harm caused while properly engaged in volunteer work. But it makes exceptions for willful misconduct, flagrant indifference, or criminal activity.

The House voted to reopen the US market to tuna imports without restrictions and change the "Dolphin Safe" label found on canned tuna. Under the bill, tuna could be sold with the designation even if caught by huge nets using a procedure called encirclement, which has been blamed for the deaths of more than 6 million dolphins. Observers will now have to be on board tuna fishing boats to monitor whether dolphins are killed.

Astronaut Jerry Linenger is scheduled to touch down on Earth tomorrow after four months on the Russian space station Mir. If Atlantis lands as scheduled, Linenger will have spent 132 days in orbit, the second-longest spaceflight by an American. Shannon Lucid set the record of 188 days last year. Linenger says he plans to go fishing upon his return.

The Air Force was expected to announce whether 1st Lt. Kelly Flinn would be given an honorable discharge. Earlier, Air Force Chief of Staff Ronald Fogelman defended his department's prosecution of Flinn, saying her case isn't about adultery, but about lying and disobedience. Her honesty is of special concern to the Air Force because she has flown B-52 bombers carrying nuclear materials, he said.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright planned to outline a program that would reward rival ethnic groups in Bosnia willing to implement the Dayton peace agreement. She is expected to target moderate Bosnian Serbs who have already received US backing during an address in New York. Albright plans to visit the Balkan country next week.

The Justice Department announced its first conviction in the campaign fund-raising scandal. Democratic fund-raisers Nora and Gene Lum agreed to plead guilty to a felony charge that they arranged to pass $50,000 through "straw donors" to congressional candidates in the 1994 election. The couple spearheaded fund-raising efforts among Asian-Americans.

President Clinton nominated John Kornblum to be ambassador to Germany. Kornblum is assistant secretary of state for European and Canadian affairs. Phil Lader, a Democratic Party loyalist, is Clinton's pick for the London slot, several US officials said. And the president favors State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns for the post of ambassador to Greece, they said.

The Little Rock Nine were honored in a Washington ceremony to commemorate the bravery 40 years ago. The NAACP gave tribute to the group of nine men and women for risking physical harm and enduring racial taunts in their efforts to desegregate Little Rock, Ark., schools. All nine eventually became college graduates.

The nation's insurance capital passed a bill that tightens oversight of health-maintenance organizations. The measure also gives consumers the right to appeal their health-plan's decisions when they are denied coverage. Analysts say the bill passed in Hartford, Conn., could influence other states to pass similar laws.

FBI general counsel Howard Shapiro announced he's resigning to join a major Washington law firm. Shapiro denied his resignation had anything to do with a recent Justice Department review that said he showed "very poor judgment" in his contacts with the White House during the FBI files controversy. The review cleared him of wrongdoing.

The World

Russian President Yeltsin sacked his defense minister over stalled military reforms. Soldiers go months without pay or adequate rations, and the country's combat ability has collapsed. Gen. Igor Sergeyev was appointed acting defense minister, replacing Igor Rodionov. Yeltsin also fired Russia's top commander, Gen. Viktor Samsonov.

In a reported crackdown on Palestinians selling land to Israelis, local residents said six people were arrested near the West Bank town of Hebron. Palestinian officials refused to confirm the arrests. The Israeli Yediot Ahronot newspaper says dozens of arrests have been made in recent days. Palestinians say the land sales allow expansion of Jewish settlements and threaten hopes of establishing a Palestinian state.

Burma's military dictatorship continued its latest roundup of prodemocracy activists. At least 100 activists have been arrested so far. Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi vowed to continue with her National League for Democracy congress despite the crackdown.

Northern Ireland's Protestants accused Britain of giving IRA supporters an edge in Wednesday's elections. The Protestants say the high-profile meeting between Sinn Fein leaders and new Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam gave the political wing of the IRA media coverage during voting. British broadcasters usually restrict candidates' air time on election day. Final results were to be announced today. After the talks, the first since the IRA broke its cease-fire last February, both sides said they were cautiously optimistic about chances for a new cease-fire.

Iranians go to the polls today to choose a new president. Campaigning closed with thousands of people rallying for Mohammed Khatemi, seen as a reformer who would rein in the clergy. His main opponent is hard-line Speaker Nateq-Nouri, who has the clergy's support and the tacit backing of spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Some 6,000 candidates will vie for positions in French elections Sunday. President Jacques Chirac called the elections 10 months early, saying he needed a "new elan" to press ahead with economic reforms and join the single European currency. Polls show it to be a tight race that could either give Chirac a center-right majority or force him to share power with a left-wing government.

Switzerland rejected US claims that it prolonged Nazi Germany's ability to fight in World War II. But, in its first detailed response to a US Commerce Department report, the Swiss Federal Council acknowledged it had entered into some "questionable deals" with the Nazis. Switzerland accepted gold plundered by the Nazis, and Jewish victims' belongings were reportedly sold in Switzerland.

About 200 Kurds occupied the UN's European headquarters in Geneva for five hours, protesting a Turkish incursion into Iraq. A protest spokeswoman said they agreed to go after negotiations during which they were promised a statement by Secretary-General Kofi Annan condemning the incursion. Also, Turkey's news agency reported that troops had cleared all Kurdish rebel bases from a 200-mile stretch of the border. In nine days, troops have pushed 125 miles into Iraq - deeper than ever before.

Albania's politicians agreed to go ahead with general elections June 29, European mediator Franz Vranitzky said. The agreement ends a deadlock that threatened to plunge the country into further crisis.

Haiti postponed controversial Senate elections, bowing to international pressure. The Organization of American States has said it found irregularities during first-round voting April 6. The elections, originally set for Sunday, will be held next month.


"They braved the elements ... and their courage would rewrite history."

- NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund co-chair William Coleman during a tribute to the Little Rock Nine, who 40 years ago endured racial taunts and risked physical harm in their efforts to desegregate Arkansas schools.

Some of the 134 parishioners at St. Michael's Church in Wheeling, W.Va., thought the Rev. Jim Sobus had gone nuts when he gave out $10,000, instructing them to use the same zeal they exercise in secular affairs to make the money grow. He was vindicated six months later when the altar table was piled high with $51,490.62. One teenager used her share to sell sodas, and a doctor went door to door with brooms on his day off. The money will be used for charity in the area.

Firemen on Mercer Island in Washington responded to an alarm at the Island Middle School only to find that a wall unit had been triggered by an iguana. When they were summoned back to the school a few hours later, they'd lost their sense of humor. The iguana, which was once free to roam the biology classroom, is now confined to its cage.

The Day's List

Winners of Pro Tennis's Grand Slam Tournaments

The French Open, which starts Monday in Paris, is the second of this year's four Gand Slam tournaments. The first was the Australian Open in January. The final two are Wimbledon (June 23-July 6) and the US Open (Aug. 26-Sept. 8). Following are Grand Slam winners and the year they won:

Don Budge, US 1938

Maureen Connolly, US 1953

Rod Laver, Australia 1962

Rod Laver, Australia 1969

Margaret Court, Australia 1970

Steffi Graf, Germany 1988

Three Out of Four

Jack Crawford, Australia 1933

Fred Perry, Britain 1934

Tony Trabert, US 1955

Lew Hoad, Australia 1956

Ashley Cooper, Australia 1958

Roy Emerson, Australia 1964

Jimmy Connors, US 1974

Mats Wilander, Sweden 1988

- Newsweek

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