News In Brief

The US

The US crime rate fell in 1996 for the fifth year in a row, as murders dropped 11 percent from the 21,600 killings in 1995 and violent crimes showed the biggest decline since 1961, the FBI reported. Geographically, the largest decease in serious crime occurred in big cities with morethan a million people, where the drop was 6 percent. Rural areas reported a 3 percent decline, and suburban counties registered a 2 percent reduction.

President Clinton began his campaign to win US approval of NATO expansion by telling West Point cadets that an expanded alliance could help spare them the horrors of war. His commencement address capped a week in which Clinton traveled to Paris, London, and the Netherlands to promote the expansion of NATO to include former Soviet-bloc nations. Senate opponents of the expansion are expected to mount a fierce campaign to defeat the plan.

Clinton attorney Robert Bennett said the president was ready to defend himself in court rather than apologize to Paula Jones. Earlier, a lawyer for Jones set three conditions for settling her sexual-harassment case against Clinton. Joseph Cammarata said any settlement must offer an apology, affirm the truthfulness of her account of what happened, and exonerate her of any wrongdoing. He also said he and another Jones lawyer, Gil Davis, would recommend rejecting any settlement that did not include financial renumeration for Jones.

Hospitals should accept a Medicare-pay freeze next year to help achieve $115 billion in savings needed to balance the federal budget, the Clinton administration said. Without a freeze, which Congress would have to approve, hospitals are to receive a 2.8 percent increase in Medicare rates, based on price changes for a "market basket" of goods and services.

Jurors in the Oklahoma City bombing trial began a third day of deliberations in Denver to decide the guilt or innocence of Timothy McVeigh. The seven men and five women appeared to be tired Saturday, but all nodded in agreement when asked if they were willing to resume work on Sunday.

The US will donate $12.6 million to help the UN care for hundreds of thousands of refugees in central Africa, a State Department spokesman said. Efforts by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to care for Rwandan refugees in Congo have reportedly placed a heavy burden on the agency's financial and human resources.

Texas is executing criminals at a pace that is catching up with Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, the human rights group Amnesty International said. The state conducted its eighth execution in May late last week. Another 10 executions are scheduled this month.

The US dedicated its latest national park, Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, in the Flint Hills of central Kansas. The nonprofit National Park Trust bought the Z Bar Ranch to help the National Park Service create the 10,894-acre preserve.

United Auto Workers members voted overwhelmingly to accept a new contract, following a seven-week walkout at a General Motors assembly plant in Oklahoma City. They had returned to their jobs early last week, pending ratification of the agareement.

The Navy relieved a two-star admiral of his duties and the Pentagon said the Army's top civilian lawyer, William Coleman III, was under investigation - both for alleged sexual harassment. Sources said investigations of Coleman and Rear Adm. R.M. Mitchell Jr., who was commander of the Naval Supply Systems Command at Mechanicsburg, Pa., originated from calls to anonymous sexual-abuse hotlines set up last fall after a string of sexual-harassment cases received widespread publicity.

The widow of black activist Malcolm X was burned in a suspicious fire in her Westchester County, N.Y., apartment. Betty Shabazz was hospitalized in critical condition. A policeman said the fire was being investigated as a crime, but did not provide details of the investigation.

The World

Laurent Kabila's forces massacred hundreds of Hutu refugees in their conquest of the former Zaire, the Boston Sunday Globe reported. The newspaper detailed mass graves in towns along the Congo River, adding to similar evidence reported earlier by the Associated Press. Officials of Kabila's government have denied such accusations and threatened to expel human rights groups who make them.

Favorable weather over much of France produced a strong turnout for the second round of national elections. Analysts said voters who sat out the first round last week held the key to the outcome, which could leave President Jacques Chirac sharing power with a leftist prime minister. Chirac's center-right coalition won 36 percent of the vote in the first round, to the Socialist-Communist bloc's 40 percent.

Secretary of State Albright met Muslim, Serb, and Croat leaders in Bosnia and said the US remained committed to building a lasting peace there - but only if they upheld their obligations under the Dayton peace accords. Earlier, she reprimanded Croatia and Serbia for their failure to hand over indicted war-crimes suspects.

Deputy Prime Minister Tansu Ciller will return to power in Turkey July 1, an Ankara newspaper reported. It said she had persuaded pro-Islamic leader Necmettin Erbakan to yield control of the government a year earlier than called for under their power-sharing deal in a move aimed at placating the armed forces. He has angered the military by dragging his feet over orders to curb Islamic radicalism.

Tear gas choked the streets of Seoul as police clashed for a third straight day with thousands of students demanding the resignation of President Kim Young Sam. The protesters contend that he spent more than allowed by law on his 1992 election campaign. Last week Kim offered a vague apology for what he said were "enormous sums," but claimed his rivals had done the same.

A runoff between the top two finishers was expected in Bolivia as voters went to the polls to choose a new president. Incumbent Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada may not run again, and surveys indicated that neither of two former presidents - Hugo Banzer and Jaime Paz Zamora - was likely to emerge with a majority. If that happens, Congress will pick the winner in August.

Democracy activists in Hong Kong began the colony's final month under British rule with a march in memory of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. Thousands of protesters converged on the Xinhua News Agency, China's de facto embassy, urging the Beijing government to free political prisoners. The rally opened a week of plan-ned demonstrations. China is expected to ban such protests when it takes control July 1.

A deal to restore civilian President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah to power in Sierra Leone was reached by negotiators, according to reports from the capital, Freetown. He was ousted in a coup last week. Terms of the agreement call for a shuffling of Kabbah's cabinet to meet the grievances of military leaders. Meanwhile, US marines returned to Freetown to evacuate remaining Westerners frightened by the violence during the takeover.

Security forces in Kenya surrounded the homes of opposition leaders to head off a protest in support of constitutional reforms. The leaders had planned to distribute whistles for their followers to blow during a speech in Nairobi by President Daniel Arap Moi. Moi rejected calls to weaken provisions that give his Kenya African National Union the advantage in elections. But he did promise to change a law that sanctions the use of violence against opposition rallies.


"The President of the United States is not going to apologize."

- Attorney Robert Bennett, saying plaintiff Paula Corbin Jones will be denied at least one of three conditions for an out-of-court settlement of her sexual harassment lawsuit against President Clinton.

Rebecca Sealfon of Brooklyn, N.Y., won the 70th National Spelling Bee in emphatic style - literally shout- ing the letters to "euonym," which means an appropriate name for a person, place, or thing. She outspelled 244 other fourth- through ninth-graders to claim $5,000 in cash, a laptop computer, an encyclopedia, and a trophy. The laptop, by the way, had no spell checker.

Jackie Holmes knows how to soften a blow. He was working on a roof in an office complex in Pittsburgh when the edge of the building gave way. He fell four stories but walked away after landing on a container of plastic insulation that other workers had dropped down a chute.

Used-car dealer George Abchal faces $250 a day in fines for flying too many American flags on his lot - two dozen to be exact. The limit in Melbourne, Fla., is four per property. Abchal calls his display patriotic. But town officials say it's disrespectful to use the flags to sell cars.

The Day's List

Names Reserved For 1997's Hurricanes
















































- Associated Press

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