News In Brief

The US

Income growth slowed sharply in April, the Commerce Department reported. Personal incomes rose just 0.1 percent, the smallest increase since a similar advance in October. Economists said it was a further indication the economy is decelerating from its breakneck pace early in the year. Meanwhile, consumer spending reportedly edged up 0.1 percent in April - the smallest increase since September.

Student-loan growth and the proliferation of credit cards are altering the behavior of young adults, U.S. News & World Report said. Between 1990 and 1995, the average outstanding credit-card balance of households headed by someone under age 25 grew to $1,721 from $885, the magazine reported. The average debt related to student loans has reportedly leapt since 1977 to about $15,000 from $2,000.

It was the fourth day of deliberations for jurors in the Oklahoma City bombing case. They cut short their third day without a verdict Sunday after their request to attend church services was turned down by the judge. Sources in Denver close to the case said the judge was concerned they might be influenced by sermons.

Tobacco-settlement talks were stalled over the issue of giving the industry immunity from punitive damages, The Wall Street Journal reported. The newspaper said there were divisions among the 32 states negotiating with tobacco companies and that they would try to forge a common stance before talks resume June 9. Also, jury selection began in a Miami courtroom for a class-action lawsuit on behalf of 60,000 current and former flight attendants seeking $5 billion in damages for illnesses they allegedly contracted as a result of secondary smoke.

The Supreme Court let three US agencies continue to require employees to submit for pre-publication review anything they write that is job-related. The justices, without comment, turned away arguments that the policy violates free-speech rights. The decision affects the State Department, the US Information Agency, and the Agency for International Development.

Residents of Ohio and the two Virginias watched rivers rise after heavy weekend rains. As much as seven inches of precipitation closed roads and threatened homes in Ohio. Authorities said more than 30 people were evacuated along the Cuyahoga River southeast of Cleveland. It was expected to crest at a record level. In West Virginia, two people were missing after floods and mud slides forced hundreds from their homes in four counties.

Abortion opponents leading a recall campaign against Wisconsin Sens. Russell Feingold (D) and Herb Kohl (D) said they were close to forcing an election. The First Breath Alliance said it had 10,000 volunteers circulating petitions over the weekend. They had to collect 391,000 signatures by today. Some 300,000 were reportedly on hand late last week.

General Motors said it was recalling 85,000 1997 Buicks and Cadillacs to replace electronic brake controls after six minor crashes. Vehicles affected are Buick Park Avenue and Park Avenue Ultra, Cadillac DeVille, DeVille d'Elegance, DeVille Concours, Eldorado, Eldorado Touring Coupe, Seville Luxury Sedan, and Seville Touring Sedan. GM said a malfunction may cause the braking system to inappropriately apply antilock brakes, increasing the stopping distance.

The 12-year-old grandson of Betty Shabazz was scheduled to be arraigned in New York after allegedly setting a fire that left her in critical condition. Police said he would be charged with delinquency. Shabazz is the widow of black activist Malcolm X. The New York Times said the boy doused a hallway in her apartment with gasoline and set it on fire because he was angry he had to live with her. The New York Post said his mother, who lives in Texas, sent him to stay with Shabazz to get him away from unruly friends.

The government told a federal judge he must hold up the $4 billion merger of Staples Inc. and Office Depot Inc. because it could not be undone later, no matter what the courts finally rule. US District Judge Thomas Hogan is to decide this month whether to grant the Federal Trade Commission a preliminary injunction barring the merger until courts finish their work on the case.

The World

Socialist leader Lionel Jospin was named prime minister of France after the political left scored a sweeping victory in the second round of national elections. The outcome ensures that for the third time in 11 years leftists and rightists will share power. Leaders of other EU countries said they hoped for continuity in French policy following the election.

Sierra Leone's capital came under fire from Nigerian warships in an attempt to convince coup leaders that they should return power to elected civilian president Ahmed Tejan Kabbah. Kabbah is in exile in Guinea as other west African nations apply pressure to mutinous Sierra Leone troops, who seized power May 25. Maj. Johnny Paul Koro-ma named himself head of state, but observers say his troops are poorly disciplined.

Prosecutors in Seoul vowed to deal "sternly" with rioting students as street violence directed against South Korean President Kim Young Sam entered its fourth day. One policeman died and several people were hurt as students broke through security lines. The students demand Kim's resignation for allegedly spending more on his 1992 election campaign than allowed by law. Meanwhile, a court sentenced the owner of the bankrupt Hanbo steel company to 15 years in prison for bribery and embezzlement. Ten others - one of them Kim's son - also were penalized in the case, which has rocked his government.

Prime Minister Jean Chrtien and his Liberal Party were expected to remain in power as Canadians voted in national elections. At stake were 301 seats in the House of Commons, of which the Liberals held 174 when Chrtien called the vote 1-1/2 years early. He was widely criticized for insensitivity at the time because much of the province of Manitoba was underwater from the worst flooding in a century.

Egyptian efforts have produced "signs of progress" in breaking the deadlock in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Prime Minister Netanyahyu said. But the Israeli leader said he could not predict when negotiations might resume. He accused the Palestinian Authority of encouraging the killings of Arabs who sold land to Jews, saying they "stood the peace process on its head." A senior Palestinian official called his remarks "interference with our laws."

A bomb exploded in central Tirana, the capital of Albania, and police said 16 people were hurt. It went off in a caf favored by followers of the opposition Socialist Party, whose headquarters is a few yards away. The Socialists are widely unpopular in northern Albania, the home of embattled President Sali Berisha. Also near the explosion site is the defense ministry, which has been at the center of months of popular unrest and lawlessness.

Suspicion fell on Islamic extremists after a bomb exploded in a crowded marketplace in Algiers three days before national elections. Ten people were reported dead and at least 40 others injured. It was the fourth such blast in the Algerian capital in three days. Analysts said the bombings appeared aimed at keeping voters home in the first legislative contest since 1992.

Bolivia's next president apparently will be chosen by Congress after national elections failed to produce a clear majority for the front-runner, former dictator Hugo Banzer Suarez. With 88 percent of the vote counted, Banzer led the field of 10 candidates, according to reports from La Paz, the capital. Sen. Juan Carlos Duran was in second place, with ex-President Jaime Paz Zamora third. Congress opens its next session Aug. 4.


"People who are politically active are really active. Everyone else is sleeping."

- An Ottawa resident, explaining why few people he knew planned to vote yesterday in Canada's national election.

Craig Alcantara was right on the money when he ended up behind an armored truck whose doors popped open in Detroit, spilling $247,000. Alcantara is the previously unidentified man (cited in this space last week) who helped himself to almost half of the loot. But although he works two low-paying jobs to support his family, he turn-ed the cash in to police after agonizing over what he had done. "He showed faith in the system," an official said.

A Rutgers University student is wondering whether his "A" for an art-class project was worth the aggravation. Russell Kucinski built a sculpture resembling a bomb out of broken electrical and mechanical parts. But passersby saw it in his car and called police. He was fined $100 and ordered to pay $30 more in court costs.

China's Evel Knievel says he can retire a happy man after clearing the country's second-highest waterfall in a sports car. Ke Shouliang soared over Hukou Falls on the Yellow River and landed 165 feet away on a cushioned ramp. His previous best-known stunt was a 1992 leap over the Great Wall aboard a motorcycle.

The Day's List

Recent Evacuations of US Citizens Abroad

Because of the dangers from a military coup, US military helicopters airlifted some 1,200 people from Sierra Leone in west Africa over the past week. Recent examples of similar missions involving US forces:

May 1990 - 2,400 evacuated from Liberia.

January 1991- 260 evacuated from US embassy in Mogadishu, Somalia.

June 1991 - More than 21,000 US troops and dependents evacuated from the Philippines after Mt. Pinatubo erupts.

January 1995 - Marines support withdrawal of UN forces from Somalia.

April-August 1996 - 2,809 people evacuated from Liberia.

May-August 1996 - 448 people evacuated from Bangui, Central African Republic.

March 1997 - 900 people evacuated from Albania.

- Associated Press

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