News In Brief
The US House appeared poised to pass the largest tax cut for Americans in 16 years despite strong White House and Democratic opposition. The measure proposes $135 billion in reductions to middle-class families, businesses, and investors over five years. The Senate was not expected to finish work on its own tax legislation until at least today.
In a flurry of decisions as the US Supreme Court attempted to clear its docket, the justices gave President Clinton the authority to veto specific items in spending bills, struck down part of the 1966 Communications Decency Act that allowed Congress to regulate pornography on the Internet, and ruled unanimously that persons diagnosed as terminally ill do not have the right to doctor-assisted suicide.
The Senate Judiciary Committee opened hearings into the $368.5-million deal between cigarette makers and the attorneys general of 40 states suing to recover the costs of treating people with smoking-related illnesses. Chairman Orrin Hatch (R) of Utah promised a fair review, citing "arguments on both sides." Congress must ratify the settlement. Meanwhile, a Florida judge ruled that the state cannot seek $16 billion from the tobacco industry for anticipated future damages.
Industry leaders called new air-pollution requirements approved by Clinton "a crushing blow to state and local governments, local economies, and taxpayers." At a ceremony in Nashville, Tenn., he said the standards would be controversial but would improve protections against dirty air. He gave the go-ahead after weeks of intense debate within the administration. The American Lung Association called Clinton's decision "a huge victory."
Secretary of State Albright canceled a two-night visit to Cambodia, citing safety concerns. During a gunfight last week in Phnom Penh, a grenade landed on the US Embassy grounds. The cancellation did not affect the remainder of her Asian trip, which included stops in Vietnam and Hong Kong.
African-Americans now make up 12.8 percent of the US population - the highest in this century - the Bureau of the Census reported. It said black women number 18.1 million and black men 15.8 million - a combined 3.5 million more than in the 1990 census.
National Weather Service director Elbert "Joe" Friday was fired in what critics called an attempt to make him the scapegoat for budgetary problems confronting the agency. The Commerce Department said it was hoped he would accept reassignment to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
General Motors was expected to announce its smallest price increase in a decade for the 1988 model year beginning Oct. 1, The Wall Street Journal reported. It said the 1.3 percent hike reflected fierce competition in the US auto market. Ford and Chrysler were expected to follow GM's lead, the Journal said.
Montgomery Ward, the nation's largest privately owned retailer, laid off 22 percent of its corporate staff in a move to help stave off bankruptcy. But industry analysts said the company needed to make deeper cost cuts to reverse a continuing pattern of losses. Montgomery Ward is projected to lose $250 million in the first half of the year.
As expected, Tim Duncan of Wake Forest University was the first player chosen in the National Basketball Association draft. The 6 ft.,10 in. All-America center was taken by the San Antonio Spurs. The draft was conducted at Charlotte, N.C.
The Los Angeles restaurant at the center of the O.J. Simpson murder trial appears to have closed, neighbors said. Mezzaluna, in the city's Brentwood section, reportedly has not served meals since last week, and a local monthly newspaper said it had been contacted about an advertisement for the auction of the restaurant's furniture. Simpson's ex-wife, Nicole, favored the restaurant, and Ronald Goldman was a waiter there before their deaths.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was in Vietnam to strengthen ties between the US and its former enemy. During her two-day visit, Albright was expected to hold talks about MIA-POW issues, sign a copyright agreement to improve trade, and attend a ground-breaking ceremony for a new US consulate in Ho Chi Minh City.
The Republic of Ireland has a new prime minister. After winning the backing of independents for his pledges to cut crime and taxes and to work for a Northern Irish peace, Fianna Fail leader Bertie Ahern was to be named as the country's youngest Taoiseach. Ahern, who will head a minority government, has said he will not talk with Sinn Fein, the political ally of the IRA, until the latter gives up its violent campaign to end British rule in Northern Ireland.
Three more Palestinians were murdered for selling land to Israelis in the Gaza Strip and two others are missing, a Jewish settler said. He told the Associated Press he was a member of a secret association that has bought dozens of acres from Palestinians. Palestinian police were not available for comment. Since May, three Palestinians have been killed for allegedly selling land to Israelis. Israel has accused the Palestinian Authority of being behind the murders. It denies the accusation but vows to prosecute 20 land dealers in custody.
China's most famous dissident, Wei Jingsheng, was severely beaten by fellow prisoners, who were told they would get reduced sentences if they attacked him, human rights activists said. Wei is serving a 14-year sentence for sedition.
For the first time, Swiss banks agreed to let an outside body decide claims to Holocaust-era accounts. They will publish the names of all unclaimed accounts July 23. The banks are under intense pressure to release what Jewish groups say are billions of dollars in accounts of Holocaust victims.
Filipino troops battled Muslim rebels who took a busload of people hostage in the southern city of Cotabato. At least seven people were killed, but 40 of the 60 hostages managed to escape during the fighting - the worst since the Moro Islamic Liberation Front began peace talks with the government in January. The Muslims are fighting for a separate homeland.
Forces loyal to a former dictator reported that they had taken control of Congo Republic's airport. After a day of heavy fighting, Col. Denis Sassou-Neguesso's militia said it had taken the airport to prevent the arrival of foreign mercenaries allegedly recruited to help the Army. Between 1,000 and 3,000 people have died in the fighting, which began June 5.
Hong Kong democrats accused Britain and the US of betrayal by sending envoys to the handover ceremony, when an elected legislature will be replaced by one handpicked by China. Britain said its decision was not a climbdown and that it hoped the legislature would be replaced by a more representative body.
An astronaut and two cosmonauts will have to wait almost two weeks to repair the Russian space station Mir. A craft with repair supplies will be launched in 11 days. Mir was damaged when a cargo ship collided with it during docking. The three were able to seal a module before it depressurized but lost up to one half of their energy supply.
A former top member of Japan's Aum Shinri Kyo sect pleaded guilty to a 1995 Tokyo subway nerve gas attack that killed 12 people and injured 5,000 others. Yasuo Hayashi had been on the run for two years when he was captured in December.
"The government may not reduce the adult population ... to ... only what is fit for children."
- Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the Supreme Court, which ruled that Congress may not curb sexually explicit material on the Internet.
Julia Whalen emerged from a Columbus, Ohio, hair salon on the morning of her wedding to find her car had been broken into and her gown was gone. But the detective at a nearby department store came to her rescue. He arranged to open the store early, and other employees found her a replacement dress, shoes, and accessories and even helped with her makeup. No word on whether they got to attend the reception.
Speaking of weddings, the Rev. John Reid officiated at an unusual ceremony in Denver. The bride and groom, Alverta and Charles Wilbur, were his own in-laws. It seems their first marriage ended in divorce 32 years earlier. Each had remarried but then became widowed. They were reacquainted and decided love would be lovelier the second time around.
If you wanted to report a case of sexual discrimination on the job, the place to do so would be the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. But in Chicago if you call the toll-free number listed in the phone book for the EEOC, you get - guess what? - a phone-sex line whose sultry-voiced receptionist asks for your credit card number.
The Day's List
Cities Where People Pay Most for Their Housing
Housing in San Francisco is the costliest in the US, according to a survey by the real estate division of Ernst and Young consultants in Los Angeles. The survey compares expenses of buying a four-bedroom home (or renting a two-bedroom luxury apartment) to local median family incomes. The 10 cities where people pay the most, with estimated percentage of incomes used for housing:
1. San Francisco 39.7
2. New York 38.3
3. Los Angeles 36.8
4. Honolulu 33.1
5. Miami 32.1
(tie) Boston 32.1
7. Oakland/East Bay, Calif. 31.5
8. El Paso, Texas 31.1
9. Pittsburgh 30.8
10. San Jose, Calif. 29.9