News In Brief

The US

Space shuttle Columbia and a crew of seven returned to orbit to complete a science mission cut short April 8 by alarming voltage swings in a fuel cell. Meanwhile, a US spacecraft was scheduled to visit Mars tomorrow to explore dust and rocks on the Red Planet. The Pathfinder probe, which will feature a stationary lander and a tricycle-size surface rover, eventually will lead to human expeditions to the planet, space officials said.

The Monitor Web site - - will offer live audio and video feeds from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., tomorrow. Visitors will be able to see and hear activities in the lab during the landing of the Pathfinder space probe on Mars, courtesy of Vosaic, Inc. ( To tune in, visitors must have a Windows 95 or Windows NT platform, 28.8 modem for video (14.4 modem for audio only), and a Java-enabled browser.

The House inquiry into campaign fund-raising abuses was thrown into turmoil when its chief lawyer resigned, saying he hadn't been given sufficient authority to run a "professional, credible investigation." At least one other investigator for the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee quit in support of the attorney, John Rowley.

China improperly diverted a US supercomputer to one of its military research facilities earlier this year, The New York Times reported. Secretary of State Albright raised the issue with Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen, when they met in Hong Kong this week, a State Department spokesman told the Times. US officials reportedly determined two weeks ago that the Sun Microsystems computer had not reach its intended destination in Beijing, but was shipped to a defense and scientific research institute in Changsha.

President Clinton called for a "global free-trade zone" on the Internet and promised to have some key patent, privacy, and copyright policies in place within 12 months. The president made the plea shortly before signing an international agreement to eliminate tariffs on an array of computers, semiconductors, and telecommunications technology by 2000.

A lawyer for Dr. Jack Kevorkian announced the deaths of two seriously ill women in the Detroit area, but refused to say whether the country's leading assisted-suicide advocate was involved. At a hastily called news conference in Southfield, Mich., attended by Kevorkian, attorney Geoffrey Fieger said the women were from New Jersey and California.

Factory orders fell in May for the second time in three months, the Commerce Department said. Orders declined 0.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted $323.3 billion, a bigger drop than the 0.2 percent predicted by economists. The news came as the Federal Reserve began the second and last day of a policy meeting amid widespread speculation among Wall Street economists that it would leave interest rates unchanged.

The Army commander who oversaw the training conducted by seven drill sergeants charged with sexual misconduct at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland has been suspended, an Army spokesman said. Lt. Col. Martin Utzig was suspended late last week in advance of an Army Inspector General report that is expected to be critical of training at the base, about 20 miles north of Baltimore.

American Airlines offered half-price tickets for children 2 and under to encourage parents to use child-safety seats. The discounts are available to all fares except government and military rates, a spokesman said. Parents will have to supply their own child-safety seats, but most seats used in automobiles are suitable for airline use, he added.

Robert Mitchum, who died at home in Santa Barbara, Calif., was a Hollywood movie star for half a century. His career took off in 1945 after he received his only Academy Award nomination, for the role of Lt. Walker in "The Story of G.I. Joe."

A Duke Ellington Memorial is unveiled at Duke Ellington Circle in the Harlem section of New York. It is reportedly the first public monument celebrating the great jazz pianist and composer.

A federal lawsuit accused Tandy Corporation of discriminating against black employees by hand-picking a less-qualified white candidate for marketing director without notifying others of the vacancy. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Tandy in Dallas, alleging the company violated US law by failing to promote two black employees and firing one who complained to the agency.

The World

Crews worked to soak up as much as possible of the worst oil spill in Japanese history. The Panamanian-registered Diamond Grace supertanker leaked an estimated 4 million gallons of crude into Tokyo Bay off Yokohama after striking an undersea reef in daylight and calm waters. Prime Minister Hashimoto declared the accident a national emergency.

For the second time in two weeks, fighting broke out between troops loyal to Cambodia's rival premiers. No casualty reports were available after the two sides traded mortar and rocket fire at a naval base 18 miles northwest of the capital, Phnom Penh. The two premiers are sharply divided over how to negotiate peace with the fast-fading Khmer Rouge rebels.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Foreign Minister David Levy failed to resolve their differences in a crisis meeting in Jerusalem. Levy, who threatens to resign over Netanyahu's leadership style and management of the peace process, left, saying: "I have to determine my stand." The meeting was overshadowed by the death of a Palestinian in fresh violence in the Gaza Strip.

More heavy rains wiped out the final festivities marking Hong Kong's return to China, and the territory prepared to get back to business. Meanwhile, leader Tung Chee Hwa - at a news conference - repeated pledges to hold legislative elections by June 30, 1998.

Sectarian tensions rose in Northern Ireland as Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams demanded that Britain block a controversial Protestant march through a Catholic neighborhood in Portadown - and a Protestant guerrilla group vowed to execute "civilians" in the neighboring Irish Republic if a ban was imposed. Ireland's new Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern, also urged a ban on Sunday's scheduled parade on the Gravaghy Road in Portadown.

Newspapers in London asked editorially, "Is Labour going to have to offend people at last?" as new Prime Minister Blair's government prepared to unveil its first budget. It was expected to propose a heavy new tax on privately owned utilities, while attempting to balance plans for building schools and hospitals against campaign pledges to hold down personal taxes. Blair would use the utility tax to fund a welfare-to-work program for 250,000 jobless young people.

NATO troops in Bosnia provided increased security for embattled Serb sub-state President Biljana Plavsic. She is believed to have been threatened after accusing her predecessor, indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic, of thievery and enlisting government officials to engage in smuggling. She attempted to fire the interior minister, a Karadzic loyalist, and said she would seek replacement of the prime minister. Karadzic's Serbian Democratic Party ordered her to leave her headquarters in Banja Luka and return to his base in Pale, or resign.

Albania's capital narrowly avoided late-night violence between armed groups as an argument erupted over who control-led internal security. The interim Socialist government, apparently the winner of last weekend's election, accused President Sali Berisha of blocking its attempts to establish control over the Interior Ministry. Berisha conceded defeat, but has not said whether he will step down.

Saying his government would "give fundamentalism no breathing space," new Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz vowed to continue the military's campaign against Islamic activism. He was named to the post earlier this week by President Suleyman Demirel to try to end months of controversy because of the fundamentalist leanings of his predecessor, Necmettin Erbakan.


"[Hong Kong] will have a high degree of autonomy for a long, long, long time."

- Tung Chee Hwa, at his first news conference since taking over as leader of the territory after its return to China.

For the third year in a row, Jim Doll arrived in Wenat-chee, Wash., for the town's Apple Blossom Festival in - and we're not making this up - his "Cowdillac," a white limousine painted with black spots. And for the third year in a row he was ticketed because the horn, which makes a "mooooooo" sound, can be heard more than 200 feet away. Sympathizers picketed the courthouse, holding signs that read: "Udderly Ridiculous." He says he plans to "moooooooove for dismissal" of the complaint.

Graduation season was weeks ago across most of the US, but one final valedictorian story deserves mention. At Jordan-Eldridge High School in upstate New York, Sacha DeForest wanted to leave her fellow graduates with a truly memorable message, so she sang instead of reciting a speech. Her choice: "Places That Belong to You," from the film "The Prince of Tides." She plans to major in opera in college.

The Day's List

Top 10 Money-Makers From Vacation Travel

The figures aren't in yet on how many visitors descended on Hong Kong for its June 30 transfer ceremonies - or on how much money they left behind. But the former British colony already was one of the world's favorite destinations, according to the UN's World Tourism Organization. Its top 10 - based on 1995 statistics - and their earnings from vacation travel (in billions):

1. US $58.3

2. France $27.3

3. Italy $27.0

4. Spain $25.0

5. United Kingdom $17.4

6. Austria $12.5

7. Germany $11.2

8. Hong Kong $9.0

9. China $8.7

10. Thailand $7.5

- Russell Ash, "The Top 10 of Everything/1997"

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