News In Brief

The US

Democratic and GOP congressional leaders were to meet with President Clinton to discuss taxes. Officials said they would take stock of where the budget process stands, rather than broach new ideas. House and Senate conferees also were working out tax issues. The lawmakers are trying to reconcile differences in their respective bills in time for Congress to pass final tax legislation before its August recess.

Democratic fund-raiser John Huang may have had a formal relationship with an ex-employer while working at the Commerce Department and the Democratic National Committee, Republican investigators said. Heading into a second week of Senate hearings on campaign fund-raising abuses, Governmental Affairs Committee sources said they had obtained a registration form for a March 1996 World Bank conference on which Huang is listed as an "adviser" to the Lippo Group. The committee wants to know whether Huang used his position at Commerce to provide sensitive information on China to the Indonesia-based conglomerate.

The White House released a sternly worded letter to director Robert Zemeckis, saying his use of presidential sound bites in the movie "Contact" manipulated images of Clinton's public statements, took them out of context, and went beyond the usual bounds of satire and parody. "By appropriating [his] image and words in this manner, you have essentially given him a role in your film without his authorization," White House counsel Charles Ruff said in the letter, dated July 11.

The US is shipping 100,000 metric tons of corn, rice, soya mix, and other grains worth $27 million to North Korea, the State Department said. It is in addition to $25 million in surplus food sent to North Korea in February. Floods have exacerbated a food crisis in North Korea.

Fashion designer Gianni Versace was fatally shot outside his Miami Beach mansion, authorities said. Versace was considered one of the world's leading ready-to-wear designers and a symbol of Italian fashion. He was reportedly shot at point-blank range after walking back from a cafe.

Jury selection was scheduled in the trial of Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, the alleged mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and his co-defendant, Eyad Ismoil. They are accused of planting the bomb that killed six people, injured more than 1,000 others, and caused millions of dollars in damage. Yousef, who holds an Iraqi passport, was indicted in 1993, along with four others, who were convicted and sentenced in 1994. Ismoil, a Jordanian, is accused of driving the van that carried the bomb.

Many US senators have not made up their minds about NATO expansion, a new survey indicated. Commissioned by the Council for a Livable World, a Washington-based arms-control group, the survey found 48 senators either definitely favoring expansion or leaning in that direction - well short of the 67 votes needed to ratify an expanded alliance. The survey lists 26 senators as skeptics or potential opponents of expansion and 25 as having unformed or ambiguous positions on the issue.

Sales at retail stores picked up more strongly than expected in June, following three straight monthly declines, the Commerce Department said. Total retail sales rose last month by 0.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted $210.3 billion after a revised 0.3 percent drop in May.

The computer aboard the Mars Pathfinder overloaded and reset itself for the second time in about three days. To prevent a recurrence, it was decided to stagger the computer's activities, rather than overlapping them.

Food-stamp cuts in last year's welfare law will amount to $28 billion between 1997 and 2002 and a reduction of nearly 24 billion pounds of food, according to a study done for Second Harvest, the largest US food bank. Tufts University's Center on Hunger, Poverty, and Nutrition Policy conducted the study.

Attorney Angela Oh of Los Angeles speaks at the first meeting of the presidential advisory board on race relations. Former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean is a fellow board member; John Hope Franklin is chairman.

The World

Another explosion - the second in two nights - damaged a building used by international elections organizers in Serb-held Bosnia. Spokesmen for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said the incident, in Banja Luka, was a sign of growing Serb anger over moves against war-crimes suspects. Meanwhile, in Doboj, leaflets issued by a Serb group carried death threats against NATO peacekeepers

Hundreds of Kenyan students briefly seized the main highway in Nairobi before being dispersed by riot police. The protesters threw stones, damaged cars, tore down street signs, and again demanded constitutional reforms and the resignation of President Daniel arap Moi prior to elections that must be held this year.

Spain's Basque separatist group, ETA, reacted to the national backlash against its execution of a kidnapped politician by threatening to repeat the action. ETA's political wing, Herri Batasuna, also warned that attempts to isolate the group "risks a dangerous aggravation" of the political problem that has resulted in 10 deaths so far this year - and almost 800 since ETA began its campaign for an independent Basque state in 1968.

An Islamic radical leader was released from prison in Algeria one day after a terrorist bomb killed at least 21 people in a public marketplace. But analysts said the gesture probably would not be enough to end the long and violent campaign to undermine political stability. They said Abassi Madani, who headed the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) when he was jailed in 1992, has been succeeded by younger men. His release was the second of a FIS leader in as many weeks.

A Protestant Orange Order meeting hall in Northern Ireland was destroyed in a firebomb attack that members called a gesture of "derision by republicans and nationalists." The incident, 50 miles west of Belfast, came five days after the group agreed not to parade through Catholic areas of several cities. Meanwhile, talks on Northern Ireland's future were overshadowed by the new British government's admission that it had communicated with Sinn Fein, the political ally of the Irish Republican Army, after saying it wouldn't.

Vital repairs to the Mir space station were delayed for at least eight days after its Russian commander complained of heart problems. The work, to restore power lost after a cargo craft damaged Mir last month, was to have been performed Saturday. Russian officials were considering whether to ask US crewman Michael Foale to help.

A leading opposition politician called on Cambodians to resist the "tyranny" of co-Premier Hun Sen. Sam Rainsy accused him of leading the country "back into terror and darkness." Meanwhile, Australia joined the US, Japan, and Germany in cutting aid to protest the July 5 coup that ousted Hun Sen's rival, Prince Norodom Ranariddh.

Mexico City's new opposition-party mayor will have unprecedented powers, according to reports from the capital. President Ernesto Zedillo broke both written and unwritten codes in granting Mayor-elect Cuauhtmoc Crdenas permission to name his own police chief and public prosecutor. Analysts said the move eases concern that the city would become a political battleground between the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party and Crdenas's leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution.

The government of Thailand ordered a massive review of fire-safety procedures in the wake of last week's hotel blaze that killed 90 people and injured dozens of others. The fire, in the Royal Jomtien seaside resort in Pattaya, burned for more than 12 hours. Survivors said they heard no alarms, and emergency exits were found locked - apparently to keep guests from leaving without paying their bills.


"They have no call to take retaliatory action, and it would be a grave mistake to do so."

- President Clinton, responding to apparent Bosnian Serb attacks linked to the arrest and punishment of war-crimes suspects.

A Washington State man hopes that the rest of his relationship with his wife-to-be goes swimmingly, now that their engagement formalities are over. He meant to give her a diamond ring on an outing in Oregon, but lost it when he fell off a raft into the Rogue River. The ring, in a plastic sandwich bag for safekeeping, floated downstream until a little girl fished it from the water to show to her aunt. By this time, word of the incident had spread, the couple was traced, and the ring was returned.

Some 8,300 people are expected to parade around the streets of Easton, Pa., today . . . and around, and around, and around. But this is no display of civic pride. They aim to set the record for the world's largest game of musical chairs. The last one sitting takes home, among other prizes, a deluxe recliner.


Magazine's Ranking of World's Richest People

Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates has topped the Forbes magazine list of the world's billionaires for the third straight year. Forbes says Gates doubled his worth over the past year. The magazine's top 12 of the superrich, with sources of wealth and estimated net worth in billions (excluding dictators and royalty with no direct roles in business):

1. William Gates, US Microsoft Corp. $36.4

2. Walton family, US Wal-Mart, Inc. $27.6

3. Warren Buffett, US stock market investor $23.2

4. Lee Shau Kee, Hong Kong real estate $14.7

5. Oeri, Hoffman, and Sacher families, Switzerland pharmaceuticals $14.3

6. Paul Allen, US Microsoft Corp. $14.1

7. Haas family, US Levi Strauss clothing $12.3

8. Kwok Brothers, Hong Kong real estate $12.3

9. Mars family, US candy manaufacturing $12.0

10. Quandt family, Germany BMW $11.7

11. Albrecht family, Germany retailing $11.5

12. Tsai Wan-lin and family Taiwan, financial services $11.3

- Associated Press

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