News In Brief

The US

UPS and the Teamsters Union were closer to a strike settlement than they were four days ago, UPS chairman James Kelly said. But he predicted the two-week-old strike could continue "much, much longer" if talks break off in the next few days. He spoke after negotiators recessed for about 12 hours shortly after midnight Sunday. During the recess, a Teamsters spokeswoman said the two sides remained far apart on major issues.

After urging the parties to reach a strike settlement, President Clinton left for a three-week vacation on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. He is due back in Washington Sept. 7.

Clinton wants to impose an additional $50 billion levy on tobacco companies, a top aide said. Bruce Reed, White House domestic-policy advisor, told The Wall Street Journal the tax would balance a write-off for the industry that was included in the budget recently approved by Congress and signed by the president. Industry officials have warned that changes sought by the administration could jeopardize the settlement reached by states and tobacco companies.

Officials of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted 839 to 193 to share full communion with three major US reformed churches. A similar proposal to share clergy with the Episcopal Church, an American church affiliated with the Church of England, was narrowly defeated. Evangelical Lutherans will share communion and clergy with the 2.7-million-member Presbyterian Church (USA), the 400,000-member Reformed Church in America, and the 1.5-million-member United Church of Christ.

Alumni of The Citadel and the Virginia Military Institute revealed plans to raise $100 million for a private, Christian military college for males only. Mike Guthrie, a VMI graduate, said the Southern Military Institute would be an "overtly politically incorrect institution." The Citadel, VMI, and their alumni fought for years to keep women out of the two schools. The struggle ended last year when the Supreme Court struck down VMI's all-male policy. Its first female cadets arrived yesterday. The Citadel in Charleston, S.C., took in one female in 1995 and four last fall.

The threat of fog forced the US space agency to postpone the homecoming of the space shuttle Discovery. The $2 billion reusable spaceship had been scheduled to return to Earth shortly after sunrise yesterday. The landing was rescheduled for early this morning at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

A former Federal Reserve chairman leading a probe of dormant Swiss accounts serves on the board of Nestl along with the heads of three banks he is investigating, Time magazine reported. Lawyers for some Holocaust victims are reportedly questioning Paul Volcker's ties to Nestl. Also some survivors and their heirs have criticized a letter Volcker wrote to a US judge who must decide a class-action suit seeking billions from Swiss banks. Volcker reportedly said in the letter that the lawsuit, filed in New York, would "cripple" efforts to recover victims' assets.

Firefighters gained the upper hand over a wildfire that consumed more than 10,000 acres of forest and threatened the small town of Wrightwood, Calif., about 60 miles east of Los Angeles. The fire was 51 percent contained, a Forest Service spokesman said. He noted that a sprinkler system had been installed and was working well. Helicopters and air tankers continued to drop water on the fire in rugged, mountainous terrain. Some 2,000 firefighters were battling the blaze as it came within two miles of Wrightwood, but no houses were reported lost.

New York City's top police official said he had put all 700 of his internal-affairs investigators on a case of alleged police brutality against a Haitian immigrant. Commissioner Howard Safir also said he would fire any officers who withheld knowledge of the attack, which reportedly took place inside a Brooklyn police station. The alleged sexual assault of Abner Louima has sparked a surge of public outrage against police in New York.

The World

Mir's main computer failed, causing the space station to become disoriented and forcing the crew to shut off its operating systems. The problem occurred during the manual docking of a cargo ship with Mir. Russian and US space officials said they did not consider the situation to bedangerous.

Russian President Yeltsin and Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov agreed to form a joint commission to prepare a treaty defining their ties. After the meeting at the Kremlin, Yeltsin promised to sit down again with Maskhadov if the commission fails to resolve any issues. Chechnya, which seeks independence from Moscow, ended a 20-month war with Russia a year ago by signing a peace accord that gives both sides until 2001 to agree on the region's final status.

Fighting broke out between government and rebel troops in Tajikistan around a bridge 95 miles south of the capital, Dushanbe. President Imomali Rakhmonov's forces have been battling a rebel brigade led by Col. Makhmud Khudoberdiyev, who was dismissed last week after his men refused to hand over their weapons. The government said its troops were trying to prevent the opposition from fleeing to the south, where other rebel units are based.

Israel decided to give Palestinians 30 percent of the tax funds it had frozen after last month's suicide bombing in Jerusalem. A government spokesman said Prime Minister Netanyahu approved the transfer of millions of dollars after the Palestinian Authority provided help with investigations into the attack, and the murder of an Israeli taxi driver in the West Bank.

A relentless advance by troops of Cambodian strongman Hun Sen stalled, as opponents held onto the mine-ringed high ground protecting their last major stronghold. Troops loyal to deposed co-premier Prince Norodom Ranariddh, aided by Khmer Rouge guerrillas, had been pushed back to the village of O'Smach on the Thai border, where some 20,000 soldiers and civilians were trapped. UN convoys were entering the village from Thailand with rice and other necessities for refugees.

Typhoon Winnie, packing winds of up to 92 miles per hour, battered northern Taiwan, killing at least 18 people and causing floods, landslides, and power failures. China issued a storm alert shortly before the typhoon began flooding the streets of Shanghai.

NATO peacekeepers intervened to end a standoff between rival police forces in the Serb-controlled half of Bosnia. Officers opposed to Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic surrounded the Banja Luka police station after her forces entered the building to seize evidence of alleged wiretapping by Plavsic opponents. The two groups reached a settlement after they were surrounded by NATO troops. The standoff was another sign of divisions that threaten to split Bosnia's Serb territory.

A group of Peruvian oil workers, kidnapped on Friday, were released unharmed by Maoist Shining Path guerrillas. Police said the rebels subjected some 30 workers to political speeches and stole equipment from them near the remote jungle town of Satipo in central Peru. Army troops and at least two helicopters continued to search for the rebels after the release.

A defamation case against an opposition lawmaker opened in Singapore. Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and 10 other government leaders are suing Worker's Party leader Joshua Jeyaretnam over the alleged "innuendo" of a statement he made at a campaign rally Jan 1. The case is being watched closely by human-rights groups concerned by reports that the government is using defamation suits to keep opponents quiet.


"In spite of the tens of thousands of lives lost and a fully destroyed republic, we still want to have strong ties with Russia."

- Chechnya President Aslan Maskhadov, after meeting in Moscow with Russian President Yeltsin.

The oft-laughed-at and sometimes-maligned picture of dogs playing cards might have inspired Dan and Marcia Sherry of Barrington, Ill., to invent "My Dog Can Do That!" Their new board game gives players 30 seconds to get their pooches to perform one of 72 tricks. The more compliant the canine, the more the pet owner's game piece can move across the board. The game is designed to give owners a leg up on obedience training.

You may remember our recent item concerning the Gnome Liberation Front allegedly stealing statues in Belgium. Well, the group has apparently struck again, snatching a dozen ceramic dwarfs this month from lawns around Dunkirk, France. The masked thieves reportedly had declared a truce in January after rounding up some 30 gnomes and "freeing" them in nearby forests.

Add Carlos and Lupe Luna of Gary, Ind., to the list of couples that are just meant to be together. That is at least one conclusion that might be drawn after the pair was randomly selected to begin serving jury duty on the same day - although one was called for criminal court, the other for civil cases. A Lake County computer chose the Lunas from a list of nearly 300,000 potential jurors.

The Day's List

Developing Nations That Bought the Most Arms

The US led the world in international weapons sales in 1996 for the sixth consecutive year, taking in $11.3 billion, the Congressional Research Service reports. Britain was a distant second with sales of $4.8 billion, followed by Russia with $4.6 billion. Much of the purchasing was done by some relatively cash-strapped developing countries. The five developing nations that bought the most weapons last year (with their total purchases in billions of US dollars):

1. India $2.5

2. Egypt $2.4

3. Saudi Arabia $1.9

4. South Korea $1.2

5. Indonesia $1.0

- Associated Press

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