News In Brief

The US

Congressional leaders from both parties expressed support for prompt military action to force Iraqi compliance with UN weapons inspectors. Speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press," the House and Senate leaders were responding to a White House accusation that Iraq blatantly is disregarding the UN Security Council by turning away three American members of an inspection team early Sunday.

Chinese President Jiang Ze-min was to head home today after meetings with political and business leaders in Los Angeles. Earlier, he was heckled by about 5,000 protesters while speaking at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. He surprised the audience with a response to a question on why he won't have an open dialogue with the Chinese people by saying: "There are ... mistakes in our work."

China denounced the administration's appointment of a special coordinator for Tibet affairs as an "unacceptable" intervention in its internal affairs. Gregory Craig was appointed to the post to promote dialogue between the Beijing government and Dalai Lama and to help preserve Tibetan culture.

The trial of Oklahoma bombing suspect Terry Nichols was scheduled to begin today in a Denver courtroom. Nichols is charged with the same 11 counts of murder and conspiracy as his alleged partner, Timothy McVeigh.

Amtrak and its unionized track-maintenance workers reached agreement after marathon negotiations. The agreement between the passenger-rail service and Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees averted a strike that could have disrupted commuter services in the Northeast and on national routes.

Democratic donors forked over $50,000 each to spend the weekend hobnobbing with President Clinton and Vice President Gore on Florida's Amelia Island. The retreat was designed by the Democratic National Committee to help retire its $15 million debt from the 1996 elections. It was expected to raise about 2.5 million.

The Associated Press reported it had obtained internal documents offering a picture of closely coordinated secrecy by persons and groups helping GOP candidates in last year's election. Citing evidence uncovered by Senate investigators, it said political consultants, wealthy conservatives, and nonprofit, issue-oriented groups such as Americans for Tax Reform contributed time and millions of dollars to counter a similar - but public - effort on behalf of Democrats by the AFL-CIO. Senate hearings on campaign-finance abuse were suspended late last week by chairman Fred Thompson (R) of Tennessee.

Clinton canceled 10 projects totaling $20.2 million with his line-item veto authority. He struck down seven projects, involving $14 million, from an appropriations bill funding the Veterans Affairs Department and $6.2 million in funding for three projects in the Transportation Department appropriations measure. Using the new powers, he has eliminated more than $2 billion to date from appropriation bills.

A six-month extension was granted to Whitewater special investigator Kenneth Starr for his federal grand-jury probe into the Clintons' business dealings. In Little Rock, Ark., US district judge Susan Webber Wright gave the panel until May 7 to examine evidence uncovered in the investigation.

US participation in a multibillion-dollar rescue effort for Indonesia's troubled economy won the cautious support of key Republicans in Congress. The chairmen of both the Senate and House banking committees endorsed the administration's proposed $3 billion backup package, should $23 billion in support from the International Monetary Fund prove insufficient.

The World

Three Americans attempting to enter Iraq as part of a UN weapons-inspection team were "turned away" when their flight landed in Baghdad, diplomatic sources said. Inspectors from other nations were admitted. The incident was the second of its type in four days after Iraq announced last week it no longer would cooperate with Americans assigned to UN inspection teams. Noting that the US had not ruled out a military response, Kuwait joined other Arab states in the region in saying such action would be "unacceptable."

Iraq has secret stocks of a nerve gas that could kill millions of people, Britain's Observer newspaper quoted UN inspectors as saying. One UN team reportedly was on the verge of uncovering a nerve-gas agent known as VX when Iraq ordered American inspectors out of the country.

Russian President Yeltsin and Japanese Prime Minister Hashi-moto pledged to work toward a formal peace treaty by 2000. The two embraced and kissed as they wrapped up an informal summit in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. A territorial dispute over the Kuril Islands has blocked the signing of a treaty formally ending World War II hostilities.

Amid plunging stock prices across Asia, leaders of 15 developing countries arrived in Malaysia for today's opening session of an annual conference on global trade. Host Prime Minister Malathir Mohamud, in a welcoming address, called on delegates to resist or roll back plans to integrate their economies into the international system by lowering tariffs and allowing their currencies to float.

Turkish warships arrived in northern Cyprus for controversial military exercises. The week-long maneuvers come as Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz and his Greek counterpart, Costas Simitis, were expected to meet today in Greece to discuss the disputed island. Cyprus has been divided since Turkey invaded the northern third of the island in 1974.

A nationwide trucking strike loomed in France after union members and the country's largest group of commercial haulers both rejected tentative contract terms. Blockades already were in place around fuel depots in most major cities and truck drivers were rolling toward planned roadblocks at border crossings into Spain and Belgium. A similar strike last year disrupted truck traffic throughout Europe.

Algeria's Interior Ministry warned opposition parties of possible prosecution if they held more unauthorized street marches. Without seeking the government's approval, thousands of Algerians demonstrated last week to protest alleged fraud in last month's local elections. Six opposition parties said they were suspending their participation in local councils to protest the vote, overwhelmingly won by parties loyal to President Liamine Zeroual.

Brazil's first attempt at launching a rocket into space ended 65 seconds after liftoff when one of its four motors failed, officials said. The 65-foot Satellite Launch Vehicle was destroyed as a precautionary measure, with fragments of the craft falling into the Atlantic Ocean. Only eight countries are capable of propelling rockets into space.

Floods caused by overflowing rivers in eastern Ethiopia have left 57 people dead and more than 4,000 homeless, state-run radio said. Heavy rains and severe flooding also were reported in parts of Somalia, Sudan, and Kenya. Experts say the worldwide climate disruption known as El Nino likely is to blame for the unusually heavy rainfall.

"The only thing that appears to be 'open, transparent, and accessible'

is President Clinton - for $50,000."

- Ellen Miller of the nonpartisan group Public Campaign, on the admission fee to a Democratic fund-raiser in Florida.


In Honolulu, people pilfer Rob Krakan's pet parrot at their peril. Twice now, bird-nappers have made off with Kaipo while Krakan was away - the second time just last month. In each case, Kaipo has talked his way to safety. How? By answering back from inside the captor's residence as Krakan walked through the neighborhood calling his name. The capers have resulted in three arrests.

But responses to a call in Norway produced quite a different outcome. It seems an acquaintance, trying to phone Oslo resident Unni Andersen, heard her receiver coming off its base and then only grunting noises. Thinking something might be amiss, the caller summoned an ambulance. But Andersen's door was locked. So the ambulance crew radioed for police and a fire brigade. The door was forced open to reveal the phone and . . . her small pet dog.

The late director Alfred Hitchcock, famous for making cameo appearances in his own films, gets a more major gig in the US Postal Service's "Legends of Hollywood" series. He'll be on a 32-cent stamp to go on sale next year.

The Day's List

Rock 'n' Roll Is Here to Pay - for British Artists

Dating back to the Beatles, British pop-music stars have wowed world audiences - and amassed huge personal fortunes in the process. The richest, says London's Business Age magazine, is David Bowie. The magazine examined record sales and other earnings of major performers over the past 35 years. Britain's pop top 10 (with wealth in millions of US dollars):

1. David Bowie $917

2. Sir Paul McCartney 868

3. Tom Jones 459

4. Phil Collins 367

5. Elton John 333

6. Mick Jagger 225

7. Eric Clapton 200

8. George Harrison 175

9. Gordon Sumner (Sting) 161

10. Keith Richards 160

- Reuters

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