News In Brief

The US

The budget President Clinton sent Congress features new spending and new taxes, to be paid for in large part by tobacco legislation. It calls for $12.9 billion of increased tax revenues next year and $81.5 billion over five years - while cutting individual income taxes and raising corporate income taxes. The White House said $65.5 billion would be raised from the tobacco industry and its products over five years, including a new $1.50-a-pack tax on cigarettes.

Americans overwhelmingly support air strikes against Iraq and dismiss suggestions that Clinton is considering them to divert attention from sexual misconduct allegations, a Los Angeles Times survey indicated. Seventy-one percent of those polled support a military strike if UN inspectors are denied access to possible weapons sites. Twenty-two percent disapprove of such an attack. Only 16 percent said they think the president is using the possibility of a strike to deflect attention from an inquiry into his relationship with a former White House intern.

House Speaker Newt Gingrich raised the prospect of going beyond air strikes against Iraq if UN inspectors fail to gain full access to suspected weapons sites. At a conference in Davos, Switzerland, Gingrich said the US could "not afford" to stop at a bombing campaign that does not prevent Iraq from making such weapons. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Albright indicated a strike might be "weeks" away. "It's not days and it's not months, so that leaves weeks," she said in an interview from Kuwait broadcast on CNN.

Personal income rose 5.8 percent in 1997- but Americans saved at the lowest rate since 1939, the Commerce Department said. One reason: Tax and fee payments to government shot up 11.4 percent. That meant that after-tax income rose just 5 percent, somewhat slower than spending, which increased 5.4 percent. Officials theorized that some families felt less need to save because of stock market gains. The savings rate in 1996 was 4.3 percent.

A statement calling the elimination of nuclear weapons "a moral imperative" has been signed by 117 prominent individuals from 46 nations, The Washington Post reported. Among them: former President Jimmy Carter and ex-Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev, former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, former French Prime Minister Michel Rocard, and former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. The statement advocates storing all warheads away from launchers, halting production of nuclear-weapons materials, and starting new US-Russian talks to cut arsenals.

Monica Lewinsky's attorney, William Ginsburg, shuttled among five TV talk shows, defending his client as a "very reliable young lady" and predicting the controversy over her allegations against the president would soon blow over. Clinton advisers stayed off the talk shows, apparently content with his favorable opinion-poll numbers.

A $500 million plan to improve the education of Hispanics was to be unveiled by Vice President Al Gore and Education Secretary Richard Riley. Included in the proposal are $393 million for programs that seek to improve the reading and math skills of disadvantaged students; $66 million over five years to train 20,000 instructors to more effectively teach English to Hispanics; $30 million to reform failing schools, with an emphasis on those with high dropout rates; and $69 million for programs that help to prepare disadvantaged students for college.

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles denied condemned killer Karla Faye Tucker's request to commute her death sentence to life in prison. The decision was to be passed on to Gov. George Bush (R), who could let it stand or order a 30-day stay and ask that the case be reconsidered. Tucker was to be executed today -- the first woman put to death in Texas since the Civil War.

The World

Secretary of State Albright arrived in Saudi Arabia for discussions on the Iraq standoff as senior officials there were refusing to allow Saudi soil to be used for military strikes. Albright did win Kuwait's backing for armed action, if necessary, to force Iraqi compliance with UN weapons inspections. She also was scheduled to visit Bahrain and Egypt before returning to Washington.

Jordan also said its air space and soil could not be used for US-led attacks on Iraq. Turkey issued similar sentiments, although Gen. Joseph Ralston, vice chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff , said no request had been made for the use of Turkish facilities. Meanwhile, Portugal said it endorsed military strikes, and Sweden and Slovenia reportedly agreed to lend their support. All are nonpermanent members of the UN Security Council. Argentina said it was ready to "accompany any military intervention" in the Gulf.

Russia's Boris Yeltsin telephoned President Clinton with news that Iraq was prepared to open eight off-limits sites to weapons inspectors, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported. But Iraq would insist that the inspectors go as representatives of their respective governments and not the UN. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein also was ready for meetings with UN inspection chief Richard Butler, the report said. In Washington, US Defense Secretary William Cohen referred to the Iraqi proposals as "not a solution."

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan proposed - and the US said it supported - allowing Iraq to more than double oil sales for humanitarian purposes over the next six months. The proposal would allow Iraq to increase its oil-for-food deal with the UN from $2 billion to $5.2 billion. Security Council approval is required before Annan's plan could be implemented. Iraq participates in the program although it has demanded that all UN Gulf war sanctions be lifted.

Despite a handshake between Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi and American Ambassador to the UN Bill Richardson, Iran has not changed its policy toward - and won't hold talks with - the US, a spokesman said. Richardson and Kharrazi met at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. Iranian President Mohamad Khatami, a relative moderate, has called for people-to-people exchanges between the two countries. The US broke diplomatic ties with Iran in 1980.

All major Asian financial markets resumed trading after the Lunar New Year on an up note. Stocks and currencies registered strong gains or at least held to earlier levels, which analysts said was due to new investor confidence inspired by two factors: Indonesia's announcement last week of tough economic reforms and the restructuring of South Korea's short-term debt. Hong Kong's Hang Seng and Indonesia's main stock index led all financial indicators, closing up 14.3 and 14 percent, respectively.

Algeria's parliament voted to take up the issue of internal security, following reports that at least 12 more civilians had died over the weekend at the hands of suspected Muslim insurgents. But without representation by the banned Islamic Salvation Front, progress in halting the violence was regarded as unlikely. Parliament has expressed doubt about the government's claim that it is gaining the upper hand in quelling the violence.

With 60 percent of the ballot counted, opposition candidate Miguel Angel Rodriguez was headed for victory in Costa Rica's presidential election. He held a 46.8 percent to 44.9 percent lead over ruling party rival Jose Miguel Corrales, and the latter had conceded defeat. Analysts said Rodriguez appealed to voters because of Costa Rica's struggling economy.


It's obviously a nice way to start. Very auspicious."

- Hong Kong financial analyst Steven Thompson, on strong gains posted by Asian stock markets in the first session of the Lunar New Year.

In Rantoul, Ill., police sped to the scene of a possible break-in after a caller reported suspicious movement inside a drug store that was closed for the night. The cops moved in to corner the intruders, only to find . . . a pair of large dogs. They'd stepped on the automatic door mat, and, when the portal swung open, trotted inside. No word on what happened to the employee who went home without locking up.

A Girl and Boy in rural Glover, Vt., have reason to be pleased now that the state Department of Agriculture has reversed its ban on selling beef bones not yet labeled as fit for human consumption. You see, Girl and Boy are Bethany Knight's pet dogs, and she had been bringing the bones home from a local store for them to gnaw on.

If negotiations currently under way in Germany prove successful, the pitchmen for the new Volkswagen Beetle will be . . . the Beatles. In explaining its reasoning, VW said the surviving members of the British rock band had "cult status" and the Beetle was a cult car. The company's marketing strategy is to be unveiled next Wednesday.

The Day's List

IBM Repeats as Winner Of Most US Patents

For the fifth straight year, IBM received more US utility patents in 1997 than any other nonfederal organization, according to the US Patent and Trademark Office. Utility patents protect new technologies for 20 years. The agency received in excess of 210,000 patent applications last year, of which more than 120,000 were honored. Its top 10 patent-winners for '97 and the number each received:

1. IBM 1,724

2. Canon 1,381

3. NEC Corp. 1,095

4. Motorola 1,058

5. US government 935

6. Fujitsu 903

(tie) Hitachi 903

8. Mitsubishi 892

9. Toshiba 862

10. Sony 859

- Price's List of Lists

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