News In Brief

The US

US Sen. Arlen Specter (R) of Pennsylvania said Congress should not start impeachment proceedings against President Clinton unless it has clear-cut evidence of criminal wrongdoing. Appearing on Fox TV, he also criticized Senate majority leader Trent Lott's suggestion that Congress might censure the president if prosecutors cannot find incriminating evidence. "I don't think the Congress is in the business of censuring the president," a move that would have no legal ramifications, Specter said.

Whitewater investigators lost what was apparently a key witness in their ongoing investigation. James McDougal, who died in prison in Fort Worth, Texas, had provided them with details of the Clintons' alleged role in fraudulent loan and real-estate deals in Arkansas. McDougal was convicted of fraud and conspiracy in 1996, but made a deal with prosecutors for a reduced sentence.

The US has offered Russia an opportunity to expand launches of foreign satellites if it will crack down on sales of missile technology to Iran, a senior official said. The official, who declined to be identified, said such launches could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Russian firms and their foreign partners. He said the issue of Russian missile cooperation with Iran was likely to come up in Washington meetings this week between Vice President Al Gore and Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin.

Florida's Dade County lost a US Supreme Court appeal aimed at reviving an affirmative-action program to award construction contracts to black-owned companies. The court, without comment, turned away arguments that discrimination in the local construction industry was severe enough to justify a remedy. The court, which has strictly limited set-aside programs since 1989, also rejected an appeal by a minority-contractors' group that sought similar programs for firms owned by Hispanics and females.

A creek swollen by rain burst through a levee, flooding Elba, Ala., and forcing about 2,000 people from their homes. Water closed many roads across southern Alabama, and officials warned of more flooding for a couple of days. Gov. Fob James (D) declared a state of emergency in the southern half of the state. Five deaths were blamed on the weather.

Aluminum Co. of America (Alcoa) said it would acquire rival Alumax Inc. in a cash-and-stock deal worth $3.8 billion, bolstering Alcoa's position as the world's biggest aluminum producer. The transaction would give the combined companies about 100,000 employees in 30 countries with estimated 1998 revenues of $17 billion. Alcoa said it would initiate the deal Friday. It will require the approval of regulators and of Alumax stockholders.

US machine-tool demand fell in January from the previous month, but was still up from a year ago, two industry groups said. The American Machine Tool Distributors' Association and the Association for Manufacturing Technology said January machine-tool demand fell 16.6 percent, to an estimated $656.42 million from $787.43 million in December. But the January figure was up 12.4 percent from $583.81 million a year earlier, in January 1997.

Former Green Bay Packers football great Ray Nitschke, who died in Florida, was a cornerstone of National Football League championship teams of the 1960s. A linebacker inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1978, Nitschke was one of the game's first stars to play strictly defense.

The World

Russia dissented from an action plan to force Yugoslav President Milosevic to halt a crackdown against ethnic Albanians in the province of Kosovo. In London, the foreign ministers of Britain, Italy, the US, France, and Germany, approved an immediate ban on arms sales and export credits to Yugoslavia, a freeze on all government assets by the end of the month, and other measures unless the campaign ends. In the province's capital, Pristina, tens of thousands of Albanians staged the largest protest to date against the crackdown. In Brussels, NATO is expected to hold an emergency meeting tomorrow on the Kosovo crisis.

Sweeping emergency powers were being readied for Indonesia's President Suharto to use in cracking down on civil unrest as he prepared to accept another five-year term today. The National Assembly granted Suharto similar powers in the 1970s, but he allowed them to lapse. Thousands of students in Jakarta, Yogyakarta, and other cities have ignored a ban on protests to demonstrate against his return for a seventh term as the nation's economic crisis deepens.

Colombian President Ernesto Samper's Liberal Party lost seats in both houses of Congress, but remained firmly in power after last weekend's election. Opposition leaders claimed inroads had been made into the notoriously corrupt legislature, but fewer than 10 percent of the candidates were from outside the country's traditional political class, observers said. Many legislators won reelection despite their association with the drug trade.

Full military ceremonies are scheduled today in Santiago, Chile, for the retirement of commander in chief and former dictator Augusto Pinochet. At the same time, demonstrations by leftists and organizations that bore the brunt of his repressive 17-year rule are expected to peak against his plan to accept a permanent seat in Chile's Senate. Protesters planned to form a human chain around the building to prevent him from entering.

Police were back in force on the streets of Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, using shotguns and clubs to break up a demonstration by students demanding more generous aid grants from the government. The protest followed two days of strikes last week against tax increases and a series of food riots in January in which six people died. President Robert Mugabe has refused to step down over the unrest, which he calls part of a plot to oust him.

The leader of India's Congress Party announced his resignation and recommended that the post go to Sonia Gandhi, widow of assassinated Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Sitaram Kesri quit after it became clear that the once-powerful Congress couldn't win enough support from other parties to form a new government after two weeks of national elections. Sonia Gandhi has never run for office but is believed to play an active behind-the-scenes role in party affairs.

Rescue efforts in western Pakistan were hampered by thick mud from last week's flash flooding that left tens of thousands of people homeless. Officials said 300 people died and more than 1,000 were still missing. More rain was predicted for the area this week. Meanwhile, separate terrorist bombs exploded aboard a train 36 miles south of Lahore and in a courthouse 180 miles north of Karachi. At least 10 people died in the two attacks; 48 others were wounded.

More than 400 businesses in Auckland, New Zealand, planned to file a class-action suit against the city's electrical utility as a massive blackout reached its 17th day. Employees worked in short sleeves and bare feet in offices because emergency generators were too weak to run air conditioners. Mercury Energy said it was erecting utility poles to carry a new power cable to the nation's largest city, but the project could take 10 weeks to complete.


"It's ethnic cleansing all over again."

- A remark attributed to Secretary of State Albright at a meeting in London on drawing up plans to punish Yugoslavia for its crackdown against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

Spectators who hung around the Kvitfjell course in Norway last weekend after a World Cup ski race got a bonus - and not the folk music and dancing that usually accompanies such events. Once he had the crowd's attention, down the hill lying on a bed of nails rode self-styled fakir Vidar Svingen, unclothed from the waist up except for a turban on his head. He finished with a few scratches but complained mostly of being cold.

Picture the scene in Mesa, Ariz., as motorcycle policeman Dean Stephan brought in a suspect to be booked for assault. It seems Stephan had come under unprovoked attack from about 20 feet away. Fortunately, he wasn't hit because his dry-cleaning bill probably would have been high if he had. His assailant's weapon: doughnuts, at least one of which was jelly-filled.

The Day's List

Lobby Groups Spending The Most in Washington

Companies, interest groups, and labor unions are apparently budgeting about $100 million a month to lobby the US government. An Associated Press computerized study of disclosure reports indicates spending for the first half of last year totaled $633 million. That includes outlays for full-time lobbyists, offices, research, privately paid travel for policymakers and their staffs, and other legal favors. The top 15 spenders for the first six months of 1997 (in millions):

American Medical Association $8.5

US Chamber of Commerce 7.0

Philip Morris 5.9

General Motors 5.2

Edison Electric Institute 5.0

Pfizer 4.6

United Technologies 4.2

General Electric 4.1

AT&T 4.1

Citicorp 4.1

Christian Coalition 4.0

National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare 4.0

Bell Atlantic 4.0

American Association of Retired Persons 3.7

Northrop Grumman 3.6

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