News In Brief

The US

A reporter whose magazine article helped spur the Paula Jones sexual-harassment lawsuit apologized to President Clinton, saying enemies of the president were behind the story. David Brock, a freelance journalist whose story appeared in a 1993 issue of American Spectator, said in an open letter to Clinton in Esquire magazine that Arkansas state policemen who maligned Clinton's character were motivated by anger and greed. Brock said he came onto the story of alleged Clinton philandering through a financial backer of GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

A former White House aide who allegedly had a sexual encounter with Clinton arrived at the US courthouse where a grand jury is investigating his ties to Monica Lewinsky. Kathleen Willey was expected to be asked about reports that she was urged to change her account of the alleged incident.

Democratic fund-raiser Johnny Chung was arraigned on charges of making illegal campaign donations, and ordered to return to court next week to enter a plea. His lawyer said the Taiwanese-born businessman will plead guilty to charges that include funneling $20,000 in illegal contributions to the Clinton-Gore reelection campaign and $8,000 to the campaign of US Sen. John Kerry (D) of Massachusetts.

US Rep. Jay Kim was sentenced to two months home detention, a year on probation, and a $5,000 fine for violating campaign-finance laws. The three-term California Republican, the first Korean-American elected to Congress, had faced the possibility of up to three years in prison.

The chairman of the House panel looking into possible campaign fund-raising abuses asked Clinton for help in obtaining information from China. Rep. Dan Burton (R) of Indiana said in a letter that four House investigators had been denied visas for China and were threatened with arrest if they traveled there. He also said the state-owned Bank of China had defied committee subpoenas for records of wire transfers.

US Rep. John Boehner (R) of Ohio filed a civil suit against Rep. Jim McDermott, alleging the Washington Democrat had leaked an illegally obtained tape of a 1996 cell-phone call between House Speaker Gingrich and his top deputies. Boehner, a member of the GOP leadership, asked for unspecified damages in US district court in Washington. A Florida couple who taped the December 1996 call said at the time they turned the tape over to McDermott. A copy was leaked to The New York Times.

The first two months of 1998 were the warmest and wettest on record for the continental US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported. It said the average temperature in January and February was 37.5 degrees F., compared with a normal 32.1. The previous record, set in 1990, was 37 degrees. An average of 6.01 inches of rain fell, beating the record of 5.7, set in 1979. Normally, an average of 4.05 inches falls during January and February. This winter - with December included - did not set a record, officials said.

Clinton declared five Alabama counties major disaster areas in the wake of severe storms and flooding late last week. The action makes federal assistance available to victims in Coffee, Dale, Excambia, Geneva, and Houston counties.

Hundreds of thousands of people in northern Illinois and Indiana were without electricity as temperatures plunged below freezing in the wake of a late-winter snowstorm. Authorities said more than 250,000 customers were without power. Hundreds of repair crews were trying to restore service.

Productivity growth slowed a bit as 1997 ended, the Labor Department said. An estimated fourth-quarter gain of 2 percent that was reported last month was revised down to 1.6 percent - less than half the 3.6 percent spurt of the third quarter. Productivity growth is considered a measure of how quickly living standards can rise.

The World

The main Albanian political party in Kosovo said it would no longer settle for autonomy in the province because only independence from Yugoslavia was acceptable. A spokeswoman for the Democratic League of Kosovo said the Yugoslavia that had guaranteed the province's autonomy in the 1970s no longer existed as a federal state. At least 80 Albanians have died in the past 10 days in a Yugoslav-ordered crackdown against Albanians, who outnumber Serbs in Kosovo by 9 to 1.

Suspicion fell on Catholic dissidents for a series of mortar attacks on a police station in Armagh, Northern Ireland. Exploding shells caused property damage and forced the evacuation of nearby civilians, but no one was hurt. Police said Irish Republican Army members opposed to the latest cease-fire may have been responsible. The attacks came as the IRA's political ally, Sinn Fein, was announcing its leaders would meet with British Prime Minister Blair tomorrow to plan for a return to negotiations on Northern Ireland's future.

In a sign that relations were returning to normal, Jordan's Crown Prince Hassan was to pay his first official visit to Israel since an assassination attempt in Amman last September against a leading Islamic militant. Ties soured after two Israeli agents were caught in a failed effort to kill Hamas chief Khaled Meshal. The incident helped to bring the resignation of Israeli secret service director Danny Yatom.

As expected, Hindu nationalist leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee was invited to form India's next government. The Bharatiya Janata Party leader said he would provide proof today to President K.R. Narayan that he could command enough votes in Parliament to survive a no-confidence vote. Vajpayee previously held the post in 1996, but his government collapsed after only 13 days.

Jubilant crowds in Sierra Leone welcomed the return from exile of President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah. He was ousted last May in a violent rebellion led by Maj. Johnny Paul Koroma and had been living in neighboring Guinea. Koroma, in turn, was defeated by a force of west African peacekeepers last month after fighting that left much of the capital, Freetown, in ruins.

On schedule, former Chilean dictator Augosto Pinochet retired after 24 years as commander of the country's armed forces. Security was heavy outside the National Military School in Santiago, although there was no sign of protest by anti-Pinochet activists, who had threatened to disrupt the elaborate ceremony. Pinochet plans to assume a permanent seat in Chile's Senate today.

For the second day in a row, a bomb exploded aboard a passenger train in Pakistan, killing at least 10 people and injuring more than 80 others. At the time of the blast, the train was approaching a station in Lahore less than a mile from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's private home. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Pakistani officials pinned the blame on neighboring India's secret intelligence agency. Ten people died in an identical explosion Monday 35 miles south of Lahore.

Throwing Paraguay's May 10 presidential election into confusion, a military court sentenced ruling-party candidate Lino Cesar Oveido to 10 years in prison for leading a 1996 coup attempt. Oveido vowed to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court. But if the order is upheld, he will be stripped of his candidacy. The deadline for naming a substitute has passed, and President Juan Carlos Wasmosy is legally barred from running for reelection.


"There is some truth in Hillary Clinton's assertion that the genesis of all this

is right-wing politics."

- Journalist David Brock, apologizing for his 1993 article that triggered the Paula Jones lawsuit against President Clinton.

For a change, the regular instructor was on hand at New York University Law School last Friday morning as discussion in his "Current Constitutional Issues" class turned to executive privilege. Students argued the hypothetical question: Should a national security adviser be compelled to turn over sensitive documents to Congress? The debate avoided whether the question should apply to the president of the United States . . . in deference to Kenneth Starr, an adjunct professor at the school since 1993 who soon may be taking up that very issue before a federal court in his other role: Whitewater special counsel.

Harvey Barton is crying foul over his neighbors' pet, Chanticleer. The Pasca-goula, Miss., attorney filed a disturbing-the-peace complaint because the rooster's crowing can be heard at all times of the day - by clients in his office, on recorded dictations to his secretary, even on the other end of his conference calls. The next cock-a-doodle-doo he wants to hear is the one waking the neighbors for a court appearance, where they'd be ordered to find a new roost for the bird.

The Day's List

How Much Can 'Titanic' Take in Before Sinking?

"Titanic" edged out a newcomer and stayed on top of box-office rankings for a 12th straight week. The epic has earned $444.6 million, trailing only the $461 million collected by "Star Wars" in its original release and re-release. Still, counting admissions and adjusting for inflation, "Gone With the Wind" would have sold $1.29 billion in tickets at current prices, according to Variety, a trade newspaper. Theater grosses for March 6-8 (in millions):

1. "Titanic" $17.6

2. "U.S. Marshals" 16.9

3. "The Wedding Singer"6.2

4. "Twilight" 5.9

5. "Hush" 5.7

6. "The Big Lebowski" 5.5

7. "Good Will Hunting" 5.2

8. "As Good As It Gets" 3.2

9. "Dark City" 2.8

10. "The Borrowers" 2.1

- Exhibitor Relations Inc./APP

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