News In Brief

Prosecutors have asked President Clinton's lawyers if he is willing to testify before the grand jury investigating a possible coverup of his relationship with a former White House intern, a senior adviser to the president said. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the adviser said White House attorneys had not yet formally responded.

Clinton and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan were to meet at the White House - with UN policy toward Iraq and a US debt to the UN expected to be high on the agenda. The UN's chief financial officer warned that the US was close to losing General Assembly voting rights if it didn't pay $1.3 billion in back dues.

Democrat Lois Capps defeated conservative California GOP Assemblyman Tom Bordonaro in a race for her ex-husband's seat in Congress. With 257 of 356 precincts reporting, Capps - a retired school nurse - had 66,424 votes to Bordonaro's 54,635. Capps is the widow of US Rep. Walter Capps, who died in October. She will serve out the remainder of his term, which ends in January.

Texas Gov. George W. Bush (R) was easily nominated for a second term in what many observers predict will be a practice run for a presidential bid in 2000. Bush received 97 percent of the votes in a party primary election against first-time candidate R.C. Crawford, a highway contractor.

Attorney General Janet Reno delayed a decision on whether an independent counsel should pursue allegations of influence peddling against Labor Secretary Alexis Herman. After Reno said more time was needed to complete an inquiry, a special US court gave her until May 11 to decide if there's enough evidence of wrongdoing to warrant an outside prosecutor. The main issue is whether Herman hid a financial interest in a firm partially owned by a friend. She has denied all allegations.

A US district judge ordered Iran to pay $247 million in damages to the family of an American student killed in the 1995 bombing of an Israeli bus. Alisa Flatow, a New Jersey resident, was killed in a suicide mission in the Palestinian-run Gaza Strip. Her family filed a civil suit in Washington against Iran, saying it should be held responsible for the attack.

Child predators are far more pervasive on the Internet than most parents suspect, and law-enforcement officials need to become more sophisticated to combat them, US officials said. FBI Director Louis Freeh told a Senate panel no one knows how widespread the problem is but parents are too complacent about dangers children can run into on home computers.

The US Senate approved overwhelmingly a six-year, $41.3 billion plan for mass-transit spending. The vote removed a key obstacle to finalizing a $214 billion package for highway and mass-transit systems. Congress is racing to pass the measure before current funds run dry in April.

Bitter cold was forecast as far south as northern Florida, and farmers across the Southeast were watching anxiously to see how it would affect strawberry and peach crops. At least 25 deaths across the Eastern US had been blamed on poor weather since the weekend. Meanwhile, nearly 5,000 people evacuated dwellings in Albany, Ga., as the Flint River rose above flood stage in the southwestern part of the state, following a weekend of heavy rain. The evacuees included nearly all 3,000 students and faculty at Albany State University.

Broadway theater managers were hoping to prevent a shutdown after Musicians' Union officials scheduled a strike vote for Saturday in New York. The musicians are seeking a 12 percent increase in pay over three years, a union spokesman said.

Lloyd Bridges, who died at his Los Angeles home, enjoyed a long film career and starred in the pioneering "Sea Hunt" TV series. He was the father of actors Beau and Jeff Bridges.

The World

As thousands of students protested on college campuses across Indonesia, President Suharto was inaugurated for his seventh term. In Yogyakar-ta, a huge crowd cheered as an effigy of Sukarno was burned at Gadjah Mada University, an act punishable by six years in prison. Most of the demonstrations were peaceful, but in Surabaya, the second-largest city, more than a dozen students were hurt in a clash with police.

Palestinians rioted in three West Bank cities against the shooting deaths of three construction workers by Israeli soldiers at a roadblock. As word of the shootings spread, stones and firebombs were thrown at troops in Hebron, Ramallah, and Dura. The Israelis responded with rubber bullets, and at least 32 rioters were hurt. The violence was the worst on the West Bank in four months.

NATO chief Javier Solana is due in Kosovo today for a first-hand assessment of the ethnic and political unrest that has taken dozens of lives in the Yugoslav province in the past two weeks. European concerns that the violence could spread were deepened by a published Kosovo Liberation Army statement vowing to intensify the fight for independence in the Albanian-dominated province. Meanwhile, the Red Cross said it was evacuating its foreign staffers from Kosovo because they had been subjected to repeated threats against their safety.

Meetings were scheduled in Baghdad between Iraqi leaders and the UN's new disarmament commissioner today and tomorrow to prepare for inspections of the country's so-called "presidential sites." Jayantha Dhanapala, a Sri Lankan, was asked by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to form a team of diplomats who will accompany the UN's experts in their search for suspected chemical and biological weapons.

Former Chilean dictator Augosto Pinochet was sworn in as an unelected - but lifelong - member of the upper house of Congress. Pinochet sat calmly while left-wing legislators held up photographs of people who had disappeared during his 17-year presidency. Outside, police pushed back other protesters who said Pinochet had made a sham of Chilean democracy by rewriting the Constitution himself so he could join the Senate.

Although Denmark's economy is strong and unemployment is low, dissatisfied voters were expected to unseat Social Democratic Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen in yesterday's election. Analysts said he lacks the flair of Liberal Party rival Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, who led in late opinion polls. European leaders watched the election closely to see which man would be in power when Danes go to the polls again in May for a vote on enlarging the European Union.

Saying the country can't wait any longer, President Kim Dae Jung announced immediate implementation of a new law allowing foreign investors to buy up to one-third of the shares in South Korean companies. Koreans have long regarded foreign investment as an attempt to colonize their economy, but the currency and stock prices have lost about half their value in the past year and the government agreed in December to terms for a $57 billion international bailout loan.

A ship carrying 30 tons of reprocessed nuclear waste rode at anchor for a second day off Rokkasho, Japan, as local officials demanded clarification of a pledge by the national government in Tokyo to find a permanent dump site. Activists argue Rokkasho is a dangerous place for storage because it sits on at least two active earthquake faults.

"Now, the stranger isn't outside the house. The stranger can be inside - on the Internet."

- US Sen. Judd Gregg (R) of New Hampshire, on the dangers sexual predators pose to children using home computers.


It's often said these days that coverage of the news gives off an odor. In the case of at least one paper that's literally true. To mark its 15th anniversary, China's Tianjin Youth News perfumed its pages before issuing last Thursday's edition. The move appears to have been a first, but Chinese organizations often send scented invitations to events they sponsor.

They're called the "Steel Force" and they've broken up street demonstrations by union members, Islamic fundamentalists, and Kurdish separatists. But Turkey wants the world to know its riot police have an eclectic side, too. News reports from Ankara say the police will listen to music by Beethoven and Mozart from now on as they're bused into action - to "relax the mind."

Clearly, Israelis feel an unusual bond with their endangered species. When one of the country's last 15 Negev buzzards laid an egg that cracked, a Tel Aviv dentist was enlisted to help. He sealed the fracture with a special glue. Once the egg is returned to the parents' nest it should hatch in 50 days, if all goes well.

The Day's List

Countries With the Most 'Forced Disappearances'

Iraq tops the UN's list of countries with the most "enforced disappearances" - political opponents or others whose affiliations or activities are silenced by arrest, kidnapping, execution, and the like. In its annual report, the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances cites Iraq for almost 165,000 cases - 283 in the past decade. Sri Lanka had the most reported disappearances last year. The leading offenders and the number of new cases reported (in 1997, unless otherwise noted):

1. Iraq 283

(mostly early 1980s and '90s)

2. Sri Lanka 77

3. Algeria 49

(1994 to 1997)

4. Mexico 24

5. Colombia 36

6. Indonesia 30

7. India 28

- Reuters

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
QR Code to News In Brief
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today