News In Brief

The US

President Clinton was to return from a secluded weekend at Camp David to a White House reeling from the latest allegations of sexual misconduct. Former White House volunteer Kathleen Willey was expected to give a scathing account on "60 Minutes" last night of a meeting with Clinton in 1993. Earlier, 700 pages of documents detailing alleged trysts and efforts to keep them quiet were filed by Paula Jones's lawyers in response to efforts by Robert Bennett, Clinton's lawyer, to have her sex-harassment suit dismissed.

The Pentagon said it would look into allegations that Linda Tripp lied on her security clearance form by failing to disclose that she had been arrested in 1969. Tripp's lawyer confirmed his client was arrested but said the charges were dropped because she was innocent. The incident involved a stolen watch and $263. Tripp is the Pentagon staffer who surreptitiously recorded conversations with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky about an alleged affair with Clinton.

A military jury in Fort Belvoir, Va., returns to court today to sentence Sgt. Maj. Gene McKinney on one charge of obstruction of justice. The jury cleared McKinney of 18 sexual misconduct charges made against him by six military women. He faces a maximum of five years in prison, plus dishonorable discharge or reduction in rank, for urging one women to lie.

Residents of Georgia began cleaning up after floodwaters that left 11,000 people homeless began receding. Earlier, the Flint River crested at 37 feet above flood stage in Albany, Ga., about 250 miles south of Atlanta. Clinton added four more Georgia counties to a list of federal disaster areas, bringing the total to 10. Elsewhere in Georgia, farmers tallied their losses after a three-day cold snap wiped out blueberry, peach, and strawberry yields.

The Senate Budget Committee is scheduled tomorrow to consider a budget plan for fiscal 1999. Republicans are expected to argue that tax cuts should be larger than those proposed by Clinton. Senate GOP leaders are pushing for a full Senate vote by the Easter recess. Earlier, the Senate voted 93 to 0 to declare Iraqi President Saddam Hussein an international war criminal and to urge creation of a UN tribunal to indict, arrest, and try him.

Speaker Newt Gingrich detailed a House Republican plan to increase highway and mass-transit funding that uses an existing highway fund to pay down the national debt.. Earlier, the Senate approved the massive Intermodal Surface Transportation and Equity Act for spending on road and transit projects. The bill contains a 42 percent increase over a comparable six-year authorization that expired last fall.

Thai Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai headed home with the promise of $1.7 billion in US aid after a four-day visit. Clinton excused Bangkok from obligations to buy eight US military jets during a meeting with Chuan in the Oval Office. The president also praised Thailand as a model for the rest of Asia to follow as the region struggles with a financial crisis.

Falling energy prices sent wholesale prices down in February for the fourth straight month, the Labor Department said. The producer price index eased 0.1 percent after sliding 0.7 percent in January.

An asteroid headed toward Earth will miss the planet by 600,000 miles, NASA said. It made the announcement after the International Astronomical Union said it would pass very close to Earth and could conceivably hit it in 2028.

US Congressman Joseph Kennedy (D) of Massachusetts announced he won't run for reelection. He plans to leave politics to run the nonprofit Citizens Energy Corp. formerly headed by his late brother, Michael.

The World

Israeli security forces increased their presence in major cities after days of violent disturbances in the West Bank and a pair of weekend bombings that wounded four Palestinians and an Israeli. No group claimed responsibility for either blast. Violence has flared since early last week, when Israeli soldiers shot dead three Palestinian workers at a military checkpoint in the West Bank in what Israel termed a "tragic mistake." Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook was to begin a three-day Middle East visit today to try to unblock the stalled peace process.

Lebanese guerrillas attacked Israeli positions in southern Lebanon as civilians flocked to rallies marking 20 years of Israeli occupation.

Serb leaders asked a wide range of ethnic Albanian leaders to join them in talks, hoping to end violence in Kosovo province. The invitation - the third recently by a Serbian government anxious to stave off foreign sanctions - was broader than any since Serbia stripped Kosovo's Albanians of broad autonomy in 1989. It was unclear if the province's ethnic Albanians would agree to join talks, scheduled to begin today. More than 80 people have died as the result of fighting since police moved against Albanian separatists two weeks ago.

Armenians were to vote for a new president today. The front-runners are Soviet-era leader Karen Demirchyan, Prime Minister and acting President Robert Kocharyan, and ex-Prime Minister Vazgen Manukyan. The outcome will affect Armenia's stance in peace talks with oil-rich Azerbaijan. The new president will replace Levon Ter-Petrosyan, who resigned last month under pressure from opponents over concessions he offered to end the conflict with Azerbaijan.

Hindu nationalist leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee was summoned to the president's mansion to be invited to form a government, the president's office said. Vajpayee's Bharatiya Janata Party had earlier received a boost in its effort to form a government when a Tamil regional ally committed its support. Meanwhile, the once-dominant Congress party tapped Sonia Gandhi, the Italian-born widow of assassinated Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi as its new president.

South Korea's biggest-ever amnesty should be followed up by further releases of prisoners, Amnesty International said over the weekend. South Korean President Kim Dae-jung granted a sweeping amnesty to 5.5 million people, ranging from political prisoners to drivers who had lost their licenses. The pardons followed calls by human-rights groups for release of scores of prisoners of conscience, some unaffected by the amnesty.

A leader of Brazil's Yanomami Indians appealed for help as huge fires advanced into the tribe's rainforest reservation. Fires set by subsistence farmers to clear land have raged out of control for two months in the savanna highlands of Roraima, destroying 1.24 million acres. Now the flames are reportedly eating into jungles normally too humid to burn. There has been no rain in Roraima for five months.

International mediators in Bosnia again postponed a ruling on who will control the strategic town of Brcko, avoiding a decision that would have enraged either Serbs or Muslims and Croats and risked new violence. They said a decision will be made sometime after Bosnian general elections, scheduled for September. It was the second time the ruling on Brcko, the only territorial question in Bosnia left undecided by the Dayton peace agreement, had been postponed.


"I may even say that this agreement is almost uttering its last breath."

- Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, on the state of the 1993 peace agreement forged with Israel in Oslo.

True story: Two competing contractors submitted identical low bids of $6,986 million to build a two-story addition to North Gwinnett High School in Lawrenceville, Ga., near Atlanta. School officials and the contractors decided the only fair way to decide which one got the job was to flip a coin. But which of them should call the coin flip? To decide, they agreed to a roll of the dice. Three times, that also resulted in a tie. On the fourth try the tie was broken - only to have the winner call the coin flip wrong and lose in the end.

If you'll be driving across Portugal next week, better arrange your trip so you don't arrive at the brand-new Vasco da Gama bridge in Lisbon on Sunday. To celebrate its opening, organizers plan to set a table for 15,000 people - using three of the span's 11 miles. On the menu: 6,750 tons of feijoada, a stew of beans, onions, and assort-ed meats. Yes, the event will be submitted for consideration to the Guinness Book of World Records.

The Day's List

Big Names Compete for Richest Fiction Award

Some well-known authors are competing for Ireland's IMPAC award, the world's richest prize for a single work of fiction. Nominations came from public libraries in 39 countries. The winner, to be announced May 18, stands to receive $137,000 The nominees and their books:

Margaret Atwood, Canada "Alias Grace"

Andre Brink, South Africa "Imaginings of Sand"

David Dabydeen, Guyana "The Counting House"

David Foster, Australia "The Glade Within the Grove"

Jamaica Kincaid, US "Autobiography of My Mother"

Earl Lovelace, Trinidad "Salt"

Herta Mueller, Romania "The Land of Green Plums"

Lawrence Norfolk, Britain "The Pope's Rhinoceros"

Graham Swift, Britain "Last Orders"

Guy Vanderhaeghe, Canada "The Englishman's Boy"

- Associated Press

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