News In Brief

The US

Senate Republicans unveiled a budget that left some of their own disappointed at the size of tax cuts and Democrats concerned about the use of potential tobacco funds. The plan foresees a $146.5 billion surplus and a $30 billion tax cut over five years. The plan would set the surplus aside until a solution is found for the Social Security program - and would reserve funds from a tobacco settlement for Medicare. Republicans pushing for larger tax cuts want to use tobacco funds to lower taxes; some Democrats want those funds to pay for smoking-related education and health programs.

By a unanimous vote, the House urged the administration to press for a resolution condemning China at this week's meeting of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. Citing some progress in China's human-rights posture, the White House had announced earlier that it would not support this week a resolution condemning China for its human-rights record.

A conservative GOP Illinois legislator defeated a moderate Republican for the right to challenge Democratic US Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun in November. State Comptroller Loleta Didrickson, an abortion-rights supporter backed by much of the GOP establishment, conceded to state Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, who poured $7 million of his family's banking fortune into the GOP primary. In the Democratic race for governor, Glenn Poshard, a five-term congressman, defeat-ed three Chicago attorneys. He will face Secretary of State George Ryan, an easy victor in the GOP primary.

An $18 billion package to fund and reform the International Monetary Fund was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill calls for specific IMF reforms, which Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin deemed "extremely impractical." The package didn't include about $1 billion the administration sought to pay US arrears at the UN.

A publisher who considered a book deal with Clinton accuser Kathleen Willey said he lost interest partly because her TV account of an encounter with the president was "a different story" than the one he heard from her lawyer. Michael Viner, head of New Millennium Entertainment in California, said on ABC TV that Willey's lawyer had approached him earlier, seeking $300,000 for a book that presented her as "a fan, a friend who cared about President Clinton."

A group of California mayors asked Clinton to block a suit against marijuana clubs and suspend enforcement of drug laws that interfere with operation of the clubs. The mayors of San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Cruz, and West Hollywood said in letters that some 11,000 people might otherwise turn to "back alleys" for "their medicine" and "place an unnecessary burden" on police departments. The plea precedes a March 24 hearing in San Francisco on a Justice Department effort to shut down six California marijuana-distribution clubs.

Automakers said they would ask US regulators to make refiners produce gasoline with less of the sulfur associated with damage to catalytic converters. The oil industry said the proposal would force motorists to pay unnecessarily high gasoline prices. The US Environmental Protection Agency is making plans for regulating less-polluting cars, starting in 2004.

Jeff King battled blowing snow and poor visibility to earn his third victory in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska. King, an Alaskan from Denali Park, crossed under the burled arch finish line of the 1,100-mile endurance race with an unofficial time of 9 days, 5 hours, and 52 minutes.

The World

Prime Minister Netanyahu canceled a dinner with Britain's foreign secretary, Robin Cook, and his office said Cook's favoritism toward Palestinians on a tour of Jerusalem earlier this week disqualified the European Union as a mediator in Middle East peace negotiations. Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan began a tour of the region by urging Israelis and Palestinians to accept US mediation efforts in the search for peace.

The US is ready to impose more sanctions against Yugo-slavia if the latter doesn't open dialogue with majority Albanians in Kosovo, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott warned. He accused the Belgrade government of ethnic cleansing in the troubled province and said the viability of the Yugoslav state depended on solving the crisis. As Talbott spoke, thousands of Albanians protested in Kosovo's capital, Pristina, against minority-Serb police tactics.

Hardline Protestant guerrillas said they were behind a failed bombing attempt outside a Catholic social hall in Larne, Northern Ireland. A crowd of St. Patrick's Day partygoers was evacuated as experts rendered the device harmless.

A selloff of state-owned but financially troubled companies was ordered by Indonesian President Suharto as his government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) worked to mend fences. The IMF angered the government by holding up a $3 billion support payment - part of a larger bailout package - pending a review of Indonesia's willingness to implement a series of economic reforms. A source close to the issue said the government had decided the Constitution would allow all but two of the 50 reforms to be carried out.

Speculation grew in Turkey that the government and the country's generals were headed for a new confrontation over Islamic fundamentalism. Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz reportedly ordered commanders back to their bases and called for abolishing a special military unit that monitors Muslim radicalism. But the military-dominated National Security Council is due to meet next week, and relations with Yilmaz have become strained because he tolerates the wearing of Islamic attire at public schools and colleges. Last August, the military forced Turkey's first Muslim prime minister to step down.

This week's presidential election in Armenia fell far short of the standard the government had committed itself to, an international monitoring group said. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said "significant violations" at many polling places would have to be corrected if the March 30 runoff between Prime Minister Robert Kocharyan and runner-up Karen Demirchyan was going to be fair.

A $77 billion economic-stimulus plan due out next week won't include an income-tax cut, a senior Japanese policymaker said. Analysts said the news would disappoint Japanese companies and the US and other international trading partners that had pressed for such a cut. Taku Yamasaki said a key feature of the stimulus plan would be steps to prop up sagging stock prices.

A Cambodian military court found exiled co-Premier Noro-om Ranariddh guilty for the second time this month, sentenc-ed him to 30 years in prison, and fined him $54 million. The penalties were imposed for Ranariddh's alleged alliance with the outlawed Khmer Rouge guerrilla movement and for damage to the capital, Phnom Penh - most of it caused by troops loyal to his rival, Hun Sen, in a coup last July.

Peace negotiators for South Korea were seeking clarification of an offer by rival North Korea for direct dialogue. The North set no conditions except that such talks take place on the divided peninsula and be separate from the four-way discussions that resumed this week in Geneva. The two sides agreed to direct talks in 1994, but North Korean leader Kim Il Sung died shortly before they were to be held.


"This is an administration that says we'll have a ... policy of trade without a conscience."

- US Rep. Linda Smith (R) of Washington, on a White House decision not to support condemnation of China at this week's meeting of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.

The longest lines at California's new $1 billion Getty Museum aren't outside the ticket window or in front of any painting. It seems somebody forgot to equip the Los Angeles art showcase with enough restrooms. There aren't any in the north or south pavilions, and only one set in the west pavilion. Nor are portable facilities the answer; they "wouldn't fit in" to the architecturally grand edifice, which draws as many as 8,000 visitors on weekends.

A "gate" story is making news in Wales, but this one has nothing to do with leading politicians. It all began when the Caerphilly town council ruled only pupils living more than 1-1/2 miles from the local elementary school were entitled to bus transportation. That left Dean Morris's two young sons on foot, since the gate to their front yard was inches inside the limit. So, using a little Welsh ingenuity, dad announced plans to dig up his garden path, lay a new one, and relocate the gate - to 1-1/2 miles plus 9 feet.

The Day's list

Counties Attracting Most New Residents Last Year

Arizona's Maricopa County was the nation's largest population-gainer in 1997 - followed by Los Angeles County and by Clark County, Nev. The top 10 counties (with '97 population growth and the major city in each):

1. Maricopa County, Ariz. (Phoenix) 82,789

2. Los Angeles County, Calif. (Los Angeles) 61,623

3. Clark County, Nev. (Las Vegas) 59,549

4. Orange County, Calif. (Anaheim) 54,733

5. San Diego County, Calif. (San Diego) 45,447

6. Harris County, Texas (Houston) 43,296

7. Riverside County, Calif. (Riverside) 33,113

8. Broward County, Fla.(Fort Lauderdale) 30,216

9. Dallas County, Texas (Dallas) 28,918

10. Collin County, Texas (Plano) 27,991

- Associated Press

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