News In Brief

The US

Basking in the Northern Ireland peace agreement, President Clinton said it was appropriate the breakthrough came as Christians celebrated Easter and Jews celebrated Passover. Clinton was not only credited with sending former US Sen. George Mitchell to broker the peace accord, but with telephoning some of the key participants in the talks to help overcome last-minute sticking points. Clinton said the parties had chosen "hope" over "hate."

About 60 percent of Americans want to invest some of their Social Security taxes in the stock market - and 80 percent say individuals, not government, should control the investments, a Time-CNN poll of 1,011 adults indicated. GOP leaders in Congress have echoed Clinton's suggestion that budget surpluses be set aside until Social Security is strengthened, but there is no consensus on how to reform the system. The survey's margin of error was plus or minus 3.1 percent.

There were predictions of soaring US budget surpluses as taxpayers approached the April 15 deadline for filing tax returns. Economist Lou Crandall of R.H. Wrightson & Assoc. in New York forecast a $40-billion surplus, well above a Congressional Budget Office projection of $18 billion. The Washington Post, citing internal central-bank reports, said the Federal Reserve is anticipating a $50-billion surplus. Fed officials responded by saying the size of this year's surplus was "highly uncertain."

Disaster aid was arriving in four Southern states in the wake of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. Storms damaged or destroyed more than 2,000 homes in Alabama alone, state and local officials said. Tornadoes reportedly killed 33 people in Alabama, at least nine in Georgia, one in Mississippi, and one in North Carolina. The tornado - with winds exceeding 260 m.p.h. - that hit Jefferson County, Ala., was ranked F-5, the most powerful classification. On average, only one of the 1,000 tornadoes that hit the US each year is F-5, weather experts said.

New rules to halt stock-market trading when prices fall sharply were approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The new curbs, which take effect Wednesday, require trading to halt after drops of 10 percent, 20 percent, and 30 percent in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Currently trading is halted when the Dow industrials fall 350 points, or about 4 percent, and again after a 550-point drop, or about 7 percent. The changes reflect concern that current curbs on trading could aggravate market instability.

Allegations that a conservative foundation may have given financial aid to one of his star witnesses were being pursued by Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr. Brushing aside possible conflicts of interest, the Justice Department said Starr should look into allegations that David Hale received payments and other aid from people working for a foundation that publishes the American Spectator magazine. An Arkansas women has alleged that Hale received the aid while cooperating with Starr's inquiry. American Spectator publisher Terry Eastland said no money was given to Hale.

Immigrants awaiting citizenship protested problems at the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Form 1994 to 1997, the number of citizenship applications reportedly tripled from 500,000 to almost 1.5 million - doubling the backlog of citizenship cases. Press conferences were held in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington.

A computer network that handles data much faster than the Internet will connect a consortium of universities by June, the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California said. The University of California, Stanford University, and the California Institute of Technology are among the state's participating schools.

The World

Sinn Fein leaders Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams urged members of their party and supporters of the Irish Republican Army to give "fair" and "balanced" consideration to the historic peace accord reached Friday with Protestants in Northern Ireland. It would establish a new local government for the province but require close cooperation with the predominantly Catholic Irish Republic. The executive committee of the Ulster Unionists, the province's largest Protestant party, voted 55-23 to support the accord.

A senior member of Hamas has confessed to the murder of leading bombmaker Muhyeen al-Sharif, Israel Radio reported, quoting Palestinian Authority police sources. His death is blamed on an internal power struggle, which the militant Islamic group vehemently denies. Over the weekend, an estimated 5,000 Hamas supporters burned a mockup of an Israeli bus in the West Bank city of Nablus, in a demonstration aimed at reinforcing the group's vow to conduct revenge attacks against Israel, which it blamed for Sharif's death.

Indicted war-crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic isn't ready to surrender to the UN tribunal in The Hague, Bosnian Serb sources said. They rebutted a Washington Post report that Karadzic, who's blamed for some of the worst atrocities of the 3-1/2-year Bosnian civil war, was discussing surrender terms with his more moderate rivals who now hold the leadership of the Serb sub-state. Karadzic reportedly is weary and ill from months of being on the run from pursuers.

South Africa's last hard-line apartheid president, P. W. Botha, is scheduled to go on trial before a black judge tomorrow on contempt-of-court charges. Botha was ruled fit despite claims of ill health. He is accused of ignoring three subpoenas to testify before the country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which investigates atrocities during the apartheid era. Botha did submit more than 1,700 pages of written replies to the commission's questions and accuses it of wanting to humiliate him.

Only 22 of more than 130 human-rights groups operating in Congo (formerly Zaire) were granted "provisional authorization" by the government. The Justice Ministry said those not approved were "working in illegal fashion" and that "severe measures" would be announced shortly. All rights groups were required to register by midnight last Wednesday. Meanwhile, the editor of a Kinshasa newspaper was jailed, apparently for criticizing self-proclaimed President Laurent Kabila in print.

More than 100 people are missing and presumed dead in the collapse of gemstone mines in Tanzania, reports said. Local officials said 14 tanzanite mines caved in under heavy rains. The semiprecious purple stone used in jewelry is mined by traditional methods, with few safety procedures.

Reports from the city of Hardwar, India, said security arrangements were collapsing under the weight of Hindu worshippers arriving for a traditional bathing ritual in the River Ganges. More than 10 million people were expected to overwhelm Hardwar for the Baisakhi harvest festival, which is held in the city once every 12 years. Sixty thousand police and government officials, backed by a system of checkpoints and closed-circuit TV cameras, were sent to ensure order. Clashes erupted between rival sects last month over the order of bathing.


"A lasting peace will become a reality as anger, hatred, and violence are replaced by love and mutual acceptance."

- Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, on the accord between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland.

Columbus, Ohio, resident Lorie Marling knew she owed the Internal Revenue Service some money in back taxes. But even she wasn't prepared for the bill that arrived in the mail last week. It had a dollar sign, a 2, a 7, and then a whole lot of zeroes - 10, in fact. Yes, the IRS wanted $270 billion. But at least it was willing to let her remit the money in three easy installments. "My accountant," she says, "thought I was being asked to pay off the national debt." Ms. Marling inquired whether there mightn't have been some mistake. Yeah, well, OK, so we goofed, the agency admitted, adding: "Now and then an erroneous notice does get through."

The Day's List

The Nation's Largest Women-Owned Firms

Working Woman magazine has published a list of the 500 largest women-owned US businesses. To qualify for the list, which ranks the firms according to revenues, a woman running an enterprise also must be the largest individual shareholder. Those owning or operating companies with annual revenues of at least $1 billion:

1. Pat Moran JM Family Enterprises $5.4

2. Abigail Johnson Fidelity Investments 5.0

3. Martha Ingram Ingram Industries 2.4

4. Marilyn Carlson Carlson Cos. 2.3

5. Marian Ilitch Little Caesar Enterprises 2.1

6. Mary Kay Ash Mary Kay Cosmetics 2.0

7. Joyce Raley Teel Raley's 1.9

8. Katharine Graham Washington Post Co. 1.9

9. Bernice Lavin/Carol Bernick Alberto-Culver Co. 1.8

10. Maggie Magerko 84 Lumber 1.6

11. Lynda Resnick Roll International 1.5

12. Linda Wachner Warnaco Group 1.4

13. Elaine Frank, Frank Consolidated Enterprises1.4

14. Antonia Johnson Axel Johnson Group 1.4

15. Lily Bentas Cumberland Farms 1.1

- Associated Press

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