News In Brief

The US

The Clinton administration endorsed needle-exchange programs for drug users, but refused to fund them. Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala said that although a "meticulous" review had proven that needle-exchange programs can reduce transmission of the HIV virus and save lives without encouraging illegal drug use, a ban on using federal funds for such programs would remain in effect.

Microsoft and Justice Department attorneys were to argue before a federal appeals court in Washington whether a US district judge went too far in prohibiting the company from forcing computermakers who offer Windows 95 software to also offer Microsoft's Internet browser. Justice officials, who are considering a broader antitrust case against Microsoft, contend the company practice of "tieing" Windows 95 to Internet Explorer is anticompetitive and unfair.

White defendants can challenge indictments against them based on alleged discrimination against blacks in the selection of grand juries, the US Supreme Court ruled. The court unanimously allowed a Louisiana man convicted of murder to attack the charges against him on a claim that blacks were prevented from serving as the grand jury foreman. In Louisiana, grand jury foremen are chosen by judges.

A federal court denied appeals seeking to block the execution today in Arizona of a Honduran citizen. Among other things, attorneys for Jos Roberto Villafuerte contended in Phoenix that Arizona should have notified Honduran authorities of his arrest. He would be the second foreign national to be executed in the US this month despite protests by their governments that consular officials had not been contacted as required by the 1963 Vienna Convention.

The Clinton administration has approved plans to beam Farsi-language radio programming into Iran, officials said. The proposal, approved earlier by the International Broadcasting Bureau, would have Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty broadcast two hours of mostly local news daily into Iran starting in September - and increase programming to six hours daily next year. Officials of the Tehran government were already criticizing the proposal, saying it would interfere with efforts to improve US-Iran relations.

A jury in Chicago found that anti-abortion groups had violated US racketeering laws by staging protests at women's clinics. The verdict awarded nearly $86,000 to two such clinics, but could cost the defendants - Operation Rescue, the Pro-Life Action Network, and three anti-abortion activists - millions of dollars more if some 900 clinics seek reimbursement for costs of increased security, plaintiffs said.

Jesse Jackson is considering another run for the White House, his Chicago-based organization said. A spokesman for the Rainbow-PUSH Coalition said Jackson, who made unsuccessful bids for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988, is expected to make a decision on his candidacy in November. He has never held elective office; his son is a Democratic congressman from Illinois.

Whitewater witness David Hale asked a Supreme Court justice to block his trial in Little Rock, Ark., on charges of lying to insurance regulators. In an emergency petition filed with Justice Clarence Thomas, Hale's lawyers said a plea agreement and immunity granted him by Whitewater prosecutors protect him against prosecution in the case. Hale's trial was scheduled to begin today.

The Clinton administration proposed legislation to finance air-traffic control services by means of user fees. Officials said fees levied on airlines starting in 2000 would provide controlers funding exempt from budgetary spending caps.

The World

For the third straight Friday, the lower house of Russia's parliament will consider the confirmation of President Yeltsin's nominee for prime minister, it was decided. Sergei Kiriyenko was rejected by the Communist-dominated Duma in each of the past two weeks on grounds that he's too inexperienced. Speaker Gennady Seleznyov said Yeltsin might personally escort Kiriyenko on courtesy visits to lawmakers as a conciliatory gesture. But Communist leaders again predicted rejection, and analysts said only a secret ballot was likely to enable the nomination to pass.

Saying "we all want to be able to surprise ourselves and the world," Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu pronounced himself ready for a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Arafat May 4 in London. Netanyahu told visiting British counterpart Tony Blair he also thought progress on a troop pullback from the West Bank was possible. Netanyahu and Arafat were summoned to London for separate talks by Secretary of State Albright. But her spokesman said in Washington that "time is running out for ... hard decisions to be made."

In a new blow at the rise of Turkey's Islamic movement, a court sentenced one of its up-and-coming leaders to a prison term for inciting hatred based on religious differences. Istanbul Mayor Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted in a speech as saying, "Minarets are bayonets, domes are helmets; mosques [are] our barracks." If the 10-month sentence is upheld, he would be banned from public office.

Amid low expectations, negotiators for China and Taiwan were to open their first talks since mid-1995 today in Beijing. The session was unlikely to produce more than an "exchange of views," analysts said, although the host's foreign ministry hoped for a discussion of political issues "under the one-China principle." China views Taiwan as a renegade province not entitled to diplomatic contacts with other governments.

The two-week struggle for control of Australia's seaports moved closer to settlement when a federal court ruled that 1,400 unionized dock workers had been fired illegally and must be reinstated. The longshoremen were cited for inefficiency, evicted from terminals in Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, and 14 other cities April 7, and replaced with nonunion labor. They retaliated with blockades, angering shippers. The court granted a 24-hour stay of its order so Patrick Stevedore Co. could appeal.

UN delegates broke into applause after voting to defeat a US resolution criticizing human rights abuses in Cuba. The vote by the Commission on Human Rights was 19 to 16, with 18 abstentions, and means the end of a mandate for UN investigators to look into alleged abuses on the Communist-run island. The defeat, the first of the annual resolution in years, followed the visit to Cuba in January by Pope John Paul II.

The two Libyans suspected of bombing a Pan Am jet over Scotland in 1988 are ready to stand trial under Scottish law, their attorney told lawyers for the victims' families. But he said the trial would be held before a panel of international judges in the Netherlands, not in Britain or the US, which have insisted on being the venue. All 270 people aboard the plane died. Libya has been under UN sanctions since 1992 for failing to extradite the suspects to the US or Britain.

A heavy downpour complicated the work of emergency crews called to the scene of an Air France jet crash moments after takeoff from Bogot, Colombia. The flight was bound for Quito, Ecuador. No survivors were reported among the 53 passengers and crew. Air France said the plane was leased from Ecuador's military airline, TAME.


"It is clear that the reports of peacekeeping's demise - to paraphrase Mark Twain -

are much exaggerated."

- Secretary-General Kofi Annan, reflecting on the UN's conflict-avoidance missions in a speech in San Francisco.

Putting it on an equal footing with Stonehenge, the newest addition to the list of national monuments in Britain may soon be a rabbit warren in Leicestershire. English Heritage, which is recommending its preservation, says the manmade mound probably dates to the late 13th century and would have facilitated the breeding of bunnies for meat and fur. Its significance presumably is lost on the dozen or so wild rabbits that use it now.

Today is Professional Secretaries Day. But before the jokes about bosses not remembering to send flowers start, the administrative staffing group Office Team wants you to know that 61 percent of executives now credit their right-hand - um - persons with having a significant influence on business decisions. And only 18 percent of secretaries admit to having that title anymore; 32 percent are now known as administrative or executive assistants.

In Gurnee, Ill., 23 riders were left upside down for two hours when mechanical problems stranded a roller coaster in midloop during a private party at an amusement park. No injuries, but some were overheard muttering, "Get my lawyer."

The Day's List

Once Again, Southwest Is Rated No. 1 US Airline

For the third year in a row, the Airline Quality Rating, released in Washington, found Southwest the leading commercial carrier, based on such criteria as on-time arrivals and departures, safety, age of planes, baggage handling, passenger complaints, and financial stability. The survey analyzed all US carriers reporting more than $1 billion in annual business. The top 10:

1. Southwest

2. Alaska

3. Continental

4. American

5. United

6. Delta

7. Northwest

8. America West

9. TWA

10. US Airways

- Associated Press

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