News In Brief

The US

House GOP leaders reversed position and agreed, under pressure, to allow open debate and a vote by the end of May on overhauling campaign-finance laws. The shift came as a petition that would have circumvented the leadership to bring seven major campaign-finance bills to the floor appeared to be gaining momentum. Last month, GOP leaders used a procedural move to limit debate to four Republican-generated bills and require a two-thirds majority for approval, effectively killing any immediate prospects for comprehensive reform.

Senate agreement to allow Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic to join NATO was virtually assured, a number of senators said in advance of today's scheduled opening of Senate debate on the issue. NATO expansion is to take place in 1999, pending the approval of all current members.

America's largest feminist group decided not to support Paula Jones in her sexual-harassment case against President Clinton. National Organization for Women leader Patricia Ireland said the decision came after an "overwhelming consensus" was reached among NOW members not to work with groups and individuals advancing Jones's cause, who "have a long-standing political interest in undermining our movement."

A US judge set up a second showdown between Susan McDougal and Whitewater special counsel Kenneth Starr by refusing to quash a subpoena directing her to testify before his grand jury in Little Rock, Ark. However, district Judge Susan Webber Wright, who previously put Mrs. McDougal in prison for 18 months for defying an order to testify, made prosecutors vow to ask new questions. They are interested in land developed by her husband, James McDougal, who died in prison last month. Her lawyer said Mrs. McDougal would again refuse to testify.

The years 1997, 1995, and 1990 were the warmest in the Northern Hemisphere since the days of Columbus, a new study indicated. After reconstructing average temperatures back to 1400, scientists said they found that either 1997 or 1995 could be considered the warmest, depending on whether one considers temperatures over land or at the ocean surface. They also found evidence that rising levels of greenhouse gases were probably responsible. The findings are presented in the current issue of the journal Nature.

Emissions of heat-trapping carbon gases will climb 32 percent above 1990 levels in the next 12 years, even if industrialized countries meet goals of a tentative treaty to fight global warming, the Energy Information Administration said. On the other hand, if the treaty agreed to in December in Kyoto, Japan, is not implemented, carbon emissions are likely to jump 44 percent above 1990 levels by 2010. Demand for oil is expected to rise an average 2 percent a year for the next two decades.

One in 16 US medical doctors has helped at least one patient commit suicide, a report in the New England Journal of Medicine indicated. The results of a survey directed by a doctor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York suggested that, if physician-assisted suicide were legalized, many doctors would be willing to engage in it. About 2,000 doctors responded to the questionnaire.

US cities and towns remain vulnerable to chemical and biological terrorism despite recent efforts to improve protections, Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis Freeh said. They were testifying before a joint hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a Judiciary subcommittee.

A federal inquiry cleared officials of Walt Disney World in the deaths of a dozen animals at Disney's new Animal Kingdom theme park in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Agriculture Department said it found no violations of the Animal Welfare Act in a three-week investigation.

The World

Ethnic Albanians boycotted a referendum in Serbia on whether to accept foreign mediation in the dispute over independence for the troubled province of Kosovo. An overwhelming "no" was expected from the Serbs who voted on the nonbinding measure, although early turn-out at the polls appeared to be low. Yugoslavia faces economic sanctions if it fails to negotiate a deal with Kosovo Albanians.

Thousands of young Jews and survivors of World War II Nazi extermination efforts followed Israeli Prime Minister Netanya-hu in an annual march in Poland to commemorate those who died in the Holocaust. The march, from Auschwitz to Birkenau, coincided with Remembrance Day in Israel, in which the nation paused for two minutes of silence. Next week, Israel celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Last-minute diplomacy was employed by Russian President Yeltsin in lobbying parliament to approve his nominee for prime minister. Yeltsin met with the leaders of both houses, send a letter urging confirmation to all 450 members of the Communist-dominated lower house, and telephoned Communist Party chief Gennady Zyuganov. Communists have twice led the fight to defeat Sergei Kiriyenko on grounds that he's too young and inexperienced. The final vote is scheduled for today.

At British Prime Minister Blair's request, Protestants in Northern Ireland agreed to delay an announcement on when and where they planned to stage this summer's parades. The marches, a constant source of irritation to Catholics, are especially sensitive this year as the two sides await the outcome of a May 22 referendum on the newly agreed-upon peace deal for the province. Meanwhile, Protestants reacted angrily to word that five Irish Republican Army prisoners would be transferred to jails in the Irish Republic.

China opened semiofficial discussions with visiting Taiwanese negotiators in Beijing by accusing the island of using the Asian financial crisis for political purposes. Taiwan had proposed to serve as co-host of a regional conference to discuss solutions to the crisis. The first talks between the two sides in almost three years did, however, produce an agreement that Taiwan's top negotiator could visit China later this year.

Voters in the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt are expected to hand Chancellor Helmut Kohl's Christian Democratic Union a resounding defeat in Sunday's election. It would be the third such outcome in a state election in less than a month in what analysts say is a preview of September's national vote. After Saxony-Anhalt, only one other state election remains before Kohl faces Social Democratic Party rival Gerhard Schoeder in a bid for reelection.

Dolly, the world's first cloned sheep, has, in turn, produced her first offspring, scientists in Edinburgh, Scotland, said. The lamb is also a female. Dolly herself was born in July 1996, but the announcement was delayed seven months.

Violent tropical storms swept southern and central Bangla-desh, killing at least 33 people, flattening houses, and destroying thousands of acres of rice fields. Relief officials said 115 people were hurt and at least 10,000 others were homeless. The storms closed roads to and from Chittagong, the main port and No. 2 city.

Ex-Prime Minister Constantine Caramanlis, who died in Athens, was Greece's most revered statesman. He was credited with leading the country out of postwar ruin, helping to restore democracy in 1974 after years of military rule, and cementing economic ties with the rest of Europe.


"I'm not surprised that 5 or 6 percent of American doctors have assisted in suicide. The real surprise is that number ... admitting it."

- Tufts University ethicist Norm Daniels, on a new survey published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

In Canada, the seat of political power is Ottawa, the capital, right? Not to Stephan Tremblay. A lawmaker from Quebec, he symbolically picked up his chair from the House of Commons, carried it out of Parliament , loaded it into a van, and drove home to his district. Tremblay said he wanted to demonstrate that the chair belongs to his constituents, not to powerful interest groups - and that he wasn't sitting down on the job.

Israeli police, who bow to no one when it comes to their zeal in enforcing the law, were nevertheless doing a lot of bending from the waist earlier this week. They were yanking out dozens of marijuana plants that someone had brazenly interspersed among the flowers in a traffic island on a busy Jerusalem street.

The Day's List

World's Most Convenient Airport: It's Singapore

Smaller airports generally win the highest ratings from passengers for convenience, according to a new survey published by the journal Airports World. The following are the highest-rated airports regardless of passenger loads and those ranked at the top despite the heaviest traffic:

All Airports


Helsinki, Finland

Manchester, England

Melbourne, Australia


25 Million or More Passengers a Year


Orlando, Fla.



Minneapolis-St. Paul

- Reuters

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