News In Brief
Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Turkey were as crucial to the Nazi war effort as Switzerland, US officials said on release of a final report on gold looted from Holocaust victims. Switzerland was the "financial facilitator" said Undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstat, but Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Turkey "played an equally critical role."
President Clinton was to ask Congress for renewal of China's status as a full trading ally no later than today. Even supporters said controversy over satellites and campaign donations would make the case for China more difficult. Most-favored-nation status, which would guarantee Chinese businesses the best possible export-import terms, is routinely bestowed on most trading partners.
Clinton abruptly abandoned his executive-privilege claim in the Monica Lewinsky case in a move that may complicate efforts of the independent counsel to speed up the probe. With its executive-privilege claim dropped, the White House said there was no reason for the Supreme Court to quickly resolve a dispute about the testimony of presidential aides. Clinton lawyers said a remaining issue of attorney-client privilege should be handled by an appeals court.
The Justice Department will appeal a ruling that Clinton's Secret Service guards must testify in the Lewinsky probe, lawyers close to the case said. In a decision approved by Attorney General Janet Reno, department lawyers reportedly filed a brief notice of intent to appeal last month's ruling by a federal judge that Secret Service officers must testify about what they saw or heard.
The space shuttle Discovery was cleared for its last flight to the deteriorating Russian space station Mir. To the relief of US space officials, Mir's automatic thrusters finally restarted, ending three days of rudderless drifting around Earth. US officials did not want Discovery to try docking with a wobbly Mir.
New home sales jumped 5.2 percent to a new record in April, propelled by a home-buying spree in the South, the Commerce Department reported. Sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 888,000, the most since the government began tracking them in 1963. That beat the old record, a rate of 881,000 set in February. April marks the eighth consecutive month of sales above 800,000, the longest such period on record.
Clinton signed off on a three-year US quota on imported wheat gluten in an effort to end a deluge of imports that has hurt American producers. The president urged Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky and Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman to begin talks on subsidies and high tariffs that have helped the European Union capture 30 percent of the US market for wheat gluten, a powder used in bakery products and animal feed.
Clinton was to push for use of statistical sampling in the 2000 US census during a visit to Houston. The city has joined in a lawsuit demanding improved census procedures. It contends nearly 67,000 of its residents, many of them Hispanic, were not accounted for in the last census. In Texas, an estimated 482,000 people were missed by 1990 census-takers. Opponents of sampling say it invites political manipulation.
A Philadelphia transit strike posed some embarrassment for the city as Mayor Ed Rendell played host to a Republican Party committee examining the city's bid to host the GOP national convention in 2000. City officials opened Veterans Stadium lots for free commuter parking, rerouted downtown traffic, and put extra police on the street. Some 5,200 union members left their transit jobs as part of a contract dispute.
Clinton declared a major federal disaster area in two South Dakota counties. The action makes federal aid available to residents of McCook and Day counties affected by recent tornadoes, storms, and floods - including the storm that virtually obliterated the small town of Spencer.
The 1989 Tiananmen Square assault on democracy demonstrators was "a correct conclusion" and won't be reviewed, China's Foreign Ministry said. Security in the square was tight with the approach of tomorrow's ninth anniversary of the crackdown. At least 20 dissidents reportedly have been arrested across China to discourage public commemorations. The ministry also urged President Clinton to grant permanent most-favored-nation trade status, arguing that annual congressional reviews are "impractical." Clinton's yearly report on China is due this week.
Russia's top business leaders were lectured by President Boris Yeltsin on how they should do more to ease the nagging national financial crisis. In a meeting, he scolded them for standing by while the investors in their companies pulled out of the wobbly stock market. Yeltsin also demanded that law-enforcement officials crack down on delinquent taxpayers, whose evasions are at the heart of the crisis. He promised a new strategy by the end of the month to stabilize the economy.
NATO planning for the possible deployment of thousands of troops in Albania went into high gear as tensions mounted in neighboring Kosovo. Sources said the troops likely would be sent to the border to demonstrate an allied resolve not to permit the Kosovo violence to spiral out of control. No update on the situation there was possible because communications in the volatile province remained cut. But in Pristina, the capital, a UN official said virtually the entire Albanian population of two border villages had fled shelling by Serb forces.
Forty-six member states of the international Conference on Disarmament called on Pakistan and India to renounce their nuclear-weapons programs. The move came before the ambassadors of the two countries were to address the 61-member group in Geneva. The two were seen in a private discussion whose nature wasn't disclosed, but each was considered likely to denounce the other's recent nuclear tests.
Lifting decades of economic sanctions against North Korea by Western nations is the best way to bring hostilities on the divided peninsula to an early end, South Korean President Kim Dae Jung told The New York Times. Kim said he planned to urge a joint session of Congress next week in Washington to substitute a policy of "engagement" - especially increased economic relations - in order to moderate the behavior of the Communist North.
A new crackdown against dissent appeared likely in Zimbab-we as the government closed the state university in Harare indefinitely. Riot police also surrounded a technical college. The moves came after five days of student protests turned violent, raising concerns of a return to the nationwide rioting in January over food-price increases. The students, whose demands include a cleanup of corruption, have warned they could help topple President Robert Mugabe in the same fashion that Indonesian President Suharto was brought down last month.
There can be no third consecutive term for Argentine President Carlos Menem, the National Electoral Court ruled. Menem was elected in 1989 and won a second term three years ago after the Constitution was rewritten to permit him to seek reelection. With a presidential primary approaching in November, his supporters sought an interpretation of the rules that would allow another bid for the office, despite polls in the capital, Buenos Aires, that show voters are tired of his controversial ruling style.
" We're not sleeping on this .... [But] you can't throw military forces at this crisis
without having a clearly thought-out strategy."
- An anonymous NATO official, on plans for a possible intervention to keep the violence in Kosovo from spreading.
Remember the recent public outcry against TV's "Jerry Springer Show"? Now, imagine if its critics had waited to sound off until they heard what happened to Aishah Ahmad. The sixth-grade teacher in the New York borough of Brooklyn was beaten by four girls in her own classroom last week because she wouldn't let them watch the controversial talk show, insisting on an educational program instead. The students were suspended. Ms. Ahmad has not pressed charges but says she never wants "to go back to that kind of environment again."
Happier news, though, from Vidor, Texas, where Pine Forest Elementary School teacher Carol Welborn reported perfect attendance for the 176-day academic year. Not just by one of her fourth-graders, mind you. By all of them. In her 23 years of teaching, no class had done that. In fact, the previous full-class attendance record in the suburban Beaumont school was 50 days. "It just sort of snowballed" she said. "Nobody wanted to be the first to miss."
The Day's List
States Awaiting Trials Against Tobacco Industry
The tobacco industry so far has settled with four states - Texas, Florida, Mississippi, and Minnesota - seeking to recover the costs of treating smoking-related illnesses. The vast array of documents made public in the Minnesota settlement last month is expected to aid similar cases in the future. Eight more states have court dates for suits against tobacco companies later this year or in 1999. The suits of two additional states - Iowa and Michigan - are expected to begin next year, although the dates have not been set. The states with lawsuits already scheduled and the month those trials are set to begin:
Washington September 1998
Oklahoma November 1998
Arizona February 1999
Massachusetts February 1999
Maryland April 1999
Oregon May 1999
New York June 1999
Wisconsin September 1999
- Associated Press