News In Brief
Signaling that it was digging in for an extended battle with striking auto workers, General Motors asked employees worldwide to cut discretionary spending, The Wall Street Journal reported. It said an internal memo cited overtime, travel, food and beverage services, and the use of outside consultants as categories in which spending should be reduced. At the United Auto Workers convention in Las Vegas, Nev., a senior union official said the strikes, which began June 5, could last "into the third week of August."
Microsoft Inc. won a key round in its fight with the Justice Department when a federal appeals court in Washington overturned an injunction that prevented it from requiring the use of its Internet browser. By a 2-to-1 vote, the panel said a lower court made procedural and substantive errors in holding Microsoft in contempt for breaking a 1995 consent agreement that it wouldn't tie the browser to the use of its Windows 95 operating system. The company still faces a Sept. 8 trial date on charges that it competed unfairly with other software makers.
Unless companies doing business on the Internet better protect the privacy of their customers, the federal government will intervene, Commerce Secretary William Daley told the opening session of a two-day conference in Washington. He did not specify when or what measures might be taken. The Clinton administration has so far hesitated to write tough privacy rules on Internet use, despite critics who say busines-ses are being given too much time to regulate themselves.
Published reports that Iraq packed deadly nerve gas into its Gulf war missiles were confirm-ed by UN diplomatic sources and the Clinton administration. The Washington Post said it learned that samples from warhead fragments gathered by UN inspectors in March and analyzed at the Army's Aberdeen, Md., Proving Ground showed "significant amounts" of the gas, known as VX. Iraq has consistently denied the use of nerve gas.
Restoration of federal food stamps to a quarter-million immigrants who lost them under the welfare-reform effort two years ago was signed into law by President Clinton. It makes children, elderly, and handicapped people eligible for the benefits again, provided they were in the US prior to Aug. 22, 1996, when the welfare-reform law took effect. The change is expected to cost $818 million over five years. Last year, Congress restored Medicaid and other benefits to 420,000 immigrants.
The airline industry's struggle to cope with a growing passenger load by laying on additional flights is taking its toll on pilot alertness, a US space agency study said. It said heavier schedules - coupled with improved cockpit technology that gives pilots little to do at cruising altitudes - induce drowsiness despite rules that ban napping. Pilots also are forbidden to take mid-flight walks except to use the toilet. A NASA official recommended less automation, brighter cockpit lighting, less-demanding pilot schedules, and revised rules that allow "controlled" napping.
New boundaries for five congressional districts - one of which had been drawn to ensure the election of a black candidate - were approved by a federal court in North Carolina. The 12th District was declared unconstitutional in April for the second time since 1995. Its new design reduces the proportion of black residents from 46 percent to 35.
Approval of a plan that would deny a portion of federal aid to Indian tribes who operate large, profitable gambling enterprises was expected by a Senate Appropriations subcommittee. The $12 million involved - out of the $760 million to be paid to tribal governments this year - would go instead to impoverished reservations while efforts continue to find a more equitable allocation formula. But it is opposed by some Indian leaders who say it would pit tribes against each other.
American trouble-shooter Richard Holbrooke arrived in the Balkans in a last-ditch attempt to get Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to stop his crackdown on ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. Last week, Milosevic pledged to discuss peace with Albanian separatist leaders in the province but refused to pull back his troops. A senior NATO official said the time remaining to find a peaceful solution was "very short." He indicated the alliance was consider- ing a combination of air and ground activities, with a possible deployment in Kosovo of more than 20,000 troops under its command. Above, Kosovo Liberation Army fighters run to battle against Serbian police in Junik, Kosovo.
A group of 16 Chinese dissidents urged President Clinton to meet ousted Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang during his visit to Beijing, starting tomorrow. A spokesman for the group said they had pressed Clinton to ask the Chinese government to free Zhao, who has been living under virtual house arrest since 1989. Zhao was toppled by the party's hard-liners for sympathizing with students during the Tiananmen Square protests. Meanwhile, China reminded the US that it wanted the political status of Taiwan to remain a top priority in talks with Clinton. Chinese legal reforms were also likely to be a key issue.
"Extreme tension in Russian society has become a reality," President Boris Yeltsin declared before his government unveiled a radical program to curb the country's growing financial woes. Yeltsin said the economic crisis had become so acute that it was causing social and political dangers. The program included a shakeup in the collection of taxes, spending cuts, and plans to halve Russia's key interest rate from 60 percent. The Communist chairman of the lower house of parliament predicted there was a "high chance" the ruble would be devalued and the government could fall. Meanwhile, a team of International Monetary Fund experts was in a second day of discussions with Russian officials on extra aid.
Analysts were raising the prospect of another violent clash between Indonesia's military and protesters. Plans were under way for 10,000 workers today to call for President BJ Habibie's resignation. The protest was being organized by the Indonesian Labor Welfare Union, whose leader was just released from prison by Habibie. A senior military commander was quoted in a local newspaper as saying his troops would "cripple" the protesters if they failed to heed warnings. In another development, the Foreign Ministry said the government was prepared to give limited autonomy to East Timor, which demanded a referendum on independence from Indonesia.
In a new effort to push up sagging prices on the oil futures market, members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) debated further production cuts. The talks came before the cartel's summer meeting today in Vienna. Although traders wanted a cut of at least 1 million barrels a day, the agreed reductions so far were 823,000 barrels from OPEC members as well as participating non-OPEC producers. A round of cuts agreed to at emergency meetings in March proved too small to allow prices to recover from recent 12-year lows.
Police in Guyana fired tear gas and pellet guns at hundreds of protesters demanding the resignation of Pesident Janet Jagan. A fire believed to be related to the violence heavily damaged the Finance Ministry in the capital, Georgetown. Many protesters who marched in the demonstration, were from the opposition People's National Congress, which contended the Dec. 15 election of the US-born Jagan was illegal. Jagan has refused to step down.
You'd expect a clergyman to maintain that honesty is always the best policy, right? But arguing otherwise last weekend won the Rev. Clark Berge the championship of the 1998 Great American Think-Off. The Episcopalian from Mount Sinai, N.Y., was up against an incoming college students who took the opposing view in the finals at New York Mills, Minn. Berge's logic: "Certain circumstances require moral courage to do the right thing, such as protecting a Jewish person in Nazi Germany."
Aimee Brosseau graduated as valedictorian of the Class of 1998 at Winooski (Vt.) High School - the sixth member of her family to achieve that honor.
The scene: Jakarta. Another street demonstration is under way - as there has been daily since Indonesians decided they'd had enough of corrupt politics and a collapsing economy. But something about this rally is different. The 70 people outside a government building in the capital are demanding an end . . . to all the protests. Said an organizer: "We're fed up; we have to stop this."
The Day's List
Intrigued by 'X-Files,' Film-Goers Make It No. 1
The strategy behind shrouding production of "The X-Files" in secrecy worked. Few people were permitted to know the whole plot, and scripts were printed in red ink on red paper to discourage photocopying. But the adapted-from-TV conspiracy flick intrigued ticket-buyers enough to debut as last weekend's box-office leader in theaters across North America. The films with the largest grosses (in millions) June 19-21:
1. "The X-Files" $30.1
2. "Mulan" 22.7
3. "The Truman Show" 12.4
4. "Six Days, Seven Nights" 10.7
5. "A Perfect Murder" 7.4
6. "Can't Hardly Wait" 3.8
7. "Hope Floats" 3.3
8. "Godzilla" 3.0
9. "Deep Impact" 2.7
10. "The Horse Whisperer" 2.6
- Exhibitor Relations, Inc./AP