News In Brief

The US

The House was expected to pass as early as today a bill that would revamp the Internal Revenue Service. Earlier, House and Senate lawmakers planned to formally announce details of the compromise bill, which would strengthen taxpayer rights. Republicans attached a provision to change the holding period in the new capital-gains tax law from 18 to 12 months. A Senate vote is expected in early July, and President Clinton says he'll sign the bill.

Democratic lawmakers block-ed a Senate vote on measures designed to crack down on China. They said the proposals, offered as amendments to a defense spending bill, would undermine Clinton's authority at the US-China summit. The measures would have blocked travel visas for Chinese officials who engage in religious persecution or promote forced abortion and sterilization policies, and would have blocked US-subsidized World Bank loans.

As the Clintons planned to depart Washington, the White House announced that China had refused to reverse its decision to bar three Radio Free Asia journalists excluded from covering the visit. Their visas were first granted and then revoked by the embassy in Washington. China gave no reason for the exclusions.

Republicans retained a key New Mexico congressional seat with the election of Heather Wilson, a former arms-control negotiator in the Bush administration. She defeated Democrat Phil Maloof in the special election to fill an Albuquerque-area district seat previously held by Rep. Steve Schiff (R), who died in March. Wilson will be the first woman to represent the state in Congress in 50 years.

Clinton vetoed legislation that would have imposed tough sanctions on US companies that sell missile technology to Iran, calling the measure "inflexible and indiscriminate." Congress is considered likely to override the veto. Meanwhile, UN Ambassador and Energy Secretary-designate Bill Richardson told ABC's "Good Morning America" it will be difficult for the international community to lift sanctions on Iraq if UN inspection teams confirm that the country put deadly nerve gas on Gulf-war missile warheads.

AT&T announced plans to buy cable television giant Tele-Communications Inc. for $32 billion in a bid to expand its reach. The deal would allow AT&T to provide digital and Internet services to TCI's 14 million cable customers.

White House Chief of Staff John Podesta appeared before the grand jury in the Monica Lewinsky inquiry. According to reports, it was at the request of presidential secretary Betty Currie that Podesta asked UN Ambassador Richardson to consider hiring the former White House intern last year.

Swiss bank representatives and Holocaust victims met State Department mediators following last week's $600 million offer by the banks to settle allegations that they hoarded victims' funds after World War II. No details were disclosed, but State Department officials said that "all parties were present" and that the discussions "are continuing." Jewish groups have rejected the $600 million offer as inadequate.

Correction: The Associated Press has advised that its photograph of a mountain climber rescued in Alaska, which appeared in this space June 23, incorrectly identified him as American Bill Finley. In fact, he is Steve Brown of Britain.

The World

With President Clinton's arrival scheduled for today, Chinese authorities tightened surveillance of democracy activists and disgruntled people who lost jobs in the move to a market economy. From house arrest, popular reformist Zhao Ziyang challenged the government to admit that its 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown against dissidents was "one of the biggest human rights problems of this century."

Final campaigning was frenetic for "the most important election in the history" of Northern Ireland as voters prepared to implement the April 10 peace accord between Pro-testants and Catholics. Today's balloting will choose the 108 members of the legislative assembly, who, in turn, will appoint the administration that will attempt to manage the province's own affairs for the first time since Britain imposed direct rule in 1972. The assembly's decisions will require majority support from both sides of the sectarian divide.

Amid new Iraqi threats to reconsider its cooperation with UN weapons inspectors if sweeping economic sanctions aren't lifted immediately, the Security Council was to hear from their boss, Richard Butler. Butler was to report on allegations that US scientists had detected traces of nerve gas on fragments of Gulf war missiles found by the inspectors in March.

With West Bank troop-withdrawal opponents camped outside his office, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and senior advisers were weighing a final decision on whether to hold a national referendum on the issue. Israel Radio said its poll found 62 percent public support for such a vote but that it would not be held until September at the earliest.

The flow of economic bailout payments to Indonesia would resume if the government and the International Monetary Fund sign a new agreement on time today. The measure was to have been OK'd last month. But the IMF's review of the economy and the government's strategy for recovery could not be held because of massive rioting that toppled President Suharto. Analysts said such factors as the exchange rate for the rupiah, the inflation and gross domestic product forecasts, and rescheduling of foreign-debt repayment may still have to be revised.

Saying, "this was the last time," the leader of a centrist opposition party swung just enough support to Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi's government to win a crucial vote in parliament on NATO expansion. But analysts said Prodi, who has survived two votes of confidence since April 1997, could well face another next week with such volatile issues as state aid for private schools and renewal of NATO-base leases still to be decided.

Nigeria's highest-profile political prisoner, Moshood Abiola, could be released "in a matter of days," a senior government source said. New President Abdulsalam Abubakar has met twice with Abiola since assuming office earlier this month, the source said, adding that they were attempting to resolve one point: Abiola's insistence on claiming that he won the 1993 presidential elections.

A former dictator was the declared winner of Togo's presidential election, immediately sparking calls for his resignation. Gnassingbe Eyadema, ruler of the west African country for 31 years, won a report-ed 52 percent of the vote, to 34 percent for challenger Gilchrist Olympio. Thousands of Olympio supporters protested in the capital, Lom, and the head of the national election commission resigned, complaining of harassment and intimidation.

Convicted American traitor Lori Berenson will neither be pardoned nor granted a new trial, Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori said. He overrode pleas from his own prime minister to reconsider her case because it was "absurd" to convict a foreigner for treason. In January, Berenson was found guilty of helping leftist rebels plan a thwarted assault on Peru's Congress.


" They follow me whenever I go out to buy groceries. They're 'protecting' me."

- Ren Wanding, one of many democracy activists subjected to tighter-than-usual surveillance by Chinese authorities in the hours before President Clinton's arrival.

Shaken by what they'd seen last Saturday afternoon, passersby in Wellington, New Zealand, called police to report a shooting in a downtown parking lot. Soon, the area was swarming with SWAT team officers looking for the victim and two men carrying sawed-off shotguns. They were still at it two hours later when the phone rang again. There had been a shooting, all right - of a scene in the movie, "Abandon All Hope." One of the actors happened to be watching coverage of the "crime" on a TV newscast and realized the police hadn't been notified in advance. The filmmaker then found himself the target - of a stern reprimand by the police.

Because sports are supposed to bring people together "in a spirit of friendship," tournament officials reversed themselves and OK'd a wedding on the field in Marseille, France, where Brazil and Norway would soon meet in a World Cup soccer game. "We thought, why on Earth are we saying 'no?'" a spokesman explain-ed. But the bride, a Brazilian, and groom, a Norwegian, were obliged to keep the ceremony quiet - to avoid "a flood of similar requests, with Moroccans marrying Paraguayans, and goodness knows what."

The Day's List

Why Restaurant Honor Failed to Thrill Bay Area

When San Francisco came out on top in Esquire magazine's ranking of "America's best restaurant cities," why weren't people by the Golden Gate delighted at the honor? Reason: Esquire ruled New York ineligible on grounds that the Big Apple has been No. 1 in that category for nearly a decade. The cities Esquire did choose to salute - in descending order:

San Francisco


New Orleans

Los Angeles








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