News In Brief

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With firefighters gaining ground, officials in northeastern Florida lifted an evacuation order for Flagler County, allowing some 30,000 residents to return to their homes three days after being chased away by brush fires. Mandatory evacuation orders had already been lifted in nearby Brevard County and most of Volusia County. A northbound section of I-95, the main north-south route in the area, was reopened from I-4 to Flagler County to accommodate returning residents.

Kenneth Starr has decided not to issue an interim report to Congress on his Whitewater investigation, a spokesman for the special prosecutor said. Charles Bakaly made the comment on CNN. In June, several congressional Republicans said they did not want an interim report. All 435 House members and one-third of the 100-member Senate are seeking re-election in November, and most are hoping to recess early this fall and return to their states and districts for campaigning.

Strikes at two Michigan auto-parts plants moved into their second month as negotiators for General Motors and the United Auto Workers Union reported no progress in efforts to resolve the dispute. About 3,400 workers walked off their jobs at Flint Metal Center in Flint, Mich., June 5. They were joined June 11 by 5,800 workers at the automaker's nearby Delphi East plant.

President Clinton was to unveil a program to help poor elderly and disabled people make their Medicare co-payments. A spokesman said the goal is to enroll as many as 3 million low-income Medicare beneficiaries in the new Qualified Medicare Beneficiary program.

About 3 out of 4 Americans believe health-care reform should be a top priority for Congress, and many support new rules on how health-maintenance organizations deal with patients, a Time/CNN poll indicated. Seventy-six percent of respondents cited health care as a top priority for Congress in the next year, surpassed only by education reform and legislation to strengthen Social Security.

A man who says he is the son of a senior Iranian official has charged the Iranian government with backing extremist groups and terrorism abroad, the Los Angeles Times reported. Ahmad Rezaei, a refugee, told the Times he is the son of former Revolutionary Guards commander Maj. Gen. Mohsen Rezaei. The younger Rezaei said he fled to the US so he would be free to talk about Iranian-sponsored terrorism.

A major tobacco trial was scheduled to begin in Miami, where 500,000 Florida smokers are seeking $200 billion in damages from the industry. The trial will be watched closely, in part because it is the first time a group of tobacco users has brought such a case to trial. The smokers are represented by the legal team that won a $349 million settlement for flight attendants last year in a secondhand-smoke case against the same defendants: Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, Brown & Williamson, Lorillard, Liggett Group, the Council for Tobacco Research, and the Tobacco Institute.

Saks Fifth Avenue is being purchased for $2.1 billion in stock by Proffitt's Inc., one of the nation's biggest department-store chains, officials said. The combined company will have 330 stores in 38 states and estimated 1998 revenues of more than $6 billion.

Roy Rogers, who died at his home in Victorville, Calif., reigned as Hollywood's "King of the Cowboys" for nearly three decades. After supplanting Gene Autry as the top singing cowboy, Rogers sat tall in the saddle for millions who grew up watching his black-and-white Westerns in the 1940s and '50s. A later generation knew him from the fast-food chain that bears his name. In many films and in a TV series, he co-starred with Dale Evans, whom he married in 1947.

The World

One of the worst nights of violence in recent years swept Northern Ireland after police turned back a Protestant parade through a hostile Catholic neighborhood of Portadown. Militants fought with security forces in Belfast, Londonderry, Lisburn, Antrim, Ballymena, and other communities. Portadown itself was calm as dawn broke, although defiant Orange Order members remained camped in fields, where they vowed to stay until permitted to march. Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble denied reports he'd quit as chief minister of the province's new self-governing assembly unless the march was allowed.

Signals were emerging from Nigeria that its new military leader might delay long-awaited democratic elections and a transition to civilian rule. A state-owned newspaper reported Gen. Abdulsalam Abu-bakar was likely to announce an extension of his term, scheduled to end in October, by a year to allow for "the laying of a solid foundation for genuine democracy." Abubakar had won international praise for breaking with his predecessor's dictatorial policies and releasing some political prisoners.

A symbolic first patrol by the new Kosovo Observer Mission of international diplomats toured towns that have been the scene of recent fighting between Albanian separatists and Serb troops. The patrols are aimed at easing tensions. Meanwhile, US envoy Richard Holbrooke ended mediation efforts that had him shuttling between the capital, Pristina, and the Yugoslav capital, Belgrade, but announced he'd return soon.

A former Serb hospital director, the first person charged with genocide in the 1992-1995 Bosnian civil war, pleaded innocent to each of 14 counts as his trial opened in The Hague. Milan Kovacevic is accused of helping to set up camps at Omarska, Trnopolje, and Kera-term in northwestern Bosnia, where Muslims and Croats were raped, tortured, and killed. If convicted, he faces a maximum life sentence.

Exit polls and early returns indicated Mexico's ruling party was likely to retake a key governorship it lost six years ago to its leading rival. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) appeared to have won in Chihuahua state, dimming the 2000 presidential hopes of losing National Action Party Gov. Francisco Barrio. A PRI victory also seemed assured in the state of Durango. But the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution was claiming the governorship of Zacatecas.

Australian Aborigines staged a "national day of shame" outside Parliament in a last-ditch attempt to scuttle a government-sponsored bill that would overturn land rights they'd earlier won in court. The bill was expected to become law this week after being passed in the Senate. But Aboriginal groups won a new set of rights when a federal court ruled they had communal ownership to sea and seabed areas off Australia.

Trains were forced hundreds of miles out of their way as angry Russian coal miners blocked the Trans-Siberian railway for a fourth straight day. The miners, protesting unpaid wages and maintaining the blockade at Anzhero-Sudzhensk, refused to talk with a government commission sent to negotiate. Meanwhile, in the key Far Eastern port city of Vladivostok, striking utility workers cut off electricity to a half-million users.

Three of the world's most treasured paintings were recovered undamaged by police in Italy. "The Gardener" and "A Woman from Arles" by van Gogh and Cezanne's "The Cabin of Jourdan" were stolen from Rome's National Gallery of Modern Art May 19. Their worth, estimated at $30 million, made them too famous to sell openly, police said. One of eight suspects arrested in the case was a museum guard.


"What we've done so far is something that'll stick with me for the rest of my life."

- New York Yankees manager Joe Torre, whose team finished the first half of the Major League Baseball season with 61 wins, tying the best record in history.

Let's say it's time for a meeting of the Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve - the folks who decide what change, if any, should be made to interest rates. Is there a way to tell in advance which way the decision will go? Yes, according to the CNBC cable TV show, "Squawk Box." The clue, as developed by its reporters: the thickness of Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan's briefcase as he arrives. A stuffed case, so the logic goes, means borrowing costs are headed up. A thin case: the opposite. It's not known whether Greenspan, who's said to enjoy a joke and is married to a savvy NBC-TV journalist (Andrea Mitchell), would ever deliberately try to trick eagle-eyed reporters.

Guards at a police station in Rayong, Thailand, were glued to the wrong TV screen while a jail break was taking place right under their noses. As a closed-circuit monitor showed prisoners sawing through cell bars and escaping, the keepers were watching live coverage of a World Cup soccer game from France. They'll have lots of time to watch TV now; they were suspended.

The Day's List

Clearing the Air: Cities That Have Done It Best

With a drop of almost 82 percent over the decade ending in 1996, Cleveland rid itself of more smoggy days than any other US city, a newly released study by the Washington-based Foundation for Clean Air Progress says. Using data from the Environmental Protection Agency, it says the Ohio city cut annual "ozone exceedance" days from 6.6 between 1987 and 1991 to 1.2 over the 1992-1996 period. The top 10 cities and their percentage reductions:

Cleveland 81.8

Milwaukee 80.8

Charlotte, N.C. 78.9

Boston 78.6

Chicago 77.1

Providence, R.I. 73.7

Nashville, Tenn. 73.7

Newark, N.J. 73.6

Cincinnati 72.9

San Diego 72.7

- PR Newswire

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