News In Brief

The US

A Senate probe into satellite exports to China has concluded China did receive military benefits and sensitive technology from the transfers, majority leader Trent Lott said. He called for an independent investigation of campaign fund-raising, citing "new information" about Chinese attempts to influence US politics. But the Mississippi Republican said he could not comment "in detail about the nature of this information." Minority leader Tom Daschle accused Lott of a "partisan" interpretation of data.

The Justice Department decided to appeal a court decision compelling Secret Service personnel to testify in the Monica Lewinsky inquiry. Officials said the full US Court of Appeals would be asked to reconsider a ruling by a three-judge panel of the court last week that independent counsel Kenneth Starr can question Secret Service personnel before his Whitewater grand jury. Six of the court's 11 judges would have to agree to reconsider the case.

The White House said it was studying the possibility of suing the cigarette industry to recover health-care costs related to smoking if Congress fails to pass comprehensive tobacco legislation. An official said a lawsuit was only one alternatives being considered, but he declined to identify others.

President Clinton's ratings in personal-opinion polls edged up again. An ABC/Washington Post poll put the president's job-approval rating at 63 percent, up from 59 percent in June. A second poll by Zogby International gave him a personal rating of 61.2 percent.

General Motors Corp. filed a lawsuit seeking immediate arbitration for strikes at two of its Flint, Mich. plants, saying they violate the no-strike clause of its 1996 agreement with the United Auto Workers Union. The suit, filed in the US District Court in Detroit, seeks injunctive relief and damages against the union.

Inflation lapsed to nearly nothing in June, helped by falling gasoline, computer, and car prices, the Labor Department said. The consumer price index edged up a seasonally adjusted 0.1 percent last month. For the first half of the year, inflation ran at a 1.4 percent annual rate, compared with an 11-year low of 1.7 percent for all of last year. Meanwhile, retail sales barely edged up in June - gaining 0.1 percent - after a 1.2 percent jump in May, the Commerce Department said.

A jury in Dutchess County, N.Y., was due back in court to decide how much money former prosecutor Steven Pagones should be awarded after winning his racially charged defamation suit against three black advisers to alleged rape victim Tawana Brawley. Pagones, who is white, was seeking $395 million from the Rev. Al Sharpton, a civil rights leader, and the co-defendants. The jury found they had made 10 public accusations against Pagones that they knew to be false. The defendants vowed to appeal. In 1987, a grand jury decided the reported rape of Brawley was a hoax.

An anti-Castro militant said he acted without the backing of the Cuban American National Foundation in efforts to topple the Cuban government. The comments of Luis Posada Carriles on Univision TV contradicted a New York Times story that said he acknowledged organizing bombings in Cuba financed by the late Jorge Mas Canosa and other foundation leaders.

Two black men, wrongfully convicted 30 years ago, received $500,000 each from the state of Florida. Freddie Pitts and Wilbert Lee were convicted by all-white juries of murdering two white gas-station attendants in 1963 in Port St. Joe. The convictions were thrown out after a white man admitted to the murders, but during a retrial, the confession was ruled inadmissible and Pitts and Lee were convicted again. After spending nine years on death row, they were pardoned in 1975. Legislation to compensate them, introduced during every session since 1977, finally passed this year.

The World

Russian President Yeltsin pleaded with the Communist-led parliament to approve his austerity program, which creditors require for the country to receive another financial bailout. A day before the powerful lower house was to consider the package, Yeltsin told opponents, "We are all one team." Earlier this week, the International Monetary Fund agreed to $12.5 billion in new loans for Russia, with more coming from the World Bank and other lenders.

China's Foreign Ministry angrily attacked the US Senate for urging the release of four dissidents arrested shortly after President Clinton's recent visit. A spokesman called the dissidents "mostly criminals" who had violated Chinese law and said senators "will not succeed in their attempts." Beijing also demanded that Clinton rein in Congress after another Senate resolution reaffirmed US support for Taiwan.

Forecasts of a meltdown in Japanese financial markets failed to come true, as the yen and stock indices held their ground despite the turmoil in national politics. The Nikkei closed up 128 points, while the yen was quoted at 141.36 to the US dollar. Meanwhile, in a published survey, 39 of 55 corporate executives failed to name anyone as their choice to succeed Prime Minister Hashimoto, who quit after leading his party to defeat in Sunday's Senate elections.

In a change of heart, Palestinian officials said they were willing to meet Israeli negotiators in a final attempt to break the deadlock over troop pullbacks from the West Bank. But they said no decision on such talks would be made until leader Yasser Arafat returned tomorrow from a visit to China. Elsewhere, the UN Security Council demanded that the borders of Jerusalem not be extended to Jewish settlements on the West Bank. But it stopped short of condemning Israel rather than risk a US veto.

Fierce protests again blocked an effort by Indian feminists to increase women's participation in Parliament. After rowdy scenes inside the Parliament, the Speaker said a bill that would allocate one-third of seats to women, would not be considered because "consensus has so far not been possible." It was first introduced in 1996 but has yet to reach a vote.

In a move seen mostly as symbolic, a coalition of Serb opposition leaders sought meetings with the parties to Kosovo's separatism dispute in hopes of proposing peaceful solutions. But the mission was destined to fail, analysts said, because Yugoslav President Milosevic, who ordered the crackdown on Albanians in the province, holds the balance of power. Meanwhile, Kosovo's self-styled parliament prepared for its first meeting, although Milosevic doesn't recognize the election that established it.

Military police in Indonesia arrested seven soldiers accused of kidnapping pro-democracy activists - nine of whom remain missing, human rights groups said. The country's newly appointed military commander said the detainees were from the elite special forces group. In East Timor, the governor called for calm after thousands fled, anticipating violent protests when the UN's special envoy to Indonesia visits later this week.

Renewed fighting between Angolan troops and suspected UNITA rebels is driving growing numbers of refugees into neighboring Congo, where they need food, UN officials said. They said 7,000 civilians fled Angola last week, bringing the number camped in the Kisangi area of southeastern Congo to 22,000. New UN sanctions took effect against UNITA July 1 for its failure to fulfill the conditions of a 1994 peace accord with the government.


"We have noticed that some people in foreign countries often mention China's so-called dissidents. Investigations show that these people are mostly criminals ..." - From a Foreign Ministry statement protesting 'interference' in Chinese internal affairs by members of Congress.

The Kaczor-Setter wedding last Saturday in Port Huron, Mich., was literally one of convenience. Oh, make no mistake, the couple were willing and happy to be there - Cassandra Kaczor in full-length gown and carrying a bouquet of flowers, and groom Kerry Setter attired in a tuxedo. It's just that the setting wasn't exactly traditional. While guests looked on, they exchanged vows at a 7-Eleven store where she's an assistant manager. Also in the wedding party were their four children - ages 7 to 11 - from previous marriages. July is, of course, the seventh month of the year, and Saturday was its 11th day.

Badge? Check. Uniform? Check. Holster? Check. Service revolver? Nope. And that's exactly the way Linn County, Iowa, sheriff Don Zeller intends the situation to remain for the police chief of Coggon, one of the towns in his jurisdiction. Zeller, as it turns out, has discretion under state law to deny handgun permits to people convicted of certain crimes. In 1995 , Coggon's top cop pleaded guilty rather than contest an assault charge.

The Day's List

Leisure Poll: Family Time Trails Reading and TV

Americans would rather curl up with a book or lounge in front of the TV than spend time with their families, results of a new Harris poll indicate. The telephone survey of more than a thousand people showed most have about 20 hours a week for leisure, a figure that has chang-ed little in recent years. Activities that were most popular and the percentage of respondents who chose them - sometimes more than one - as favorites:

Reading 30%

Watching TV 21

Spending time with family 13

Gardening 14

Fishing 11

Team sports 9

Sewing 8

Exercise 3

Shopping 3

Motorcycling 1

Sleeping 1

- Reuters

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