News In Brief

The US

Auto workers at General Motors' Saturn plant authorized a strike at their Spring Hill, Tenn., facility - the only GM plant in the country still turning out cars. Saturn President Don Hudler played down the vote, saying it did not indicate a strike was imminent. It could, however, signal the end of a unique contract designed to give members of the United Auto Workers Union a say in how the facility operates. The union said 96 percent of the more than 5,000 workers who cast ballots voted for the strike authorization.

President Clinton was expected to stress the need to restore discipline and safety to the nation's public schools in an address to delegates attending an American Federation of Teachers convention in New Orleans. A White House spokesman said the president would use the speech to call for an October conference that would bring together in Washington school officials, law-enforcement officers, and other experts to discuss problems facing US schools.

Georgia voters go to the polls today to choose nominees to succeed two-term Gov. Zell Miller (D). Polls suggested Republican Guy Millner, founder of the Norrell Corp. temporary agency, would win enough votes to avoid a runoff against former state Attorney General Mike Bowers. State Rep. Roy Barnes was leading Secretary of State Lewis Massey by 42 to 26 percent last week in the Democratic race, a poll indicated. But the presence of four other candidates was said to make runoff likely.

A proposal to soften the legal consequences of adultery by military-service members was running into heated opposition. A panel appointed by Defense Secretary William Cohen has proposed that adultery remain a crime, but not one that would be prosecuted in every case, Pentagon officials said. For instance, commanders would be instructed to file charges only if a relationship disrupted morale or the functioning of a military unit. A spokesman for the Marine Corps said the proposal would weaken "standards and the idea of accountability."

There was little or no relief for those affected by a severe heat wave in Southern states. In Dallas, thermometers rose above 100 degrees F. for the 14th straight day.

A federal judge has ruled that a 1993 report that secondhand cigarette smoke caused as many as 3,000 deaths a year among nonsmokers was flawed by procedural and scientific mistakes, The Wall Street Journal reported. The ruling by Judge William Osteen in US district court in Greensboro, N.C., came in a lawsuit by major cigarette companies seeking to have the Environmental Protection Agency study declared invalid. The report was considered critical in helping launch an era in which hundreds of municipalities have passed indoor smoking bans.

Tobacco officials let GOP lawmakers and their committees use company jets for dozens of flights last year, The Washington Post reported. Citing a report prepared by Democrats on the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, the Post said that sometimes tobacco executives accompanied the travelers - and that much of the travel occurred as tobacco firms were seeking legislation to protect them from lawsuits. Lawmakers must pay companies the equivalent of first-class airfare for such travel, but private jets offer added convenience and luxury, the Post noted.

SunTrust Banks Inc. is buying Crestar Financial Corp. for $9.5 billion in stock to create the nation's 10th-largest bank, the companies said. The combined banks would have nearly 1,100 branches, adding Crestar operations in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington to SunTrust branches in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama.

Seagram Co. is selling its Tropicana juice business to PepsiCo Inc. for $3.3 billion, company officials said. The deal means Pepsi will compete in yet another arena with Coca-Cola Co., which owns the Minute Maid juice brand.

The World

NATO announced it was "deeply worried" over an escalation of fighting in Kosovo between Serbs and ethnic Albanians demanding independence. In one of the most violent clashes in the four-month war, more than 100 people were reported killed in a battle for control of the central town of Orahovac. At The Hague, US senior diplomat Richard Gelbard met Serbian opposition leaders who called on America to take the lead in helping to end the conflict.

Amid hopes that a peaceful solution will be found in East Timor, a UN special envoy met Indonesia's top military commander to discuss the province's demand for independence. About 250 students from Irian Jaya staged a rally in Jakarta, demanding a referendum on granting independence to the remote eastern territory.

India and the US inched closer to resolving a diplomatic standoff over nuclear arms control. However, Deputy Secretary of State, Strobe Talbott said there was "a long way to go." He is the first senior US official to visit New Delhi since the country's nuclear tests in May. India's Foreign Ministry reported there was a "narrowing in the gaps" between the countries, and a fourth round of talks would start next month in Washington. On the eve of Talbott's scheduled arrival in neighboring Pakistan today, local news reports suggested ruling party members would ask for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's resignation, following widespread criticism of his rule since that country's nuclear tests and resulting economic sanctions.

Taiwan will receive a third batch of US missile frigates to "safeguard" the island against Chinese military threats, Taiwanese defense officials said. Local media reported Taiwan ordered four Knox-class missile frigates. Also, the US reportedly will lease to Taiwan a transport ship used in aircraft carrier groups.

Russian coal miners warned they would block all entrances into Moscow beginning in August if the government does not pay months of back wages. Meanwhile, a miners' group ended a 16-day blockade of the Trans-Siberian railway after Russia's deputy prime minister agreed to talk to them. In Moscow, a parliamentary committee decided to hear renewed Communist-led impeachment proceedings against President Boris Yeltsin next week.

Ending a week of tension following Ecuador's presidential elections, Jamil Mahuad, mayor of Quito, the capital, was pronounced the winner. Mahuad won 51 percent of the vote, with rival Alvaro Noboa taking 49 percent. But Noboa charged the result was a fraud and demanded a recount.

Chinese scientists said they hoped to clone a giant panda to try to save the animal from extinction. The head of the program reported scientists would plant a panda cell in an egg cell from another species, a more complex process than previous methods, which were limited to cloning within the same species.

Afghanistan's hard-line Islamic Army threatened to "take action" against international aid agencies if they did not leave the war-torn capital of Kabul "for their own safety." Aid groups had ignored orders from the Taliban to relocate, fearing they would be more vulnerable to violent attacks. The European Union recommended agencies leave, and announced it would freeze new funding for humanitarian aid projects to protest the Taliban's treatment of women.


"The nation ... is now paying a steep price for electing individuals to high public office who lacked the right credentials." - From an editorial in Pakistan's Frontier Post, on the political and financial turmoil following May's nuclear tests.

Say you're a policeman investigating a break-in: What would be the best clue a culprit could leave? How about a pager with a home phone number on it? An obliging burglar did just that last week at a computer store in Albuquerque, N.M. - along with a trail of blood and a pizza deliveryman's hat.

The Day's List

General Electric Ranked Most Competitive Firm

In Forbes magazine's latest listing of the world's most competitive corporations, 27 of the top 50 are American, including 7 of the top 10. And for the first time in three years, Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch/Shell is not in first place. Britain and Germany each have five companies on the list; Japan and Germany have four apiece. Forbes's new top 10:

1. General Electric US

2. HSBC Holdings Britain

3. Royal Dutch/Shell Netherlands

4. Ford US

5. General Motors US

6. Exxon US

7. Toyota Japan


9. Travelers US

10. Citicorp US


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