News In Brief

The US

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan expressed more concern about inflation than about the nation's current dramatic slowdown in economic activity during a midyear report to Congress. His comments dampened hopes of some economists that the Fed would cut interest rates. Instead, analysts said Greenspan seemed to be preparing financial markets for a possible rate increase at some future date.

United Auto Workers president Stephen Yokich spoke of "an all-out war" between his union and General Motors. Union leaders meeting in Flint, Mich., said they were prepared to win a war of attrition with the world's largest automaker. Talks were resumed, but no progress was expected as both sides prepared for today's arbitration hearing on GM's claim that the strikes are illegal.

Independent counsel Kenneth Starr and lawyers representing President Clinton, the White House, and Monica Lewinsky participated in an appeals-court hearing on alleged news leaks by the special prosecutor's office, legal sources said. The closed arguments concerned what documents and evidence can be demanded at hearings over allegations by Clinton's lawyers that Starr and his staff improperly disclosed secret grand-jury data.

On his way home from Russia in September, Clinton will stop in Northern Ireland to reemphasize US support for the peace process there, the White House said. A spokesman said Clinton probably would meet with leaders of the parties to the process, as well as with Republic of Ireland Prime Minister Bertie Ahern.

The House joined the Senate in affirming a US commitment to Taiwan's sovereignty. Republicans said the nonbinding resolution, approved 390 to 1, set the record straight after Clinton's remarks in China, which critics said tilted toward Beijing's views on the island's reunification with the mainland. Democrats said the measure is little more than a reiteration of long-standing policy.

The House resumed its sporadic campaign-finance debate by rejecting a potential "killer" amendment to a key campaign-finance reform proposal. The House voted 248 to 150 against an amendment requiring extensive disclosure of spending by labor unions, which might have splintered a bipartisan effort for reform.

House majority leader Dick Armey had a new prediction about appropriations for the International Monetary Fund. He told reporters Congress would cut and put conditions on a request for $18 billion for the international agency. Last week, Armey predicted that - in the end - Congress would approve the full request without conditions. Business lobbyists were said to be winning congressional support for the measure by arguing that the funds are needed to cope with Asia's economic crisis.

A plan to assign every American a lifetime health-care ID sparked heated debate in Chicago, where the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics opened the first of a series of hearings on the issue. The 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which guarantees that anyone changing or losing a job can get health insurance, requires the identifiers as a means of streamlining electronic transfer of medical data. Critics called for legal safeguards to protect privacy and prevent misuse of identifiers.

Saying, "the vice president is right," Clinton endorsed Al Gore's position that so-called greenhouse gases caused by humans contribute to the sweltering heat gripping much of the US. He called global warming "an education issue" about which "we've got to get people to think differently." Even New England was experiencing temperatures in the 90s.

Construction starts on new homes and apartments soared in June, the Commerce Department said. Total starts rose 5.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.61 million units. That figure was well above Wall Street predictions.

The World

Nigeria's military ruler promised to restore the country to democracy by May 29, 1999, ditching the discredited plans of his predecessor, Sani Abacha. In a national broadcast, Gen. Abdusalam Abubakar announced he would free all political prisoners remaining from the Abacha regime. Some political opponents said the speech merely repeated old, unkept promises.

The international community mobilized efforts to aid Papua New Guinea, in the wake of weekend tidal waves that killed an estimated 3,000 people and left 6,000 others missing. Medical teams from Australia and Japan flew to the remote island, which had run out of basic supplies. The US offered financial aid and said Secretary of State Madeleine Albright would visit the country on her way to Australia next week.

Russia's government urged Communist members of parliament to reconsider their opposition to an economic austerity package after the International Monetary Fund approved $11.2 billion in loans to help the country's sinking economy. The IMF decision was expected to pave the way for $17.1 billion in loans from the World Bank and Japan through 1999. The aid is tied to Russian economic reforms.

Three strong explosions shook Macedonia's capital and areas along the Yugoslav border, adding to international concerns that violence in Kosovo could spread to neighboring countries with substantial ethnic-Albanian populations. No group claimed responsibility for the blasts in Skopje, the capital, Kumanovo, and Tabanovci. There were no reports of injuries. Earlier, Macedonia's defense minister said he would send more troops to the border to prevent Kosovo's ethnic-Albanian rebels from smuggling weapons.

Right-wing Israeli Cabinet members threatened to topple Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu if he agreed to a US initiative aimed at helping to restore Middle East peace. Despite a deadlock in talks between top Israeli and Pales- tinian officials, some conservative Cabinet ministers were concerned Netanyahu would succumb to a peace proposal. Palestinians have accepted the US plan for Israel to withdraw from 13.1 percent of the West Bank. But in the talks Israel has insisted on 10 percent.

A Chinese court sentenced a dissident to three years' imprisonment in a continuing government crackdown on political activists since President Clinton wound up his visit there July 3. Fan Yiping was sentenced for helping a fellow activist escape from China.

Former South African President P. W. Botha ordered the bombing of a church headquarters in 1988 because the denomination was helping anti-apartheid activists, the country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission heard. Testifying about government-sanctioned bombings against black activists, Adriaan Vlok became the first former apartheid minister to admit to criminal acts against anti-apartheid groups.

At a UN hearing in Geneva, Algeria defended itself against allegations of torture, executions, and state-sponsored terrorism against Islamic fundamentalists. Before the UN Human Rights Committee, government officials said their country did not have a human-rights problem as a result of the violent civil war that has raged there since 1992. A UN team was to travel to Algiers, the capital, today at the government's invitation.


" People here saved their money. They can hold out a long time." - Michael Moore, whose 'Roger and Me' film examined effects of an earlier General Motors strike on Flint, Mich., accusing the automaker of underestimating the resolve of the current strikers.

When you live in the dusty Australian Outback, finding excitement can be tough. But, hey, that's why camel races were invented. So in Boulia, Queensland, last weekend they staged the "Desert Sands 2000" and watched the population swell to 10 times its normal size. Contestants literally came from the ends of the earth.

When Butch Ridenour's spade clunked against what turned out to be artifacts from the French and Indian Wars, the Fort Ashby, W. Va., resident's plans for a tomato garden were - well - history. His home, he learned, is on the site of the 233-year-old fort for which the town was named. And, yes, George Washington once slept there.

The Day's List

Filmgoers Fall in Love With Romantic 'Zorro'

The summer film season maintained its record-setting pace - with weekend ticket sales up 11 percent over the same period last year. And "The Mask of Zorro" - a romance-adventure starring Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, and Catherine Zeta-Jones - sold more tickets than any other July 17-19. Gross earnings for top movies at North American theaters for the weekend (in millions):

1. "The Mask of Zorro" $22.5

2. "Lethal Weapon 4" 21.7

3. "Armageddon" 16.6

4. "There's Something About Mary" 13.7

5. "Dr. Dolittle" 9.5

6. "Small Soldiers" 8.6

7. "Mulan" 4.9

8. "Madeline" 4.4

9. "The Truman Show" 2.2

10. "Six Days, Seven Nights" 2.1

- Exhibitor Relations Inc./AP

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