News In Brief

The US

Top Microsoft executives - among them chairman Bill Gates - did not attend the opening of a new Senate hearing on competition in the computer software industry. Judiciary Committee chairman Orrin Hatch (R) of Utah attacked "the extent to which Microsoft is exploiting its current monopolies ... to kill off potential threats and to control new technologies." With a federal anti-trust trial scheduled to begin in September, the company said additional testimony would serve no useful purpose.

The International Monetary Fund has exaggerated its financial problems and could borrow $60 billion on capital markets, the chairman of a joint congressional panel said. US Rep. James Saxton (R) of New Jersey spoke as House Republicans put off until September a crucial vote on $18 billion in US funds to replenish IMF reserves. IMF officials say they don't intend to tap capital markets, although their resources have been drained by massive rescue packages to Russia and Asian countries.

Larry Cockell, President Clinton's former chief bodyguard, was not among a group of Secret Service officers who arrived at the federal courthouse in Washington to face more questions on Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Meanwhile, the attorney for Clinton secretary Betty Currie said he believed she had made her final appearance before the grand jury investigating the Lewinsky matter. And a new CBS poll indicated that 59 percent of respondents want independent counsel Kenneth Starr to stop looking into allegations linking Clinton to Lewinsky.

A vote to override Clinton's veto of so-called partial-birth abortions was expected in the House, with passage considered likely. But a similar action by the Senate, probably in September, is likely to fall several votes short, sponsors said. Clinton has vetoed the controversial measure twice. A bipartisan group of House members has vowed to try passing an alternative bill next year that would ban all elective abortions after a fetus is viable except for serious health reasons or to save a woman's life.

A shutdown of state government in California was averted as lawmakers passed an emergency bill postponing its budget deadline for two more weeks. The measure earmarks $19 billion to allow the state to continue paying its bills until Aug. 5 while the legislature tries to resolve election-year bickering over how to spend surplus tax revenues.

Trading in shares of a former government-owned nuclear fuel producer was to open on the New York Stock Exchange. US Enrichment Corp. of Bethesda, Md., makes fuels for electrical utility reactors in 14 countries and its revenues for the 1997 fiscal year are expected to total $1.4 billion. Analysts said the privatization of the business could generate $2.15 billion.

New claims for unemployment benefits fell to the lowest level since the strike against General Motors began June 5, the Labor Department reported. It said 315,000 Americans had filed such claims in the week ending July 18 - a drop of 22,000 from the week before. Economists had expected at least 330,000 new claims.

Enforcement of an order banishing X-rated clubs, theaters, bookstores, and massage parlors to industrial neighborhoods of New York was on hold while their operators appealed it to US Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. He was their last resort after Mayor Rudolph Giuliani won two lower-court rulings allowing him to implement zoning changes enacted in 1995. The changes bar sex-oriented establishments within 500 feet of homes, houses of worship, schools, or each other.

Amid warnings by superstar Michael Jordan that he wouldn't play for "a college coach" - the Chicago Bulls scheduled a news conference to announce the hiring of ex-Iowa State University mentor Tim Floyd. But it was not clear, as the Monitor went to press, whether Floyd would be named as head coach of the six-time National Basketball Association champions or as director of operations.

The World

Twenty thousand refugees fled a battle-scarred central Kosovo town, scene of the worst fighting since war erupted between Serb forces and separatist ethnic Albanians. Each side accused the other of committing atrocities during the five-day battle for Orahovac. A western European mission said prospects for a peaceful settlement in Kosovo now were "minute" because the international community had failed to intervene at the start of the conflict. The Assembly of the Western European Union said Serb forces were "systematically cleansing" ethnic Albanians at the Kosovo-Albania border zone.

Tokyo stocks fell for the fourth day after speculation that Japan's credit rating could be downgraded. Moody's Investors Service said the credit rating review was prompted by Japan's "deep" economic problems and its leaders' lack of consensus on reforms. Today, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party will choose among three candidates for prime minister who have vowed to stop the recession. Foreign Minister Keizo Obuchi is considered the frontrunner.

Iran successfully tested a medium-range missile that could hit Israel or Saudi Arabia, The New York Times reported. White House spokesman Mike McCurry confirmed that US spy satellites had detected Iran's test of a Shehab 3 missile with an 800-mile range, saying the Clinton administration was concerned over the dangers the test posed to the political and military balance in the Middle East.

Dealing a serious blow to the reformist rule of Iran's moderate President Mohamad Khatami, a court convicted one of his most valued political allies of corruption, sentencing him to five years' in prison. Tehran Mayor Gholamhossein Karbaschi also was banned from holding public office for 20 years. The trial was seen as an attempt by hard-line conservatives to erode Khatami's popularity and reform efforts.

Senior US and Pakistani officials concluded "substantive and constructive" talks on nuclear arms controls, and said they would meet again next month. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif indicated to Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott that his government could sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty if "vital security concerns" were addressed, including its dispute with India over the Kashmir region.

The Czech Republic will be led by its first leftist government since the collapse of Communist rule in 1990. A month after the country's June 21 elections, President Vaclav Havel appointed 18 ministers, all but one from the Social Democrats, to parliament. The new premier is Milos Zeman.

China's president directed the military to shut down its vast businesses as part of a government crackdown on smuggling. Analysts said Jiang Zemin intended to turn the Army, the world's largest, into a modern, professional fighting force.

The leader of Russia's breakaway Chechnya province blamed a failed assassination attempt on "foreign forces." President Aslan Maskhadov, who had commanded Chechen guerrilla forces against Russian troops, was slightly injured after a car bomb exploded near his motorcade in the capital, Grozny. The blast killed his bodyguard.

In elections dismissed as purely symbolic, the stage was set for North Korea's Communist Party chief to assume leadership Sunday. Elections were delayed for three years to allow a "mourning period" for President Kim Il-sung. His son, Kim Jong-il, is the de-facto leader.


"This is nothing but another show for unsuccessful competitors to make their complaints against one of America's most successful companies." - US Sen. Slade Gorton (R) of Washington, attacking new congressional hearings into Microsoft's business practices.

Phileas Fogg would have swelled with pride. Ex-BBC journalist Brian Milton was so inspired by Jules Verne's fictional balloonist that he climbed into a microlight - a combined hang glider and motorcycle - and set out on his own flight of fancy. Though failing to beat Fogg's record - Milton needed 120 days, not 80 - he still set a record for a 'round-the-world trip in a single-engine, open-cockpit aircraft. His adventures might well have produced a new epic if Verne were still writing today. He battled blizzards in Alaska, was buzzed by a Syrian fighter jet, his engine blew up, and he almost crashed on his final landing in London.

Speaking of buzzing, the news media in South Australia could hardly contain their excitement at the discovery of a previously unknown desert carving - an Aborigine poised to throw a spear. The thing was almost 19 miles long: How could it have appeared so suddenly? Was it the work of extraterrestrials? No, more likely local people using farm machinery, police theorized. The giveaway: a - shall we say - personal-care item found at the scene. It's believed the "artists" wanted to make their remote area a tourist attraction.

The Day's List

'Hoosiers' Places First In Sports-Movie Survey

When USA Today readers were asked to choose their 10 favorite sports movies, more than 10,500 respondents sent in ballots either to the print edition or to its electronic counterpart. The winner: "Hoosiers," starring Gene Hackman. The poll's top 10 and the percentage of readers naming each of them among their 10 favorites:

1. "Hoosiers" 62%

2. "Field of Dreams" 60

3. "The Natural" 55

4. "Rocky" *** 52

5. "Bull Durham" 44

6. "Brian's Song" 41

7. "Caddyshack" 40

8. "Chariots of Fire" 31

9. "Slapshot" 26

10. "Raging Bull" 25

*** original plus all sequels

- PR Newswire

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