News In Brief

American Airlines continued to cancel some of its flights, despite a judge's order that pilots end a sickout that has delayed or stranded more than a quarter-million passengers. In US district court in Dallas, Judge Joe Kendall said the pilots would be held in contempt if they did not return to work. Pilots began calling in sick and refusing overtime last Saturday after a breakdown in talks over salaries to be paid to pilots of Reno Air, which was recently acquired by AMR Corp., the parent company of American Airlines.

Airline passengers delayed for more than two hours would be paid for their wasted time under a proposal unveiled by the chairman of the House Transportation Committee. The bill by Rep. Bud Shuster (R) of Pennsylvania would require airlines to pay passengers double the cost of their tickets for a delay of more than two hours, triple after three hours, and so on. Airlines would not be responsible if a flight was held up on orders from the Federal Aviation Administration.

A Vietnamese shopkeeper in Westminster, Calif., was met by a crowd of 150 people and hit in the face when he returned a portrait of the late Communist leader Ho Chi Minh to the window of his store. Truong Van Tran was not believed to be seriously injured. He had been attacked, picketed, and given an eviction notice for originally displaying the picture, before winning in court the right to put it back up.

Senate hearings on the independent-counsel statute will be begin Feb. 24, the Governmental Affairs Committee announced. The panel's GOP chairman, Fred Thompson of Tennessee, and its ranking Democrat, Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, said they may ask independent counsel Kenneth Starr and Attorney General Janet Reno to testify. The law was passed in 1978 as part of reforms that followed the Watergate scandal.

US fighter jets fired on several military installations while patrolling the northern "no fly" zone over Iraq, American officials said. The confrontations occurred in the vicinity of Mosul. No US personnel were reported injured, and no planes were damaged. Iraq reported two people were killed and others wounded in the attacks. It was the second consecutive day that US forces had hit Iraqi defense systems in response to perceived Iraqi provocations.

Post-holiday discounts helped produce a modest 0.2 percent gain in January retail sales after a big increase in December, the Commerce Department said. Seasonally adjusted sales of $232 billion were in line with analysts' expectations, following December's 1 percent gain.

Philanthropist Paul Mellon has bequeathed the National Gallery of Art its largest gift, the museum told The Washington Post. The donation, listed in a will filed in Warrenton, Va., includes $75 million and a collection of more than 100 works of art, including paintings by Claude Monet and Winslow Homer. The art is to remain with Mellon's widow, Rachel Lambert Lloyd, until her death. Other institutions also benefited from the will of Mellon, who died Feb. 1.

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