News In Brief

President Clinton put the best face possible on the partial peace accord on Kosovo, calling it "a significant step forward" and urging both sides to sign it next month. Pentagon officials said it would cost $1.5 billion to $2 billion a year to run the US portion of a NATO-led peacekeeping operation in Kosovo.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan indicated he thinks UN peacekeepers should be used more often to help solve the growing number of civil and ethnic wars, especially in Africa. In a speech at Georgetown University in Washington, he made no reference to his attempts to persuade the GOP-controlled Congress to pay about $1.6 billion in US arrears to the UN, mainly for peace-keeping operations.

White supremacist John William King was found guilty of capital murder in the brutal dragging death of a black man last June in Jasper, Texas. King could receive the death penalty or life in prison. (Stories, pages 1, 2.) The verdict came as the Southern Poverty Law Center, a human-rights group, said the number of US neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan groups grew nearly 40 percent last year - to 314.

A federal appeals court ordered a stay of execution for a German just 13-1/2 hours before he was due to be put to death in the Arizona gas chamber for murdering a bank manager 17 years ago. In a unanimous decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco stopped the execution of Karl LaGrand, ruling that death by cyanide gas is unconstitutional on the grounds that it is cruel and inhumane.

An Indiana man has allegedly admitted to setting fire to as many as 50 churches in 11 states. Jay Scott Ballinger was charged with setting seven church fires in Indiana and one in Ohio - most of them rural white churches.

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley scored a sweeping reelection victory - winning 73 percent of the vote to 27 percent for four-term US Rep. Bobby Rush. Daley - first elected in 1989 - is the son of former Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley, who served for 21 years.

Georgia real estate magnate Johnny Isakson won the congressional seat Newt Gingrich occupied for 20 years. Isakson took 63 percent of the vote; 27 percent went to another Republican, Kennesaw State University Prof. Christina Jeffrey.

The Supreme Court ruled that a group of Palestinians accused of supporting foreign terrorists has no right to ask courts to thwart their deportation based on alleged selective enforcement of US laws. The court said illegal aliens have "no constitutional right" to assert such a defense. The US has tried since 1987 to deport eight Los Angeles-area Palestinians said to be supporters of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

One of the largest US lettuce growers agreed to pay $1.9 million to settle allegations that managers demanded sexual favors of female Hispanic farm workers, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported. The company, Tanimura & Antle of Salinas, Calif., admitted no wrongdoing in the agency's largest sexual-harassment settlement with an agricultural firm.

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