News In Brief

The nation's prisons and jails held a record 1.8 million inmates last year - one out of every 150 US residents, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported. The number of people behind bars June 30, 1998, was 4.4 percent higher than a year earlier. The incarceration rate has more than doubled over the past 12 years, the bureau said.

The House and Senate passed a measure that gives local school districts more flexibility in the use of federal education dollars. Large bipartisan majorities - 330-to-90 in the House and 98-to-1 in the Senate - masked a partisan divide over President Clinton's initiative to reduce class size by adding 100,000 teachers. Democrats wanted to add $11.4 billion to fund the teachers for six more years. However, House Republicans were able to prevent Democrats from offering an amendment - and Republicans, backed by a few Democrats, were able to defeat the proposal in the Senate.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said a House vote in support of sending US troops to Kosovo strengthened the hand of diplomats seeking a solution to the impasse there. The House approved, 219 to 191, a resolution authorizing President Clinton to carry out plans to send 4,000 troops to the Balkan province as part of a 28,000-strong NATO force that would implement any peace deal. Peace negotiations were to resume outside Paris today.

Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic became members of NATO, expanding the Western military alliance to 19 members. Foreign ministers of the three former Soviet-bloc countries signed formal documents in a low-key ceremony at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Mo.

A bomb exploded at an Ashe-ville, N.C., abortion clinic, damaging the building but causing no injuries. Law-enforcement officials said part of the device had failed to explode. The remaining portion of the bomb was later detonated by police.

The commander of US troops in Latin America has recommended the military end its five-year presence in Haiti, The Washington Post reported. Gen. Charles Wilhelm of the US Southern Command reportedly told the defense subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee Feb. 25 that US forces have been unable to create stability in Haiti and are now at risk. The Post said it had obtained a copy of Wilhelm's closed-door testimony.

Sen. Connie Mack (R) of Florida said he will not seek reelection in 2000. He was elected to the Senate in 1988 after serving two terms in the House.

The Marine Corps said it expected a decision today on whether the navigator in a jet that cut an Italian gondola cable will stand trial on criminal charges. The pilot of the EA-6B Prowler was acquitted of all charges last week at a court-martial in Camp Lejeune, N.C. Twenty people aboard the Mount Cermis ski lift near the town of Cavalese died in the accident Feb. 3, 1998.

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