News In Brief

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was under pressure from Congress and the Clinton administration on a visit to Washington to postpone a unilateral declaration of statehood May 4 - the date when the Oslo peace accord with Israel expires. Arafat was seeking US help in answering legal questions raised by the May 4 date. If statehood is proclaimed, Israeli has threatened to retaliate by annexing parts of the West Bank it controls. President Clinton said he opposes statehood and any unilateral declaration by either side could impede the peace process.

The rules for judging the reliability of scientific expert testimony in court also apply to non-scientific experts, the Supreme Court ruled. The vote was unanimous. In a separate 8 to 1 decision, the justices ruled a federal judge in Alabama had correctly barred an engineer from testifying as an expert witness in a 1993 traffic-accident case. The court expanded the scope of a 1993 decision that established rules for considering whether scientific evidence should be allowed.

Some $900 million in European products were targeted for punitive tariffs by the Clinton administration in a battle over the ban on exports of American beef treated with growth hormones. More than 90 percent of US cattle producers use the growth hormones and have complained that the European ban costs them $500 million a year in lost sales. Unless the dispute is settled, such items as Danish hams and Belgian chocolates could disapear from US supermarket shelves by summer.

The Energy Department said it will send its first shipment of radioactive waste to a disposal site in New Mexico later this week. The state and four environmental groups have been attempting to block the shipments, but a federal judge refused to issue an injunction postponing them. Thirty-six containers of highly radioactive waste from the Los Alamos National Laboratory will be sent to the site near Carlsbad, N.M, the Energy Department said.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the nation's leading universities, discriminated against female faculty members for years, an internal report found. The report, following a five-year investigation, said the school had shortchanged women teachers in such areas as salary, promotions, office space, and access to research funds. But it lauded administrators for taking corrective measures once the problems were uncovered.

A Cuban-American member of Congress wrote to each member of the Baltimore Orioles, urging him not to play in exhibition games against Cuba's national team. Rep. Robert Menendez (D) of New Jersey said Cuba violates players' rights and restricts their personal freedom. Two games are slated: March 28 in Havana and May 3 in Baltimore. Only pitcher Juan Guzman, so far has said he will not make the trip.

A lawsuit filed in federal court in Los Angeles alleges that the story on which the Academy Award-winning film "Shakespeare in Love" was based on was stolen from mystery novelist Faye Kellerman. Kellerman's suit claims the film was adapted from her 1989 novel, "The Quality of Mercy."

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