News In Brief

Public support for the air war over Kosovo has slipped 9 percent since early April, results of a new poll indicated. The ABC News/Washington Post survey found 59 percent of Americans supporting air strikes, the lowest number since the first week of bombardment. Thirty-eight percent opposed the campaign, the highest level since the air war began. Approval of President Clinton's handling of the Kosovo crisis, which stood at 60 percent in early April, slipped to 53 percent.

The US unveiled an initiative to help Albania house twice as many refugees as it does now. Agency for International Development administrator Brian Atwood said families in Albania agreeing to take refugees will receive a package of household items - including mattresses, blankets, clothing, and washing supplies - plus an increase in monthly food rations. A UN relief agency already gives the families a monthly stipend. In addition, the US may finance repairs of some 4,000 Albanian buildings for use as shelters, Atwood said.

Former Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker was ordered to return $1 million to the US government, pay a $6,000 fine, and serve four years probation. The sentencing in Little Rock came more than a year after Tucker pleaded guilty to conspiring to evade taxes on the sale of a Florida cable-TV company. Tucker was first convicted of multiple fraud counts in 1996 along with Susan and James McDougal, who were the Clintons' investment partners in the failed Whitewater land deal.

Amnesty International urged Americans to abolish the death penalty, citing a new study that indicates racial discrimination pervades the criminal-justice system. The report says blacks who kill whites are 11 times more likely to face death sentences than whites who kill blacks.

Ronald Jones became the 12th Illinois death-row inmate exonerated in the last 12 years. Prosecutors dropped charges against Jones, who was sentenced to die for raping and stabbing to death Debra Smith in 1985. He confessed in 1987, but later claimed police beat the confession out of him. He was on death row eight years before DNA tests supported his denial of guilt.

Makah Indians killed their first gray whale in more than 70 years, concluding off the coast of Washington State a week-long hunt that they hope will reinvigorate their cultural traditions. The Makah, who claim whaling rights under a US treaty dating back to the 1800s, had not killed a whale since the 1920s, when the practice was banned after gray whales were hunted nearly to extinction by commercial whalers. Gray whales were removed from the US endangered-species list in 1994.

Teamsters Union members overwhelmingly authorized a strike if contract talks break down with 17 US trucking companies that haul most of the nation's new vehicles to dealerships, officials said. The current contract expires at midnight May 31. A union spokesman said wages, job security, and health insurance were among issues complicating negotiations in Arlington, Va.

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