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News In Brief

The World

The US dollar continued to decline against other major currencies. It hit another new low against the Japanese yen and slipped against the German mark. The British pound and French franc fell to new lows against the mark, but rebounded somewhat; the recently devalued Spanish peseta and Portuguese escudo also reached record lows against the German currency.

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The Mexican peso continued its tailspin amid political and economic uncertainty. A former high-level prosecutor is accused of a coverup in his brother's murder, the government has yet to detail its emergency economic plan, and members of the US Congress continue to attack the international bailout package.

Barings' new Dutch owner, ING Group, said clients and depositors would get their money back and predicted q quick comeback for the collapsed bank. Singapore's justice department charged that Barings trader Nicholas Leeson forged the name of a Wall Street stock trader to get a business loan from Citibank's Singapore office.

A fishing row between Canada and the European Union took a turn for the worse. Canada ordered Spanish and Portuguese fishermen to pull out of international waters off Canada's east coast and authorized its fisheries patrol to detain their vessels if they did not. Spain is sending a naval ship to defend its fleet.

German metalworkers and management announced an agreement to end a two-week strike. Workers will get a 4 percent pay increase.

Croatia and the Bosnian federation announced a new military alliance. The move puts new pressure on rebel Serbs in both countries and increased concerns that all-out war could erupt soon. UN, European, and US envoys continued peace efforts in Belgrade and Zagreb.

Marking International Women's Day, March 8, Amnesty International asked governments to adopt plans to protect women's rights. It called women the "invisible victims" of the world's wars. US first lady Hillary Clinton told the UN poverty summit in Copenhagen that she would announce an initiative to increase women's literacy and help more girls finish primary school. (Story, Page 13.)

Iran awarded an oil contract to US-based Conoco Inc. The $1 billion deal would be the first since the US severed ties with Tehran in 1980. The move came despite a growing movement in the US Congress to ban all trade with Iran.

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The US said it had enough Security Council votes to keep sanctions on Iraq. It said Baghdad has rebuilt plants that could produce chemical weapons and ballistic missiles. UN inspectors said the plants do not violate UN resolutions. Meanwhile, Iraq reported new fighting against rebel Kurds in the north. Observers say Baghdad may be trying to increase pressure to lift the UN sanctions.

US Secretary of State Christopher set off for the Middle East to try to jump-start the peace process. His task was complicated by fighting in Lebanon, where Israeli helicopters and artillery shelled pro-Iranian guerrillas and Israeli planes buzzed a Shiite neighborhood in Beirut. Meanwhile, Israeli-Arab talks began on repatriation of Palestinian refugees from the 1967 war. (Story, Page 7.)

A political crisis loomed in Moscow, where Mayor Luzhkov threatened to resign unless the city police chief and prosecutor were reinstated. Russia's interior minister had fired the two at President Yeltsin's urging after the murder of the popular state-television director.

China's labor minister said the country must find jobs for 160 million surplus rural workers and 20 million surplus workers at state enterprises. In Hong Kong, the government appointed Donald Tsang as financial secretary. He's the first Chinese to hold the post in 153 years. The US

Gov. George Pataki signed New York's death-penalty bill into law at a press conference. The Republican-controlled Assembly approved the bill 94 to 52 at 4:30 a.m. Pataki had announced his support for the death penalty during the election campaign. Former Gov. Mario Cuomo consistently vetoed bills reinstating it. (Story, Page 3.)

The House was expected to begin voting on several bills GOP backers say will limit frivolous lawsuits against business. But in a letter to Speaker Gingrich, Attorney General Reno said some of the GOP proposals "tilt the legal playing field dramatically to the disadvantage of consumers and middle-class citizens."

President Clinton, speaking to the National Association of Counties, underscored his support for welfare reform that protects children. House Republicans have crafted legislation that would cut spending for food stamps by $16 billion over the next five years. Critics of the GOP welfare reform say it punishes women and children while going easy on deadbeat parents. Defending the proposals, majority leader Armey said the current system "is abusing people."

The American Association of Retired People says GOP plans for Medicare savings would cost the average senior about $400 a year over the next five years. But an AARP official admits Medicare would still grow by 8 percent a year, even if Congress trims $150 billion over five years.

The Clinton administration is proposing changes in the Endangered Species Act to give more consideration to economic development. Among the proposals are exempting small landowners from the law, requiring more evidence to declare species endangered, and giving state and local officials a bigger role . (Story, Page 3.)

Senate majority leader Dole has asked two committee chairmen - Kassebaum of the Labor and Human Resources Committee and Bond of the Small Business Committee - to scrutinize affirmative-action programs under their jurisdictions. Under political pressure, President Clinton has also ordered a review, saying he wants to know which ones work and which don't.

Senator D'Amato of New York planned to announce his support for Senator Dole's 1996 presidential campaign, reports said. Dole, in turn, reportedly will name D'Amato to chair his campaign's national steering committee.

Mayor Barry of Washington signed an agreement Monday with the city firefighters' union that could save up to $4 million in overtime pay to help the city's $722 million budget gap for the year. The union was the only one to offer wage concessions to avert a 12 percent pay cut to all collective-bargaining workers beginning in April.

An independent panel is gearing up to launch a nationwide search for records dealing with the 1963 Kennedy assassination. With a 1995 budget of $2.15 million, the Assassination Records Review Board hopes to dispel notions of a coverup.

About 800 inmates were involved in a two-hour riot sparked by racial tensions at the Briscoe State Prison in south Texas March 6. Three prisoners were hurt during fighting between black and Hispanic inmates.

Almost 10 years after Philadelphia police bombed a rowhouse to flush out members of a radical commune, killing 11 people when a blaze raged out of control, a federal appeals court has sharply limited the sole survivor's lawsuit against the city. The court ruled the city, but not individual city officials, can be sued over the deaths and damage caused by dropping a bomb on MOVE headquarters in 1985. Etcetera

Boston College decided not to grant former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher its Ignatius Medal after she told the university she couldn't attend the ceremony. A group of Irish priests and Irish-Americans had protested the award. A spokesman said the college would honor Thatcher some other way later this year.

The New China News Agency says a 10-year-research project on high-altitude bamboo will benefit the 1,000 pandas left in the wild. Experts will be able to lengthen the life of the bamboo, the panda's staple food, and delay its flowering period. The bamboo withers and dies about every 10 years, depriving the pandas of food.

The nonprofit Center for Communications gave its annual Communications Award to John Johnson, the publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines. Johnson launched Negro Digest magazine 60 years ago with $500 he made from selling his mother's furniture. "I did pay it back," the chairman of Johnson Publishing Company said.

A package from New York to Washington finally arrived - 25 years late. Mailed in July 1969, it contained three reels of the 1954 movie "On the Waterfront." A Postal Service spokesman said such things don't occur often, but when they do, "We have the same question: Where was it?" Top-Grossing Films Last Weekend in the US(Preliminary figures) 1. "Man of the House," $9.2 million. 2. "Brady Bunch," $5.9 million. 3. "Hideaway," $5.3 million. 4. "Just Cause," $4.9 million. 5. "Roommates," $4 million. 6. "Forrest Gump," $2.1 million. 7. "Pulp Fiction," $2.08 million. 8. "Billy Madison," $1.9 million. 8. "Legends of the Fall,'' $1.9 million. 10. "Heavyweights," $1.7 million.

- Associated Press

``We are proud of the Barings name.... ING and Barings is a superb combination. Give us a few months to prove that."

-Aad Jacobs, chairman of ING Group

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