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News In Brief

The US

Despite signs the economy may be sputtering toward a modest recession, Federal Reserve chairman Greenspan does not appear ready to push back interest rates. He said a downturn could be nothing more than some jarring bumps on the way to smoother, more sustainable growth. Greenspan's remarks dampened hopes that he will recommend the Fed cut interest rates in July.

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The April trade deficit in goods and services shot up to a record $11.4 billion as sales overseas faltered and imports of cars - including those from Japan - and other goods increased, the Commerce Department reported.

The Supreme Court extended the ordeal of US trial judge Robert Aguilar, the only judge to sit on the federal bench as a convicted felon. The high court found Aguilar innocent of obstructing a grand jury but guilty of exposing a federal wiretap, a criminal offense. The court also said lawyers can be barred from seeking clients by contacting accident victims or their families by mail within 30 days of the injury.

The Senate voted to turn back a 20-year-old law establishing a national speed limit on cars. But it voted to keep the federal speed limits for trucks and buses. The House has yet to consider the bill, but sentiment runs in favor of reducing federal requirements.

Lawyers for the two suspects in the Oklahoma City bombing case reportedly want separate trials because their clients were not equally involved, USA Today reported. The House Judiciary Committee approved 23 to 12 an antiterrorism bill pushed by President Clinton.

Legislation to lift the 14-year moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling passed a House subcommittee, its first hurdle. Clinton, environmentalists, and some Republicans oppose the measure.

Leaders of the American Medical Association said Congress can save Medicare by introducing the competition and incentives that health-care reformers outlined a year ago.

A conservative think tank founded by Senator Dole in 1993 will return about $2.5 million in contributions to major US companies and wealthy individuals, the Washington Post reported. As a tax-exempt foundation, Better America had no limits on the size of gifts, and no donor was disclosed to the Federal Election Commission.

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The House ethics committee cautioned House Speaker Gingrich that congressional travel restrictions will apply to his planned 25-day book tour. Gingrich had asked the panel for an advisory ruling.

NASA began a countdown Tuesday for a second joint mission with Russia - to dock the shuttle Atlantis with the Mir space station - nearly two decades after the US and Russia first linked up in orbit. Atlantis is poised for liftoff tomorrow, but a helium gas leak was discovered and a delay is possible.

Leaders of the American Association of Retired Persons, at Senate Finance Committee hearings, defended both their tax exemption and their lucrative business ties against Senator Simpson's charges of abuse.

The Southern Baptist Convention asked forgiveness for condoning racism for most of its 150 years. The organization's president, James Henry, said there's still more work to be done.

Thirty-four high school and college students from across the US said they are going ahead with plans to visit Cuba, despite threats by federal officials to fine or imprison them. The group did not apply for a waiver of the US ban on travel to Cuba.

Henry Foster's bid to become surgeon general reached the Senate floor with opponents confident they would have the votes to kill the nomination.

Clinton was prepared to announce the nomination yesterday of White House aide Mark Gearan as the next director of the Peace Corps.

The World

The Kremlin launched a manhunt yesterday for rebels who disappeared into the hills of southern Chechnya after releasing the last of about 2,000 hostages. The 150 Russian hostages who accompanied the Chechen fighters across southern Russia returned home. With the freeing of the captives, a three-day truce went into effect in the breakaway republic. Peace talks - one of the gunmen's key demands - resumed in Grozny. Russian officials, however, said Moscow would reserve the right to renew hostilities in Chechnya unless Chechen leaders hand over the leaders of the attack on Budyonnovsk. In Moscow, Russia's parliament strongly rebuked President Yeltsin's government, approving a motion of no-confidence for its handling of the hostage crisis. (Story, Page 6.)

A Japanese airliner with 365 people aboard was hijacked on a domestic flight yesterday. The one confirmed hijacker, apparently linked to the sect accused of unleashing nerve gas on the Tokyo subway in March, threatened to blow up the Boeing 747 if it was not refueled. He demanded that the plane be flown back to Tokyo and rejected requests to free some passengers and negotiate directly with the police. The hijacker was calling for the release of jailed sect leader Shoko Asahara.

Tank shells exploded near a market in central Sarajevo yesterday, and the Bosnian Serb commander claimed his troops had stopped a government offensive to crack the city's 38-month siege. About 600 Canadian peacekeeping troops are being detained by Muslim forces in central Bosnia, a Canadian military spokesman said yesterday. The Bosnian government army, which is guarding the peacekeepers' camp, has not explained why it is holding the troops, he said. The EU's new peace envoy, Carl Bildt, said yesterday his first visit to the former Yugoslavia was no more than a fact-finding mission. (A Sarajevo family, Page 1.)

Angered by the Shell oil company's decision to drop plans to sink an unwanted rig in the Atlantic, Britain warned the multinational yesterday that it might not be allowed to dismantle the oil storage platform onshore in Britain. In a dramatic turnaround, just hours before it was to dump the rig, Shell abandoned its plans in the wake of pressure from Greenpeace activists and Dutch and German boycotts of its products. (Story, Page 6.)

North and South Korea signed a deal yesterday under which Seoul will deliver 150,000 tons of rice to the North free of charge. Negotiators from both sides had been holding talks on the issue in Beijing since last Saturday. A spokesman said the two would meet again in July to discuss additional rice shipments.

Taiwanese Prime Minister Lien Chan met Czech President Vaclav Havel yesterday in Prague despite fierce opposition from China. China withdrew a State Education Commission delegation visiting the Czech Republic, canceled the signing of a Sino-Czech cooperation agreement, and indicated the possibility of further sanctions.

A boy was killed and 26 people were injured when a Philippine Army ammunition dump exploded, triggering fears of a rebel attack. Explosions damaged Army buildings and houses near a warehouse in Zamboanga where condemned artillery and mortar rounds were kept. The Army denied the explosions were caused by a rebel attack.

Leftist Sandinista protesters fired homemade mortars at a special session of Nicaragua's parliament as part of protests to stop legislators from making constitutional changes. Riot police were deployed to block the protesters and seal off the convention center where National Assembly deputies were forced to meet because their parliament building has been occupied since Thursday by another group of Sandinistas.


Internet cruisers will be able to turn to a new NASA home page to monitor the scheduled rendezvous of the shuttle Atlantis and the Russian space station Mir. The page will feature five pictures of the Mir station to help illustrate the technically difficult US-Russian handshake in space.

It's a debate about how cold is cold enough. The Denver Zoo wants to send two polar bear cubs to Sea World in Orlando, Fla. But the US Humane Society says that would be inhumane. Although the controlled climate at the Orlando exhibit would be chilled to 50 degrees, and the air would be 65 to 70, that's not cold enough, the society says. An Orlando official counters that polar bears don't need winter to survive.

In a private ceremony at Windsor Castle, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger received an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II. Because Kissinger is an American, he did not have to kneel and be tapped on the shoulder by the monarch. For the same reason, he is not entitled to use "sir" as a title.

No one will confuse the old Boston Garden with new one. The arena has 36 concession stands instead of 14; five levels of parking instead of none; and, perhaps best of all, air conditioning.

The Home PC: What $1,800 Will Buy

1995 2000


Pentium fifth- generation Eighth- generation


60 MHz 600 MHz


8 megabytes 64 megabytes


420 megabytes 8,320 megabytes


14-inch low- 14-inch higher-

quality color quality color

monitor monitor

CD-ROM drive

Double-speed Six-speed

Outside link

Fax modem at Built-in network

14,400 bits per connection

second at up to

100 million bps

- The Wall Street Journal

" The Fed is not a speedboat, it's a cruise liner."

- Market strategist Jay Goldinger, speculating that the Fed will postpone an interest-rate cut

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