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News In Brief

The US

President Clinton and Vice President Gore led an all-day Pacific Rim economic conference in Portland, Ore. Clinton said he would stand firm on his vow to impose sanctions on Japanese luxury cars unless Japan adopts trade rules acceptable to "the rest of us." Today is the deadline for an agreement by negotiators in Geneva. In an effort to speed up the removal of trade barriers in the Asia-Pacific region, the US also has set out a major action plan for November's APEC summit meeting in Osaka, Japan, a Singapore newspaper said.

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Consumers are turning sour on the economy. The Conference Board, a business research group, said its June index of consumer confidence is showing its sharpest loss in two years. The group found survey respondents more bearish about current conditions and significantly less optimistic about the months ahead.

Senator Dole accused the White House of distorting information on his regulatory reform bill and said he was surprised by a threat to veto the measure. Clinton has his own regulations-reform program. A Dole spokesman, meanwhile, said Clinton's new TV ads on gun control and crime are designed to scare people but only show how "scared candidate Clinton" is. The White House said the ads are to head off a Dole effort to repeal a ban on some assault-style weapons. Dole had made this promise to the National Rifle Association but pulled back after the Oklahoma City bombing.

The House was scheduled to vote today on a constitutional amendment against flag burning.

Congressman Laughlin of Texas became the fourth Democrat to switch to the GOP since the party took control of Congress, giving Republicans a 232-to-202 majority.

Senator Packwood met behind closed doors with the Senate Ethics Committee to rebut its findings that he may be guilty of sexual harassment and of hindering the panel's investigation. The latter is a violation of federal law, carrying a maximum five-year prison term.

The Senate agreed to expand a program that lets seniors get Medicare benefits at reduced cost by agreeing to restrictions on the doctors they use. The House is expected to take final action on the bill this week. A Heritage Foundation report said Congress should require the administration to mail notices to America's elderly. advising them of the dire financial troubles facing Medicare.

Kirk Kerkorian plans to spend $700 million to increase his stake in Chrysler Corp., less than a month after he lost a hostile bid to buy the company.

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United HealthCare Corp. Inc. said it would pay $1.65 billion to buy out MetraHealth Cos. in a deal that would create the largest US provider of health care plans. The buyout, which is subject to approval by regulators, would shift millions of people away from traditional health plans toward managed care.

Participation in the federally funded summer-meals program is growing modestly, but fewer than 1 in 5 children who receive a free or reduced-price lunch at school is being fed during the summer, a Food Research and Action Center study showed.

After five months of presenting evidence, the prosecution was to wrap up its case yesterday in the New York trial of 11 suspected terrorists. The accused are charged with conspiring in 1993 to bomb the UN and other New York landmarks. The first defense witness, Ramzi Yousef, is the suspected mastermind behind the World Trade Center bombing.

Education groups nationwide joined Brown University in its fight against a federal court decision that would force it to expand programs for women athletes. Three education groups representing 1,700 colleges and universities filed a friend-of-the-court brief agreeing with Brown's brief, which argues that the decision would force it to implement a quota system.

Shuttle Atlantis was set for launch yesterday.

The World

EU mediator Bildt said yesterday he believes war is more likely than peace in the near future in Bosnia. After talks with EU leaders at their semi-annual summit, Bildt condemned as "savagery" the shelling of civilians and said the threat of future military acton was not conducive to creating an atmosphere for peace negotiations. Bosnian Serb leader Karadzic, meanwhile, rejected Germany's involvement in a UN rapid reaction force and indicated he wants new peace talks. He spoke a day after EU leaders endorsed a five-point "action plan" detailing military and diplomatic goals in Bosnia. The EU plan reportedly calls for a cease-fire, a demand that Bosnian Serbs lift their siege of Sarajevo, creation of a safe corridor for aid to reach the capital, and a reopening of the Sarajevo airport.

EU leaders in Cannes, France, agreed to step up joint efforts to create jobs and set an end-of-year deadline for resolving their differences over a common currency. Hard decisions on fighting unemployment and the precise timetable and details of creating a monetary union were postponed until the next full-scale summit in Madrid in December.

John Redwood, the ex-Cabinet minister challenging British Prime Minister Major for the Conservative Party leadership, prepared to set out his platform yesterday as the news media said support for Major was faltering. Redwood pledged some surprises as he sought to extend his support across the deeply divided party. Major will remain prime minister until the ballot. Should he lose, however, he will be expected to hand over the post to his successor as party leader.

US President Clinton is expected to make a statement at the White House today on the US dispute with Japan over trade in cars and car parts. He will make the announcement whether or not negotiations in Geneva succeed in striking a deal to open the Japanese markets to US and other foreign competition, trade sources said. Japanese officials said if the US issues trade sanctions against their country, Japan would likely retaliate by targeting American agriculture. Yesterday Japan unveiled steps to jump-start its flagging economy and cheer its stock market, but economists said the measures seemed to be aimed mostly at winning votes in elections next month.

Russian President Yeltsin held further crisis talks to head off a confrontation between the government and parliament. Yeltsin said parliamentary faction leaders pledged support for a confidence vote in the government on Saturday if he fired so-called "power ministers," Itar-Tass news agency reported.

Jewish settlers grabbed more land in the occupied West Bank in an effort to block the expansion of Palestinian self-rule. Israel and the Palestinians have set Saturday as the deadline for reaching agreement on implementing the second stage of a 1993 peace deal: Palestinian elections and an Israel troop deployment from West Bank towns. Israeli and Syrian military leaders, meanwhile, met in Washington to resume peace talks. Hundreds of Palestinians, released last year from Israeli jails and banned by Israel from returning to the West Bank, stepped up demands for an end to their exile and the release of 5,000 Palestinians still in Israeli jails.

Qatari Crown Prince al-Thani ousted his father in a bloodless palace coup yesterday and was named emir of the small Gulf oil state. The move appeared to go smoothly and to have the backing of the ruling al-Thani family, whose members pledged allegiance to the new emir.

Thousands of Egyptians flooded President Mubarak's palace yesterday to pledge their allegiance after he escaped an assassination attempt in Ethiopia. Iraq said there would be further attempts on Mubarak's life.


Ford Motor Co. said it will test a radiator-catalyst system its inventor says could make cars and trucks "pollution eaters" rather than smog makers. Inventor Engelhard Corp. hopes to sell the system as a gas-powered alternative to electric and natural gas-powered cars. If the tests are successful, the system could be available in some cities by 1998.

Cuban TV will depart from its usual spartan fare during summer vacation, doubling its transmission time with offerings ranging from "Lassie" to "Jurassic Park." The Communist Party newspaper noted that the new schedule involved a "great effort" because Cuba's two state-run stations are short on resources.

European ministers vowed to do more to help men exercise their right to a full family life. The Council of Europe, which organized a three-day conference on family affairs in Helsinki, urged governments and fathers to take more action to boost men's involvement in the family. Efforts to increase flexibility in the workplace are essential, the group said.

A painting by French Impressionist Claude Monet of Rouen Cathedral fetched $11.99 million at a Christie's auction in London. It was the highest price paid at a London auction for an Impressionist or modern painting in three years. It also was an auction record for a Monet Rouen Cathedral work.

Top-Grossing Films In the US and Canada, June 23-25

(Preliminary figures)

1. "Pocahontas," $30.5 million

2. "Batman Forever," $28.2 million

3. "Congo," $7.7 million

4. "The Bridges of Madison County," $5.9 million

5. "Casper," $4.4 million

6. "Braveheart," $4.0 million

7. "Die Hard With a Vengeance," $3.6 million

8. "Crimson Tide," $3.1 million

9. "Forget Paris," $1.9 million

10. "While You Were Sleeping," $1.5 million

- Associated Press

" There's no escape into this right-wing ideology or these simple solutions."

- Chancellor of the Exchequer Kenneth Clarke, dismissing a challenge to British Prime Minister Major's leadership

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