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News In Brief

The US

After five days of whizzing around Earth under the flags of two nations, shuttle Atlantis and space station Mir separated yesterday with a gentle push and moved into their own orbits again. But first, two Russian cosmonauts left Mir in a small Soyuz transport ship to record the undocking. In turn, Atlantis made its own circular flight to photograph the Soyuz reattachment to Mir. There will be six more shuttle-to-Mir dockings leading toward building an international space station. Atlantis is expected to return to earth Friday with Astronaut Thagard, who has been on Mir for nearly four months. (Story, Page 3; Editorial, Page 20.)

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Federal Reserve policymakers meet today and tomorrow to decide whether to aid the weakening economy by cutting interest rates. Some economic data suggest increased risk of recession and job loss, while some indicate that the economy has slowed just enough to check the risks of inflation and could rebound without a rate cut. Americans' income in May slipped for the first time in a year, but consumer spending rose 0.7 percent from April, the Commerce Department said. Construction spending fell 1.5 percent in May. Manufacturing slowed somewhat in June, the National Association of Purchasing Management said. (Federal Reserve, Page 1.)

Democrats will continue to try to stall Republican budget-balancing initiatives to force more debate on what's at stake, Congressman Gephardt said.

Legislation to alter rules on food safety will be considered by Congress over the next few weeks, the New York Times reported. The changes also would limit the federal government's authority to regulate health and the environment, reducing the burden on business to prove that food is safe, the Times said.

Growing evidence suggests that China may have supplied Pakistan with M-11 medium-range missiles, a US official told the Washington Post. But the US still lacks incontrovertible evidence, the source said. If such a deal is confirmed, the US would be required by a 1990 law to impose sanctions on China, including termination of US government contracts.

President Clinton will likely move to establish diplomatic relations with Vietnam before the Senate passes a resolution calling for such a step, Senator Harkin said. Harkin added that human-rights abuses will continue to be a serious US concern. He was in Hanoi with a delegation of US Democrats.

The Pentagon has worked out a plan to try to preserve 11,000 jobs at California's McClellan Air Force Base, the New York Times reported. The plan, which would allow private contractors in California to do work now done at McClellan, alters a base-closure proposal awaiting Clinton's approval. The deal, which was negotiated by the military, the White House, and the base-closure commission, would save face for Clinton, who needs to carry California in the 1996 presidential race. Clinton must act on the package by July 15.

Shannon Faulkner toured the women's college where South Carolina wants to establish a leadership program that would keep her out of the all-male Citadel. Faulkner reiterated her desire to attend the Citadel as a cadet instead. Faulkner was joined on the tour by the US district judge who must decide whether to admit her to the all-male military academy.

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In the Oklahoma City bombing investigation, the FBI has reportedly linked weapons stolen in Arkansas last November to suspects in the case. Agents are trying to tie bombing suspects Terry Nichols and Timothy McVeigh to a criminal act that preceded the bombing.

The government gained a valuable ally in its prosecution in Miami of US lawyers for the Cali cocaine cartel when a former federal prosecutor pleaded guilty to reduced charges and agreed to cooperate. Donald Ferguson pleaded guilty to conspiring to obstruct justice and to money laundering.

House Speaker Gingrich said he would make a final decision on his candidacy for president in December but that only a "vacuum" would lead him to run.

The World

Prime Minister Major faced ex-cabinet minister John Redwood yesterday in a head-to-head contest for the leadership of the ruling party. As the 329 Conservative members of parliament began voting, both sides tried to woo the undecided by warning that the wrong result would guarantee defeat at the next election and end the party's 16-year hold on power. Major was expected to gain a technical victory by securing at least 165 votes and running 50 ahead of Redwood.

Two French peacekeepers were wounded when Serbs fired tank and anti-aircraft cannon rounds at a UN convoy bringing food to Sarajevo, the UN said. The attack Monday night was the fourth in one day against UN vehicles using the Mount Igman route, the only available land link with government-held Sarajevo. Meanwhile, the first detachment of US logistical troops arrived in Split yesterday to prepare the ground for a UN rapid-reaction force. (Croatia, Page 6.)

Chinese-American dissident Harry Wu violated Chinese law by "sneaking into China" and snooping in areas off-limits to foreigners, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said. He declined to say when US officials would be able to see Wu, where is being held, or when he might be charged. Wu was detained when he tried to enter China from Kazakhstan June 19. The State Department protested to China that it provided misleading information on Wu's whereabouts. (Opinion, Page 19.)

Israeli Foreign Minister Peres and PLO leader Arafat were to resume talks yesterday in Gaza on widening Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank. Israel and the PLO missed a July 1 deadline for reaching an accord on Israeli redeployment in the area because of disagreements over security. Lower-level Israel-PLO meetings are to resume today in Cairo. Meanwhile, Syria yesterday rejected Israel's calls to curb Lebanese attacks on Israeli troops in south Lebanon and renewed its backing for the Lebanese resistance.

President Yeltsin officially sanctioned the permanent deployment of Russian troops in Chechnya yesterday, a step critics feared could threaten the fragile peace there. Several months ago, he declared the military stage of the operation in Chechnya over.

South Korean relief ships set sail for North Korea yesterday after the government decided to resume emergency food aid to the impoverished North. Seoul earlier suspended shipments of rice pending the resolution of a dispute in which the first South Korean relief ship was forced to fly a North Korean flag while in the North's port. South Korea renewed the shipments after North Korea apologized.

A group seeking to install Islamic rule in Egypt claimed yesterday that it carried out last week's assassination attempt on President Mubarak and pledged to try again to kill him. There was no way to authenticate the the claim. Nor was there any explanation of why the al-Gamaa al-Islamiya group issued the statement more than a week after the attack.

Rioting by IRA supporters continued over the release of a British soldier jailed for killing a Belfast woman. Britain freed Lee Clegg following a campaign by Army officers and British newspapers against his life sentence.

Less than a week after resolving an auto dispute, the Clinton administration said it would investigate charges by Eastman Kodak Co. that Japanese rival Fuji Photo Co. was unfairly limiting access to Japan's market. Japanese police, meanwhile, discovered a bag containing suspected cyanide gas in a Tokyo subway station yesterday.

A court hearing to decide whether former Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi should stand trial on corruption charges opened yesterday. Berlusconi is charged with bribery by Milan's "Clean Hands" magistrates.


A battle is brewing at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., over whether to memorialize alumni who died fighting for the South in the Civil War. The debate was rekindled by a multimillion-dollar renovation of Harvard's Memorial Hall, which was built five years after the war. One-third of Harvard alumni who fought in the Civil War fought on the side of the Confederacy, but the deed for Memorial Hall says their names can't be displayed there. An alumni panel is studying the issue.

Singapore has long implored its citizens to be nice. Soon, it may tell them how. The government launched its annual National Courtesy Month this week. A National Courtesy Council will commission an academic organization to determine accepted norms of courtesy for next year's campaign.

Beachgoers and other outdoor enthusiasts are facing what is believed to be the country's first smoking ban at outdoor municipal recreation areas. The regulation bans smoking at all ballfields, parks, and public beaches in Sharon, Mass. Smokers must light up on the street or in parking lots or face a $25 fine.

Top 10 Bestsellers, Hardcover Fiction

1. "Rose Madder," Stephen King (Viking)

2. "The Rainmaker," John Grisham (Doubleday)

3. "The Bridges of Madison County," Robert James Waller (Warner)

4. "The Celestine Prophecy," James Redfield (Warner)

5. "The Apocalypse Watch," Robert Ludlum (Bantam)

6. "Ladder of Years," Anne Tyler (Knopf)

7. "Let Me Call You Sweetheart," Mary Higgins Clark (Simon & Schuster)

8. "Once Upon a More Enlightened Time," James Finn Garner (Macmillan)

9. "Politically Correct Bedtime Stories," James Finn Garner (Macmillan)

10. "Of Love and Demons," Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Knopf)

- Publishers Weekly

" They [Conservative MPs] do not want to fall like lemmings into the abyss which would open up before us if John Major is not elected convincingly back to the leadership of our party."

- British Interior Minister Michael Howard

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