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News In Brief

The US

First Lady Hillary Clinton wants to go to China for the UN women's conference that begins in two weeks. But China's continued detention of American Harry Wu and its slow response to visa and hotel requests from would-be attendees have heightened calls for her to stay home in protest. She is expected to decide this week. Senators Dole and Lugar said Sunday she shouldn't go.

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Microsoft and the Justice Department were expected to try, for the second time, to convince a federal judge yesterday to approve an antitrust deal hammered out over four years. Microsoft agreed to alter contracts with computer manufacturers that allegedly shut out competitors. The Justice Department agreed not to press antitrust charges. Meanwhile, consumers are ready to line up for copies of Microsoft's Windows 95. Some stores plan to stay open past midnight tomorrow so enthusiasts can buy copies early Thursday - the official launch day.

The Federal Reserve Board was expected to meet today. But with inflation steady and economic growth picking up, few believed it would lower interest rates. Since the Fed cut rates July 6, the economy improved overall.

The CIA used a terrorist-turned-informant to track down the infamous terrorist, Carlos the Jackal. But the informant was instrumental in two 1980s bombings in Europe in which Americans were wounded, the New York Times reported yesterday. The sticky dilemma of using informants with dubious backgrounds has caused the CIA to review its policies. The agency refused to comment. Unnamed sources said the CIA would likely hire the same informant again today but criticized it for not alerting the Justice Department to the situation.

Dr. Kevorkian attended his 25th assisted suicide yesterday, his lawyer said. Kevorkian advocates physician-assisted suicide for those termed terminally ill. The Michigan Supreme Court ruled in 1994 the Constitution does not give people the right to commit suicide. And since the US Supreme Court refused to consider Kevorkian's appeal, new charges against him are possible.

Pharmaceutical giants Upjohn and Sweden-based Pharmacia A.B. announced a $13-billion merger Monday. The new firm will be the world's ninth largest drug company. It is a sign of hot competition in the industry.

Judge Ito was expected to begin hearings yesterday on whether to allow the O.J. Simpson jury to see taped interviews with detective Mark Fuhrman in which he makes racial slurs. The defense says Fuhrman is a racist who wouldn't be above planting evidence to incriminate Simpson. Based on past rulings, Ito may allow the jury to see only scenes directly relevant to the case.

The AFL-CIO launched a $1 million ad campaign in 26 congressional districts Sunday. The ads derided GOP plans to cut OSHA's workplace-safety enforcement budget by 33 percent. Labor says decreased OSHA funds will lead to fewer inspections and lower employer compliance. The ad campaign is part of interim AFL-CIO president Thomas Donahue's attempt to shore up support for this fall's hotly contested union elections.

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Alabama chain gangs have been so efficient at cleaning up roadways and digging ditches, that state officials have decided to use them for more strenuous labor. For the first time since the 1960s, inmates are crushing rocks into road gravel with sledgehammers. Critics and inmates have filed suit, saying the chains violate civil rights. Florida and Arizona have started their own programs. Michigan and Wisconsin are setting them up.

Air China agreed to buy as many as 15 new Boeing 777s Monday. The order, which is subject to Beijing's approval, is worth up to $1.9 billion. European-based Airbus Industries had hoped to get the bid by seizing on strained Sino-US ties.

Archer Daniels Midland said Mark Whitacre, a former executive-turned federal informant, took $9 million from the firm, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The World

Israeli Prime Minister Rabin suspended final negotiations with the PLO over control of the West Bank yesterday after a bomb blew apart a commuter bus in Jerusalem. Five people were killed, more than 100 wounded. An anonymous caller claimed the suicide attack was carried out by the militant group Hamas. The Israeli Army closed access to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. On Sunday, Rabin rejected calls to investigate allegations of Israeli war crimes against Egyptian prisoners of war. And he ordered an immediate solution to a water shortage that has left Palestinian homes in Hebron without running water. (Story, Page 7.)

The meeting of the five-nation ''contact group'' on Bosnia scheduled to discuss today new US peace proposals was postponed following the death of three US peace negotiators in an accident outside Sarajevo Saturday. The negotiators were to have met officials from Russia, Britain, France, and Germany in Geneva to brief them on their diplomacy in the Balkans. A US diplomatic team headed home from Bosnia with the bodies of the three men. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke called the men irreplaceable, but efforts are under way to create a new team.

Iraqi President Hussein's plan to attack Saudi Arabia and Kuwait this month was aborted when a top aide, Lt. Gen Hussein Kamel Hassan, defected to Jordan, he claims. Hassan headed Iraq's clandestine weapons program. His statement could not be confirmed. Rolf Ekeus, UN envoy in charge of eliminating Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, arrived in Jordan for talks with Kamel Hassan yesterday. Also, US Assistant Secretary of State Robert Pelletreau met in Kuwait yesterday with the emir.

Rescuers cut through the remains of two Indian trains yesterday while police sought the signalman blamed for India's worst-ever train wreck. It occurred outside Firozabad station in northern India. At least 335 people were killed, 500 injured.

France supplied ammunition to the Hutu-dominated Rwandan army during the genocide carried out by Hutu soldiers and militias last year, a BBC TV program said Sunday. The French foreign ministry called the report false.

Imprisoned leaders of the Cali cartel are ruling their drug empire from jail while dining on caviar and lobster, Colombia's largest newspaper reported Sunday. Gourmet food and fancy communications equipment found in a house near La Modelo prison were to be smuggled to Cali leaders inside, police said.

Voters rejected the Kremlin-backed gubernatorial candidate in Yeltsin's home district yesterday,. The race may be a bellweather for December parliamentary elections. Russian troops and Chechen rebels squared off near Grozny yesterday after rebels stormed a police station, threatening a peace pact.

The head of a Tibetan Buddhist search team for a successor to the Panchen Lama has been hospitalized for more than four months, a Chinese official for Tibetan affairs said yesterday. He denied reports the abbot was being detained. Beijing criticized the Dali Lama's announcement of a successor in May without its approval, and says he is trying to split Tibet from China. Also, organizers of a women's conference in China say some NGOs are cancelling their trips because of visa problems. China has been accused of discriminating against human rights advocates.

Time is running out for peace in Northern Ireland, the head of the Irish Roman Catholic church told the BBC yesterday. Cardinal Cahal Daly urged Britain to hold talks with Sinn Fein.


Monica Seles topped off an impressive tennis comeback Sunday by cruising past South Africa's Amanda Coetzer 6-0, 6-1 in the finals of the Canadian Open in Toronto.

More than 1,000 surfers formed a chain along the French Atlantic coast Sunday to protest pollution of the sea. The demonstration occurred at the world surfing championships at Lacanau.

Filmmakers working in Minnesota on a sequel to ''Grumpy Old Men'' are looking for a big star with gills. (No, not Kevin Costner.) They're offering $500 for a live flathead catfish weighing more than 60 pounds, to back up a 55-pound fish already on hand. The state record for catfish is 70 pounds. ''Grumpier Old Men'' will again star Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau.

Top-Grossing Films, Aug. 18-20

(Preliminary figures)

1. ''Mortal Kombat,'' $23 million

2. ''Dangerous Minds,'' $10 million

3. ''A Walk in the Clouds,'' $7.65 million

4. ''Something to Talk About,'' $5.7 million

5. ''Waterworld,'' $5.3 million

6. ''Babe,'' $5.1 million

7. ''Apollo 13,'' $3.8 million

8. ''The Net,'' $3.7 million

9. ''The Baby-Sitters Club,'' $3.6 million

10. ''A Kid in King Arthur's Court,'' $2.4 million

- Associated Press

'' I want to stress that we have 12 months of peace.

I think we have an opportunity now, and it's slipping through our hands.''

- the primate of all Ireland, Cardinal Cahal Daly, urging London to return to talks with the IRA's Sinn Fein

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