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News In Brief

The US

President Clinton greeted French President Chirac, calling France ''America's first ally,'' and welcomed its decision to re-enter NATO. Clinton's warm reception contrasted with that of several members of Congress, who called Chirac a hypocrite for advocating a nuclear-free world so soon after conducting six nuclear tests in the South Pacific. In a speech to Congress, Chirac said the tests aimed to assure France of its ''deterrent capability.''

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Inflation on the retail level last year was the lowest in a decade - 2.5 percent - the Labor Department said. It was the fourth consecutive year of below-4-percent inflation.

Credit card and home mortgage rates fell after the Federal Reserve cut the prime interest rate by a quarter point to 5.25. Buoyed by the move, the stock market jumped to new heights: 5,395.30 was Wednesday's close for the Dow Jones Industrial average. (Story, Page 1.)

GOP moderates took tax cuts out of their compromise balanced-budget plan, hoping the idea will break a logjam in budget talks. Under the plan, Congress would vote for a tax cut only after it reduced spending. The bill may not pass, but it shows GOP discomfort over the budget impasse.

Mideast peace talks in Maryland ended with the US mediator saying only that they laid ''a solid basis'' for Secretary of State Christopher's round of shuttle diplomacy starting next week.

Some 66 percent of Michigan residents support physician-assisted suicide, says a University of Michigan study. Some 56 percent of the state's doctors agree; 37 percent oppose the practice.

San Diego's teachers went on strike, saying they haven't received a raise in five years. San Diego is the state's second-largest school district and has 130,000 students.

The telecom reform bill was set to pass the House, where the GOP refused to change a key provision that Senator Dole opposes; it would give away, rather than sell, new digital-TV frequencies. Dole's opposition could stall the bill, which would allow telephone and cable firms to move into each others' businesses.

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The US expelled a record 31,500 criminal aliens in 1995. And Washington will give an unprecedented $87 million to 44 states to help pay prison costs for those still in the US.

Any Florida resident addicted to cigarettes or whose health has been damaged by smoking can join a lawsuit that seeks billions of dollars from cigarette makers, a federal appeals court ruled. The decision allows the lawsuit to proceed as a class-action claim and is a blow to the tobacco industry. The suit alleges that cigarette firms intentionally addicted smokers. R.J. Reynolds and Phillip Morris will appeal.

IBM will spend $743 million on Tivoli Systems Inc., a maker of systems-management software. IBM's interest underscores its shift away from reliance on mainframe computers. Separately, Novell Inc. said it will sell its WordPerfect division, which makes office-productivity software, to Corel Inc. in a $124 million deal. Novell, hoping to compete with Microsoft in desktop applications, had acquired WordPerfect for $885 million in 1994.

''The American people don't think it's the president's business to tell them what ought to happen in the congressional elections,'' Clinton said. The remark caused a small firestorm among Democrats, who expect support from him. The White House has since said Clinton will campaign ''aggressively'' with Democrats this fall, but the remark is seen as evidence of Clinton's ''triangulation'' strategy - taking a stance that's halfway between Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

The World

Excavation of three suspected mass graves near Jajce, in Bosnia, is expected to begin today under UN supervision. The digging was originally scheduled for spring, but recent flooding unearthed 46 bodies. And NATO disarmed and evicted a group of heavily armed Bosnian soldiers after they refused to leave a neutral zone outside Mostar. Also, the Bridge of Brotherhood and Unity opened, reuniting government and Serb-held areas in Sarajevo for the first time in four years. (Story, Page 1.)

Italy's President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro asked longtime bureaucrat Antonio Maccanico to form a new government. If Maccanico succeeds, he will head Italy's 55th government since World War II. Formation of a new government would also end three weeks of political stalemate following Lamberto Dini's resignation. The Italian lira rose in value upon the announcement.

The US announced it will suspend its diplomatic presence in Sudan. The US said it was not breaking relations but was concerned about the security of its diplomats. Earlier, the UN demanded Sudan extradite three suspects in the attempted assassination of Egyptian President Mubarak in Ethiopia. Sudan denied links to the attackers.

Three Colombian lawmakers began a hunger strike after demanding a new panel to investigate the Cali drug cartel's donations to President Ernesto Samper's election fund. The committee is dominated by members of Samper's own Liberal Party. (Story, Page 6.)

South Korea may pardon any business tycoons jailed for bribing a former president, analysts said. While dining with the chairmen of the Samsung and Daewoo groups, President Kim Young Sam expressed his regrets and told the businessmen not be demoralized. The gesture suggests possible political pardon, analysts said. Prosecutors had pushed for three- to four-year sentences for the men.

Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng has been nominated for the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize by 81 US congressmen. China said the jailed activist is a convicted criminal and does not qualify for such an honor. Other nominees include US peace envoy Richard Holbrooke and Soldier's Mothers, a Russian anti-war group. Meanwhile, China detained dozens of pro-independence activists in Inner Mongolia, a human rights group said. News of protests in remote Inner Mongolia - an autonomous region of China - rarely reaches the outside world.

About a million miners in Russia and Ukraine went on strike. They are demanding months of unpaid wages and disability benefits. The strike is seen as a potentially damaging blow to President Yeltsin. A nine-week strike by miners in 1991 weakened the authority of then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and boosted Yeltsin's popularity.

A jet bombed a commercial district in Kabul, Afghanistan, killing seven people and wounding dozens of others. The government said the aircraft belonged to the Taliban militia, a group of religious students who want to establish Islamic rule.

Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz replaced Jozef Oleksy as Poland's premier. He was asked to form a new government by President Alexander Kwasniewski. A former Communist, Cimoszewicz has 14 days to form a government. He was nominated by the ruling leftist coalition. Oleksy, who was accused of spying for Moscow, resigned last week after military prosecutors launched an investigation into the charges.

Catholic leaders in Northern Ireland must accept Britain's plan for elections, hard-line Protestant leader Ian Paisley said. Paisley met with British Prime Minister John Major to discuss the election idea. Neither would comment on the meeting. Meanwhile, Gerry Adams, head of the Irish Republican Army's political wing Sinn Fein, urged US support for the Irish peace talks while visiting Washington.


Astronomers in Hawaii detected the most distant galaxy ever observed some 14 billion light-years away from Earth in the constellation Virgo. It was found using the Keck Telescope, which is 390-inches in diameter.

A seven-year-old ''bookworm'' has opened a lending library in her playroom in her Denver home. It contains more than 700 of her books. She says kids in her neighborhood and school are welcome to come in and browse on Sunday afternoons.

President Clinton is asking reporters to find out the identity of the author of ''Primary Colors.'' Now No. 2 on The Wall Street Journal's book list for fiction, the novel is a barely fictitious account of his 1992 campaign.

Building a Child's Library

Parents' Choice, a nonprofit group providing consumer guidance on children's books, toys, videos, television, computer programs, etc., compiled this list of home reference books.

My First Atlas, by Bill Boyle, Dorling Kindersley, $15, Ages 3-7.

A Scholastic Kid's Encyclopedia: Transportation, by June English, Scholastic Reference, $17, Ages 7-up.

The World Almanac for Kids, World Almanac Books, $17, Ages 8-13.

The Oxford Children's Book of Famous People, Oxford Univ. Press, $35, Ages 9-up.

A History of Us: The Story of America, by Joy Hakim, Oxford Univ. Press, 10 vols., $99, $15 ea., Ages 9-up.

The Dorling Kindersley History of the World, by Plantagenet Fry, Dorling Kindersley, $40, Ages 9-up.

Smart Junior series (math, writing, words, grammar), The Princeton Review, Random House, $12 ea., Ages 9-13.

Biography Today, Omnigraphics, $47, Ages 10-up.

The Complete Atlas Of the World, by Keith Lye, Raintree Steck-Vaughn, $34, Ages 11-up.

The American Family Album series (Irish, Mexican, African), by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler, Oxford Univ. Press, $20 ea., Ages 11-up.

- Parents' Choice, (Newton, Mass.)

'' I just came to see if anybody I know will come across for a visit. We have no telephone connection, so there's no way to arrange anything. I'm just hoping to see someone I know.''

- A Sarajevo woman at one end of the Bridge of Brotherhood and Unity, which opened for the first time in four years.

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