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News In Brief

The US

Iowa was the last straw for Sen. Phil Gramm, who planned to announce yesterday that he is quitting the presidential race, Republican sources said. Once considered Senator Dole's top challenger, he placed poorly in the Iowa and Louisiana caucuses. He was running in single digits in New Hampshire polls. (Story, Page 1.)

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President Clinton planned to visit Wilkes Barre, Penn., today to survey flood damage from melting snows. He also declared several counties in Vermont disaster areas, and toured flood-ravaged Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, where he asked flood victims whether federal relief efforts are sufficient.

Key Republicans are blocking a Clinton administration plan to give Jordan 16 fighters and other military hardware. Reps. Bob Livingston, Bill Young, and Sonny Callahan say Congress is trying to balance the budget, and the president should consult with Congress before promising gifts to foreign governments.

A lawyer who visited the White House near the time that Hillary Rodham Clinton's billing records reappeared was set to be questioned by the Senate Whitewater Committee. At the time, Alston Jennings was representing Arkansas businessman Seth Ward in the Whitewater controversy in relation to the Castle Grande real estate project. The panel also planned to hear from Helen Dickey, Chelsea Clinton's former nanny. Meanwhile, the Committee hinted that then-Governor Clinton intervened in 1987 to give preferential treatment to Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan head Jim McDougal and current Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker. Some panel members charged that Clinton reversed a veto to save Madison from being put out of business.

The US attorney general is being asked to launch a criminal investigation into whether a presidential aide lied about the White House travel office firings. The General Accounting Office notified US Attorney Eric Holder that David Watkins may have made false statements to GAO investigators in 1993 when he said the dismissals were prompted by an accounting firm's findings of mismanagement in the travel office. According to a memo written by Watkins, Mrs. Clinton was behind the purge.

Bell Atlantic Corp. filed for permission to offer long-distance service in five states where the company presently does not provide local phone service. The move was made possible by the new telecommunications law, which lets local and long-distance phone companies and cable companies into each others' business.

The number of reported anti-Semitic acts dropped by 11 percent last year, the Anti-Defamation league reported. The decline was the first in three years and the sharpest in a decade. The group said the drop was due to a decline in crime in the US and an increase in security awareness among Jewish groups.

Defense Secretary William Perry said China's aggressive moves toward Taiwan and its exporting of sensitive nuclear technologies is jeopardizing its world position. He called for a new forum for the defense chiefs of the US, China, Japan, and other Asia-Pacific nations to discuss regional security issues.

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Billionaire Warren Buffet said he will sell new shares of his investment firm, Berkshire Hathaway, to the public for the first time since he took over more than 30 years ago. The new shares will cost $1,000 each. Existing shares sell for $32,000 each, the most expensive on the New York Stock Exchange.

A failed US Senate candidate, Ruthann Aron, is asking a Maryland jury to decide when criticism goes too far. Her opponent Bill Brock tried to make her look like a convicted criminal in commercials., and crossed the line into slander and libel, she says.

US marshals raided two Kmart stores in Miami and seized $45,000. A court clerk gave the go-ahead for lawyers to collect the money after Kmart failed to post the required $2 million bond in an age-discrimination suit. Company officials were outraged.

Opening arguments began in the trial of John Salvi, the anti-abortionist accused in the 1994 shooting deaths of two abortion-clinic workers in Brookline, Mass.

The World

Bosnian Serbs reportedly detained three Bosnian Muslims as war-crimes suspects in Foca, near Sarajevo. And NATO said contacts between the Alliance and Bosnian Serb military have broken down completely following the arrest of two Bosnian Serb officers as war-crimes suspects by Bosnia's Muslim-led government. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, an indicted war-crimes suspect, said NATO is looking favorably on Muslim provocations and called the arrests a form of hostility.

Premier-designate Antonio Maccanico abandoned efforts to form Italy's 55th post-war government. President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro was left with two choices: call for early elections or designate a non-partisan figure with the task of forming a government. Maccanico blamed squabbling political leaders for failing to reach a compromise and form a coalition government.

Sung Hae Rim, the estranged consort of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, escaped to an undisclosed destination in the West en route to political asylum in South Korea, Seoul officials said. Sung's alleged defection is seen as a major propaganda coup for Seoul, since both countries court defectors. Also, several guards were killed when an asylum-seeking gunman opened fire at Russia's trade mission in Pyongyang.

Turkey's premier-designate Mesut Yilmaz ignored his earlier pledges not to open talks with the Islamist Welfare Party to forge a coalition government. Until recently, Yilmaz maintained he would keep his election campaign promise and never form an alliance with the Islamists, who ran on an anti-secularist platform. In last month's elections, welfare won 158 seats in the 550-member Parliament. Yilmaz's party won 133 seats, and caretaker Premier Tansu Ciller's party took 135.

Palestinian police arrested two men reportedly on a suicide mission in Jerusalem. Israel sealed its borders on the West Bank and Gaza Strip as a precaution against such violence. The two allegedly belonged to the militant Islamic Jihad group. And as a first step toward early elections, Israel's parliament voted overwhelmingly to dissolve itself but set no date for elections. (Editorial, Page 20.)

Ireland reopened direct, low-level contacts with Sinn Fein, the IRA's political wing. The move is seen as part of a salvage operation by London and Dublin to resurrect a peace process shattered by the IRA's bombing of a building in London.

Nigerian authorities arrested Femi Falana, president of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers and a human rights activist, his friends claimed. Earlier, Milton Dabibi, former secretary of Nigeria's oil union, reportedly was also detained. The two pro-democracy activists have not been formally charged for any offense. Nigerian officials did not confirm or deny the arrests.

A Russian minister's proposal to nationalize banks and other big businesses is being criticized by reformers. Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov's radical plan to raise money could roll back many of Russia's market reforms. But communists and nationalists agreed to discuss Kulikov's plan in parliament.

Rescue workers demolished a 20-story-high boulder that crushed a highway tunnel near Sapporo, Japan. Workers began digging through the rubble to reach 20 trapped people.

Etceteras

A medieval world map once denounced as a forgery really does prove Columbus was not the first European to reach America, say researchers at Yale. A new edition of the map explains how historians proved its authenticity.

Crowds greeted a Learjet flown by former astronaut Pete Conrad and three other pilots when it landed in Denver. The jet apparently broke the round-the-world speed record for corporate jets.

Archaeologists recently discovered the ruins of a massive watchtower stand above the Dead Sea oasis of Ein Gedi. A prized balsam oil used to anoint biblical kings was made in the tower, Hebrew University archaeologist Yizhar Hirschfeld says.

The Newest Tallest Tower

Malaysia is the new home to the word's tallest building. (See photo, left.) Other tall buildings below are measured in feet.

1. Petronas Twin Towers 1,482 (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

2. Sears Tower 1,454 with spires 1,707 (Chicago)

3. World Trade Center 1,368 (New York)

4. Empire State Building 1,250 with spire 1,472 (New York)

5. Amoco Building 1,136 (Chicago)

6. John Hancock Center 1,127 with spire 1,472 (Chicago)

7. Chrysler Building 1,046 (New York)

8. Central Plaza 1,015 with spire 1,228 (Hong Kong)

9. First Interstate World Center 1,017 (Los Angeles)

10. Texas Commerce 1,002 Tower (Houston)

''The Top 10 of Everthing 1996,'' Dorling Kindersley

'' Whoever wins next Tuesday in New Hampshire will probably be the Republican nominee to run against President Clinton.''

- Senator Dole, despite commentator Pat Buchanan's close-second finish in Iowa and strong New Hampshire support.


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