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News In Brief

THE US

Mechanical trouble was blamed for the accidental shoot-down of a US attack bomber by the Japanese destroyer Yuugiri during joint military exercises off Hawaii. Two American crew members rescued within minutes reportedly were in good condition. The accident occurred when the ship fired at a target being towed by the US Navy's A-6E Intruder. Japan joined the Pacific Rim maneuvers in 1980.

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President Clinton proposed a $1,500 refundable tax credit to offset tuition costs for two years of college. He was to outline the $7.9 billion plan during a commencement address at Princeton University in New Jersey. The cost would be offset with revenues from sources such as selling new broadcast frequencies and an airport tax on international travelers. Meanwhile, Senator Dole mulled over a campaign strategy involving across-the-board tax cuts.

Divers at the ValuJet crash site plan to search a crater within the crater gouged out when the DC-9 hit the bottom of Florida's Everglades. The 20-by-30-foot hole holds some of the largest sections of the wreckage. They also recovered more human remains and objects such as photo albums. A truck driver working for the salvage operation faces a possible 10-year sentence for theft after piece of the fuselage and a circuit-breaker panel were found at his home.

At least one light was seen burning after federal agents pulled the plug on electricity at the Jordan, Mont., ranch where the "freemen" antigovernment group is holed up. Neighbors say the group has generators. The power cut is an attempt to draw the group back into negotiations, the FBI said.

Chrysler was forced to recall more than 90-thousand Cirrus and Dodge Stratus. The recall was ordered because officials said the cars' seat belts aren't strong enough. The government had never before taken an automaker to court for failing a government safety standard test.

A Mississippi school district plans to appeal a federal judge's ruling that its Bible classes and public address system prayers are unconstitutional. Lisa Herdahl sued in 1994 to end the 50-year-old tradition in the largely Baptist community of Ecru, saying her children have a constitutional right not to engage in the practices.

A suspicious fire destroyed a Baptist church in Greensboro, Ala., the ninth black church burned or vandalized in Alabama in the last year. Civil rights groups believe racism is the motive behind numerous fires that have struck 25 churches in the south since January 1995. But investigators with the FBI and US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have not been able to find a connection between the church fires.

Phone giant BellSouth agreed to permit Time Warner Communications to offer local telephone service in BellSouth's calling region. The move opens the way for Time Warner, the No. 2 cable-TV concern, to enter the phone business. And the deal sets the stage for BellSouth to sell long-distance service.

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In the largest verdict ever against an automaker, an Alabama jury ordered General Motors Corp. to pay a record $150 million in damages to a paralyzed man. The prosecution alleged that a door latch on his Chevrolet S-10 Blazer failed in a crash, throwing him out of the vehicle. The verdict eclipsed a $125 million jury award against Ford Motor Company.

Federal officials responded to allegations by Rep. Henry Gonzalez of Texas, the senior Democrat on the House Banking Committee, of falsified reports at the Federal Reserve's Los Angeles branch. The Feds said the problem was corrected, and no bank funds were actually lost through errors in the statistical reports. Gonzalez alleged employees at the branch were ordered to cover up $178 million in discrepancies.

Economists of all political stripes are suggesting that downsizing doesn't pay off in the long run, Labor Secretary Robert Reich said while addressing the Boston College Conference on Prospects for a Global Economy. US companies also have stopped bragging about large-scale layoffs, he added. Reich highlighted a growing gap between rich and poor in the US and urged business leaders to treat employees like assets to be nurtured rather than expenses to be cut.

THE WORLD

Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov indicated in Berlin Russia may soften its opposition to NATO's eastward expansion - as long as it doesn't mean a military buildup on Russia's borders, NATO officials said. Russia signaled a willingness to build a new partnership.

Israeli Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu met with outgoing Prime Minister Shimon Peres for the first time since elections and vowed to cooperate on the transfer of power. Netanyahu said the two agreed on several important security issues, fueling speculation the he might ask the Labor Party to join his new government. One of Peres's top advisers said the Labor Party should consider such a move.

The US, Russia, and major European powers agreed Bosnia's first post war elections must go ahead on schedule. Also, NATO peacekeeping troops are extending their patrols to Pale, where Bosnian Serb leaders wanted for war crimes have their headquarters, NATO Commander Gen. George Joulwan said. And if they encounter Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic on a patrol, they will arrest him, a US state department spokesman said.

Technicians blew up the Ariane 5, Europe's latest unmanned satellite-launching rocket, seconds after it was launched from French Guiana on its maiden voyage. The explosion was a safety precaution taken when the rocket veered off course, launch officials said.

British and Irish negotiators met to hash out disagreements before Northern Ireland peace talks June 10, as hopes faded for a renewed IRA cease-fire. Earlier, the IRA said there was "absolute-ly no likelihood of any substantive IRA move" before the talks.

Chechen rebels met with Russia for a new round of peace talks in Nazran, Russia, aimed at ending the 18-month war. Chechen rebels accused Russia of bombing villages in the breakaway republic on the eve of talks, violating a shaky cease-fire.

Burma's military government issued a veiled threat in the state-run newspaper to ban opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party if it follows through on its pledge to draft an alternative constitution.

Bahrain arrested 44 people in an alleged pro-Iranian plot to overthrow the ruling Al Khalifa family and replace them with a Shiite Muslim-led government modeled after Iran. About 34 of those arrested have confessed before a judge, the Gulf News Agency said. Also, Kuwait, Egypt, and Jordan condemned Iran for the alleged plot, the Gulf Daily news said.

Turkey's parliament will proceed with a no-confidence vote this week that is likely to topple Prime Minister Yilmaz's 12-week-old coalition government. The Islamic party proposed the measure supported by former Prime Minister Ciller's party.

Kudirat Abiola, the outspoken wife of detained Nigerian presidential claimant Moshood Abiola, was shot and killed in Lagos by unidentified gunmen.

A Papua New Guinea patrol boat in pursuit of Bougainville rebels fired on a Solomon Islands village, sparking a war of words between the two neighbors. Papua New Guinea has long suspected the Solomons of harboring the rebels, and has threatened before to carry out incursions. The rebels have been fighting an eight-year war for independence from Papua New Guinea.

Three-time French Open Champion Monica Seles was defeated by Czech Jana Novotna in the quarterfinals. It was the top-seeded Seles's first bid for the championship since her stabbing three years ago.

ETCETERAS

''Instead of playing to Wall Street and touting the numbers of layoffs, these CEOs seem more sensitive to Main Street." -- Labor Secretary Robert Reich, after a speech to business leaders about corporate responsibility at Boston College.

The cicadas are back! The insects emerge from the dirt once every 17 years to reproduce from North Carolina to Connecticut. Cicadas' 17-year life span is the longest of any insect, but they live only 2-1/2 weeks above ground as adults. The last cicada sighting was in 1979.

A statue of Cupid by 18th-century artist Antonio Canova was discovered in an English garden, bringing new meaning to lawn art. Sotheby's says the statue, which has been covered in moss and dirt for the last 200 years, is worth at least $1.5 million. It will be auctioned July 4.

Sony Corp., the same company that introduced the Walkman, is launching a personalized movie screen mounted in a headset. The personal liquid crystal display monitor (LCD) will be introduced in Japan June 21. The PLM Glasstron, priced at $814, weighs 11 ounces and will be used in conjunction with a battery pack and lightweight CD player.

It's the San Diego Symphony's swan song. The 86-year-old orchestra has filed for liquidation bankruptcy after months of emergency fund-raising failed.

THE DAY'S LIST

Colleges, Play Ball!

These college teams are playing in the finals of the 50th annual College World Series baseball in Omaha, Neb. Both Wichita State and Oklahoma State were knocked out in double elimination play. The championship game is Saturday. (Regular season records are in parentheses.)

1. Alabama (50-18)

2. Clemson (50-16)

3. Florida (49-16)

4. Florida State (51-16)

5. LSU (49-15)

6. Miami (49-13)

- Associated Press


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