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News In Brief


At the invitation of Republicans, President Clinton visited Capitol Hill to discuss legislative priorities with leaders of both parties. Such meetings at the start of a new Congress are rare. The president said he was optimistic about prospects for eventual bipartisan agreement.

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Supporters of the balanced-budget amendment cleared a small hurdle in the Senate. A Democratic proposal that would have allowed a majority in both houses of Congress to waive the requirement for balancing the budget in times of economic downturns was defeated. Ten Democrats joined Republicans in rejecting the proposal, but the 64-to-35 vote didn't reach the two- thirds majority needed in each house for submission of a constitutional amendment to the states. Both parties favor a balanced budget, but Democrats oppose a constitutional amendment.

The jury in the civil trial of O.J. Simpson ordered him to pay $25 million in punitive damages to the heirs of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman. Last week the jury ordered him to pay $8.5 million in compensatory damages to Goldman's parents. Simpson's lawyers can appeal the verdicts.

A federal jury found two black men guilty in the fatal stabbing of a Hasidic Jew in a widely watched case stemming from racial violence in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1991. At issue was whether Lemrick Nelson and Charles Price were part of a racist vigilante mob that killed Yankel Rosenbaum or whether they were scapegoats for the Jewish student's murder during four nights of rioting.

The Air Force extended to the Gulf of Mexico an earlier suspension of training flights along the Eastern seaboard. The new order came after reports of close encounters between commercial aircraft and Air Force F-16s over New Mexico and Texas Feb. 7. Similar incidents off the coast of Maryland on Friday and off New Jersey two days earlier had prompted a shutdown of training on the East Coast.

US productivity rose 0.8 percent in 1996, the largest increase in four years, the Labor Department said. The advance in nonfarm productivity, measuring output per hour of work, was more than double the 0.3 percent gain in 1995 and the best showing since productivity shot up 3.2 percent in 1992, the year after the 1990-91 recession.

The father of one of two remaining female Citadel cadets was appointed to oversee military activities at the state college. Brig. Gen. Emory Mace (USA, ret.) will become commandant of cadets Feb. 24. His daughter, Nancy, was one of four women who entered the formerly all-male school this fall.Two of the women, saying they had been harassed and hazed, did not return to school after Christmas.

The space shuttle Discovery blasted into space to rendezvous with the Hubble Space Telescope. The shuttle is scheduled to meet up with Hubble tomorrow. Four days of space walks are planned to install 11 major pieces of equipment on the $2 billion telescope.

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San Francisco Symphony musicians headed back to rehearsal at the end of a 67-day strike. The American Federation of Musicians, Local 6, voted 54-to-41 to approve a new contract. It makes concessions on pensions and wages, but does not address resistance to Sunday performances.

Clinton is failing to take the lead on civil rights, a private commission said. The Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights report praised the president for his recent quick response to the burning of black churches, but accused him of indifference toward long-term problems, such as turning over federal responsibilities to states and releasing school systems from old desegregation orders. The White House disputed the charge.

A bitter dispute between rival National Football League franchises was settled after the intervention of commissioner Paul Tagliabue. In return for four New York Jets college draft choices over the next three years, the New England Patriots agreed to allow Bill Parcells, who led them to Super Bowl XXXI, to become head coach of the Jets.


Lawmakers in Serbia opened a special session of parliament to consider legislation that would reinstate opposition victories in local elections last November. A refusal by President Milosevic to recognize the election outcome led to three months of street protests in the capital, Belgrade. Opposition to the measure was expected from ultranationalists allied with Milosevic's Socialist Party, but it was considered likely to pass.

Palestinians accused Israel of taking with one hand while it gave with the other. As authorities announced the release of 31 Palestinian prisoners - all of them women who were arrested for involvement in attacks on Jews - bulldozers demolished a Bedouin encampment on the West Bank. An Israeli military spokesman said the Bedouin were squatters on state property reserved for the expansion of a Jewish settlement. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Netanyahu prepared to leave for talks in Washington with President Clinton.

Albanians marched in memory of a protester who died when police fired on a crowd demanding its money back from failed pyramid investment schemes. An estimated 20,000 demonstrators filed through the city of Vlora, chanting anti-government slogans and setting fire to offices of the ruling Democratic Party. Security forces did not interfere, but Prime Minister Meksi said parliament would be asked to approve using the Army to protect the city.

Having sealed off a mostly Muslim city in northwestern China, police searched for members of an illegal group accused of fomenting the worst ethnic violence there since the communist revolution in 1949. Accounts of what happened in Yining last week vary, but all sources agree that security forces broke up a demonstration by Uighurs - people of Turkic Muslim descent who resent the influx of ethnic Han Chinese. The city is 30 miles from Kazakhstan, where many exiled Uighur separatists live.

An incident in the volatile city of Mostar was described as the worst ethnic violence since Bos-nia's civil war ended in 1995. Croats in the divided city blocked Muslim marchers heading for a cemetery. Shots reportedly were fired, one Muslim was killed, and 22 others were hurt. Afterward, international observers said, 26 Muslims were evicted from their homes in a Croat neighborhood.

Italy's secret service spied on hundreds of leftist magistrates during the cold war, a Turin newspaper reported. La Stampa said government investigators had opened a probe after files from the era were discovered in an Interior Ministry office last fall. One of those targeted was Luciano Violante, now Speaker of the lower house of parliament.

Prime Minister Hashimoto's approval rating in Japan fell to just 42 percent, a new public opinion survey found. The Tokyo newspaper Asahi Shimbun said dissatisfaction with Hashimoto was based on pessimism over his promises to reform government. Just under 80 percent of respondents said they expected a large tax increase in the spring.

Public-sector workers walked off the job across Colombia, virtually shutting down transportation, telecommunications, and state-supported schools. Security was tight in the capital, Bogota, where strikers were expected to stage protests for a 21.5 percent increase in wages. The government is offering 13.5 percent.

The US Navy sought to avoid an environmental accident by moving a nearly out-of-fuel warship further out to sea off Australia's Great Barrier Reef. The ammunition carrier Kilauea had anchored near the world-famous reef in preparation for joint military exercises. Attempts to refuel it were abandoned because of an approaching cyclone. Opposition politicians have accused the US of irresponsibility for allowing the vessel to run low on fuel.


"The White House has failed to provide direction with respect to civil rights policy."

- From a Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights report suggesting that President Clinton should name a White House liaison to advocacy groups on the issue.

He may huff and he may puff, but this time the wolf won't be able to blow the straw house down. At least, not in Colorado Springs, Colo. The city paid to have a demonstration house built of mortar-covered 40-pound straw bales as an affordable, energy-efficient construction technique. Who would have thought the first little pig of nursery rhyme fame had the right idea all along?

You might think a kiss is just a kiss, but Boston College Prof. Michael Christian knows better. His research has identified 25 different varieties of lip-locks. Even so, he says, most Americans kiss for less than one minute.

A Japanese resort has come up with yet another way for harried executives to relieve stress. They're encouraged to walk into a room displaying classic porcelain vases and figurines and trash it - screaming in satisfaction as they hurl the delicate objects against a wall. Sessions can last up to two hours. Yes, there's a fee. And, if you were wondering, the pieces are cheap imitations.

The Day's List

Proposed Regulations for Curbing Youth Smoking

The tobacco industry has asked a US judge in Greensboro, N.C., to throw out Food and Drug Administration rules aimed at protecting children - on grounds that the FDA lacks authority to regulate cigarette sales or marketing and ad limits violate the right to free speech. The following antitobacco rules are scheduled to take effect Aug 28:

No vending machines, except in places where people under 18 cannot enter.

No free samples.

No billboards within 1,000 feet of schools and playgrounds.

Limit billboards, outdoor and in-store advertising to black-white text, except where people under 18 cannot see it.

Limit print ads with youth readership to black-white text.

No brand-name sponsorship of sporting or other events.

No cigarette names on hats, T-shirts, gym bags, etc.

Retailers must verify by photo-ID the age of tobacco purchasers under 27.

- Reuter

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