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The US

A survey found US opinion split on President Clinton hosting of donors at the White House. Forty-two percent of respondents to a USA Today, CNN, Gallup Poll, said he shouldn't invite contributors to stay in the Lincoln Bedroom; 45 percent said they didn't care. The survey also found that 53 percent don't believe the issue is relevant to Clinton's character or ability to be president, 46 percent think he is cooperating with probers, 42 percent believe he's trying to cover up, 63 percent find his actions typical of recent presidents.

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Chilean President Eduardo Frei addressed a joint session of Congress to gain support for broadening the North American Free Trade Agreement to include Chile. Before the address, Clinton said the US "cannot sit on the sidelines" while other nations increase trade with Latin America. Expansion of NAFTA faces tough opposition in Congress.

New Jersey Sen. Robert Torricelli announced his opposition to the GOP balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. He became the 34th Democrat to oppose the measure - enough to ensure its defeat. He said the proposal could make it difficult for future generations confront-ing a military crisis, recession, or a need for construction projects. Republicans attacked Torricelli for breaking a campaign promise.

In a significant boost for Clinton, two Senate Republicans said they plan to support Anthony Lake for CIA director, barring last-minute revelations. John Chafee of Rhode Island and Dick Lugar of Indiana said they are keeping options open, but plan to vote for Lake. Chafee and Lugar are members of the Senate Intelligence Committee holding hearings on Lake's nomination.

A House panel decided to pursue an inquiry into former Rep. Bob Dornan's challenge of his election defeat by Loretta Sanchez in California last November. Dornan, a Republican conservative who lost to his Democratic challenger by 979 votes, wants the results overturned. He says Sanchez supporters illegally registered hundreds of noncitizens.

Orders to US factories for big-ticket durable goods shot up 3.6 percent in January, the Commerce Department said. Orders totaled a seasonally adjusted $174.8 billion - up from $168.8 billion in December. It was the first advance in three months and the largest since September. Many analysts had expected a much smaller 1.4 percent advance after December's revised 1.8 percent decline.

Virginia will not enforce a new federal rule that retailers require photo ID from tobacco buyers under 27 years old, state officials said. The Food and Drug Administration is counting on states to enforce the rule, but a spokesman said there is a back-up plan for some direct enforcement and that could happen in Virginia. Tobacco is the No. 1 cash crop in the state.

Ten US hotel chains were slapped with a civil rights boycott by the NAACP. Kweisi Mfume, president of the group, said the action was taken for what he termed "abysmal" hiring and promotion practices. The affected chains: Doubletree, ITT Sheraton, Promus (Embassy Suites), Westin Hotels, Best Western International, Radisson Hospitality Worldwide, Renaissance Hotels and Resorts, Choice Hotels International, Holiday Inn Worldwide, and Omni Hotels.

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Nearly 28,000 Ford Expeditions were recalled by the company. Ford said poor welds could cause drivers to lose control of the vehicles, but no accidents had been reported as a result of the problem. The sport-utility Expedition is one of Ford's best-selling models.

US students are doing better at math, but nearly 40 percent of eighth-graders still lack even basic number skills, the Education Department said. Fourth-, 8th- and 12th-graders took math tests last year. All did better than in 1992 and 1990, the last two test years. But despite advances, results show most US students doing only average work.

Baseball is dedicating its 1997 season to Jackie Robinson, who broke the sport's color line 50 years ago, acting commissioner Bud Selig announced. He said Major League Baseball would donate $1 million to a foundation created by Robinson's family and friends.

THe World

The Mexican government demanded that the US grant it full certification as an ally in the fight against illegal drugs. By law, US President Clinton must inform Congress by tomorrow whether Mexico is doing all it can to stop the spread of narcotics. A negative report could mean the cutoff of some US aid. Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of lawmakers warned Clinton of a congressional revolt if he issues the certification.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu denied published reports that he had made a deal with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat on building new Jewish housing in disputed East Jerusalem. A spokesman said the two had not agreed on a plan to contain Palestinian reaction to the plan in exchange for a larger than expected Israeli troop pullback from the West Bank. Arafat, who has said the housing plan "pushes the peace process into the corner," is due in Washington next week for talks with Clinton.

In South Africa, a Zairean government envoy refused to say whether he would meet face-to-face with rebels who came to discuss peace. The two sides were brought to South Africa by President Nelson Mandela, who is attempting to mediate the peace process. Mandela said an end to hostilities could only come through direct talks.

A suspected IRA bomb was found near a police base in Bel-fast, Northern Ireland. Police and Army units moved to seal off the area and defuse the device, which a telephoned warning said had failed to detonate. A second alert in the city appeared to be a hoax, security sources said. Meanwhile, the IRA claimed responsibility for the shooting death of a British soldier Feb. 12.

A voter-approved constitutional amendment permitting divorce took effect in predominantly Roman Catholic Ireland. The measure overturns a ban that had been in place since 1937. It allows couples to end their marriages after four years' separation. Ireland has an estimated 90,000 separated couples.

South Korean border guards guided a barefoot woman defector across the Demilitarized Zone from rival North Korea. The incident came as funeral ceremonies were taking place in Seoul for Lee Han Young, another North Korean who had sought asylum but was shot by assassins Feb. 15. He was the nephew of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's former wife. A manhunt for the gunmen is under way.

Japan warned of harm to bilateral relations with the US unless the latter dropped its threat to impose new tariffs on shipping. The US Maritime Commission said it would retaliate for "unfavorable restrictive practices" by slapping $100,000 surcharges on Japanese cargo ships calling at US ports beginning April 14.

Tajikistan's main rebel force was pushed from its base, Army commanders claimed. They said their troops had chased Bakhram Sadirov's fighters into an area where rival guerrillas were lying in wait. Earlier this month, Sad-irov freed the last of 16 hostages his forces had taken - most of them UN employees.

An American petroleum engineer kidnapped in Yemen earlier this month was freed by his captors, the Yemen government said. Joe Dell'Aria, an employee of Halliburton Energy Services in Houston, was abducted in a land dispute between the government and Murad tribesmen.

Jordan has stopped monitoring foreign newspapers before allowing them to be distributed, the information ministry in Am-man said. It also said plans were under way to revise the country's stringent Press and Publications Law, which forbids reporting that offends the royal family, discusses sensitive military information, questions confidence in the Jordanian dinar, or poses challenges to the practice of Islam.


I believe it will always be baseball's proudest moment. Should it

have come earlier [than '47]? Certainly."

- Acting commissioner Bud Selig, dedicating the coming season to Jackie Robinson, who broke the sport's color line in 1947.

British and Gallic pride are at stake in a contest for a new world record - the tallest Ferris wheel. French developers plan one for Paris that would be 360 feet high. But Londoners are moving ahead with a wheel that's expected to reach 500 feet. Not to be outdone, the Parisians say they'll go to 501 feet if necessary.

Little Hesston, Kansas, has a farm machinery plant, a junior college, and an unusual mayor's race. Incumbent John Waltner, who teaches government at Hesston High School, faces a runoff April 1 against one of his own students. Waltner outpolled Chris Friesen in this week's primary, 246-to-130 - but not by enough votes to win reelection outright. Waltner, a Democrat, has held the office since Friesen, a Republican, was in first grade. He pled-ged that the outcome won't affect Friesen's report card.

Memo to police departments: Looking for an inexpensive way to help keep the peace? Try painting your jails pink. Sheriff Ted Sexton of Tuscaloosa County, Ala., did that because the color is supposed to be soothing and because it's not claimed by any of the area's street gangs. Since the paint went up, fighting has gone down, he says.

The Day's List

Home Market Values Aren't Fluctuating Much

Home is not where the profit is, according to a new study by Runzheimer International, a Rochester, Wisc., management-consulting firm. Its data show little average gain or loss in property values from the fourth quarter of 1995 to the fourth quarter of 1996. A sample of cities surveyed, with '96 values, and changes (in percents) based on 2,000 sq. ft. homes in suburban neighborhoods:

Detroit, $189,200 +8.9

Nashville, $145,700 +8.2

Denver, $184,600 +7.3

Salt Lake City, $209,900 +7.0

Omaha, Neb., $139,800 +4.9

Chicago, $220,500 +3.0

Los Angeles, $232,100 - 2.2

Washington, $250,300 - 2.7

St. Louis, $161,500 - 4.9

Honolulu, $387,000 - 6.3

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