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News In Brief

The US

President Clinton unveiled a six-year, $175 billion blueprint for US highways, bridges, and mass transit. The National Economic Crossroads Transportation Efficiency Act (NEXTEA) would increase transportation spending by $17 billion and would "create tens of million of jobs for our people and help move people from welfare to work," he said.

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In a dramatic turnabout, the Senate voted to broaden authority to look into huge donations to political parties that are not usually legal. It originally was expected to support majority leader Trent Lott's narrower investigation of questionable Clinton administration fund-raising during the 1996 campaign. But as many as 10 Republicans thought a narrow probe was politically indefensible. Senators approved 4.35 million for the probe.

Clinton appealed for campaign finance reform and asked broadcasters to give free air time to candidates during a speech in Washington. Also, the latest ABC news poll supports surveys by The Washington Post and by CBS that Clinton's approval rating has eroded. ABC found the president's popularity has dropped from 60 to 55 because of fund-raising concerns. Some 72 percent of those polled called reports of Clinton hosting donors at the White House and inviting them for overnight stays "inappropriate." But 59 percent said Clinton did nothing unlawful. Some 62 percent found Vice President Al Gore's use of his White House office to call donors "inappropriate."

The White House spent more than $1 million to entertain donors and other private citizens last year, administration officials told Congress. That's three times the amount in President Bush's last year. Officials said taxpayers were fully reimbursed, although Republicans questioned what expenses Clinton paid back.

The Mississippi River is expected to crest today in Memphis, Tenn., at a level close to that of the great floods of 1927. But levees, flood plains, and other control structures will protect most inhabited areas, the Army Corps of Engineers said. in Shawneetown, Ill., the mayor called for a voluntary evacuation as the Ohio River was expected to crest within five feet of the top of 60-foot-high levees.

The nation's governors presented their Medicaid plan to Congress, saying it would save $8 billion over five years in the program. The plan includes raising $2 billion a year by charging an average of $5 a month on a sliding scale, with the poorest recipients paying nothing. The governors have called Clinton's plan to limit federal Medicaid spending unfair because states would be stuck with the bill if costs skyrocket.

Clinton never asked or suggested that anyone hire former Associate Attorney General Webster Hubbell, the White House said. But it admitted he knew that two longtime political supporters had hired Hubbell. Whitewater prosecutors are investigating whether Hubbell's hiring in 1994 was in an effort to keep him from cooperating with investigators in their probe of the president and first lady.

The Federal Communications Commission approved a plan that allows telephone, television, and data services, including Internet access, to be delivered via wireless technology. Local multipoint distribution service is delivered in a way that closely resembles cellular phone service - with the help of a small receiver dish placed in or near a window.

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The Scottish scientist who cloned a sheep was expected to testify before a Senate panel. Ian Wilmut has said he opposes human cloning, but has cautioned against a ban that could rule out related research to treat or prevent human illnesses.

Some 34 percent of New Yorkers believe life in the Big Apple has improved in recent years, - a 10 percent increase from last year, a New York Times poll found. Half of the 1,400 adults surveyed in the city's five boroughs said they wouldn't move out of the city if they could.

The World

Mexican courts annulled the prison sentences of two powerful drug traffickers, according to news reports. The Notimex news service said Miguel Angel Beltran Lugo's 30-year term was revoked due to faulty police work. In a separate case, Joaquin Guzman was absolved of a bribery conviction. In Houston, meanwhile, a former Mexican policeman testified he had helped to load bribe money from drug dealers aboard government planes for delivery to senior officials in federal offices.

The UN General Assembly took up Palestinian complaints against Israel's plan to build Jewish housing in East Jerusa-lem. The debate followed a US veto late last week of a proposed resolution criticizing the Israeli plan. But a Jerusalem newspaper reported the US is urging that the construction be delayed. In Moscow, visiting Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said he was "fed up" with accusations that his government's actions were damaging peace prospects with the Palestinians.

Albanian soldiers stood by as looters seized rifles and ammunition at a base only 34 miles from the capital, Tirana. Meanwhile, an insurgent leader told reporters that rebel councils from across southern Albania had formed an umbrella group, the National Committee of Public Salvation. In Tirana, President Berisha named an opposition politician, Bashkim Fino, to head his interim government until elections can be held in June. And parliament approved an amnesty for the insurgents.

North Korea is asking foreign investors to make partial payment for new joint projects in food instead of cash, UN officials reported. One diplomat said North Korean officials told him that by June they might not be able to provide the population with even half of the daily rations needed to maintain body weight.

Thousands of German coal miners rallied for a third day outside government offices in Bonn to protest cuts in federal subsidies. Last week, Chancellor Helmut Kohl's government said it could no longer afford more than $6 billion a year to prop up domestic coal prices, which are three times higher than the world average. It proposed to cut the price supports to $2.2 billion by 2005.

Dockworkers shut down about half of Japan's ports in a protest against US moves to foster greater trade competition. Officials said the strike idled more than 120 ships awaiting loading or unloading. Last week, the US announced new surchanges on Japanese ships calling at American ports.

As many as 9,000 Cambodian Army troops began an offensive against Khmer Rouge guerrillas when peace talks collapsed. Behind heavy tanks, they closed in on the rebel stronghold of Anlong Veng, where 15 government negotiators apparently were being held hostage.

Gunfire erupted in downtown Johannesburg as thousands of angry Zulu marchers protested three unpunished deaths from another of their rallies in 1994. Police said at least two people died and six others were hurt in the violence.

Hong Kong's largest political party was denied permission to hold an all-night vigil in a public park as control of the British colony is returned to China. The city's Urban Council ruled the June 30 vigil was "not suitable." It granted a permit to another group that wants to organize a celebration of the handover.

Saying "Honduras does not act hurriedly in this case," a Supreme Court justice indicated he might take two months to decide on extraditing a former Hai-tian police official to the US. Mi-chel Franois, a leader of the coup that toppled Haiti's first democratically elected government in 1991, is wanted in the US on drug-trafficking charges. He was granted asylum in Tegucigapla, the Honduran capital, last April.


"This bill will literally be our bridge to the 21st century."

- President Clinton, proposing a six-year, $175 billion program to upgrade mass transit, highways . . . and bridges.

If the indigenous Maori people of New Zealand get their way, the world's mapmakers and travel agents are going to have a lot of work to do. Under an 1840 treaty, the government is required to protect Maori culture and language. Now the Maori say that should include changing the country's name back to its original form: Aotearoa, or Land of the Long White Cloud.

Police in New York have arrested one of the most determined lawbreakers in years. While patrolling a Brooklyn street, they spotted a van licensed to a man who had been issued 427 traffic tickets on 61 separate dates. He's on file under 25 different names and birthdates.

As a center for the Minnesota Vikings, Mike Morris toils mostly in obscurity. So he was puzzled when police pulled him over as he drove away from a store near Minneapolis. It seems he got into the wrong minivan by mistake and - because the ignition key worked - assumed the vehicle was his. The rightful owners reported it stolen. The cops let him off after hearing his explanation. But the owners didn't, until he gave them his autograph.

The Day's List

Asia's Population Bulge May Be Marketing Dream

The growing number of teenagers in China, India, and Indonesia - a byproduct of Asia's economic success - could soon wield as much market influence as do US baby-boomers. The following countries are projected to have the most people between ages 14 and 20 by 2000 (first figure is projected number in millions; second is percentage of total population):

China 302.3 24.1

India 299.7 29.5

Indonesia 63.6 30.8

US 55.4 20.1

Brazil 51.1 29.6

Nigeria 42.3 33.1

Russia 33.9 22.6

Mexico 30.3 30.7

Vietnam 25.2 30.8

Philippines 24.0 31.0

Japan 22.7 17.9

Egypt 20.0 32.0

- Dean Witter Reynolds Inc.

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