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The US

Former Senate majority lead-er Bob Dole agreed to provide a $300,000 loan for House Speak-er Newt Gingrich to use in paying his ethics penalty. The terms call for Gingrich to repay the money at 10 percent interest over eight years. The move means Gingrich will not have to use campaign contributions or donations to a legal defense fund to meet the obligation.

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The US Senate was scheduled to open debate on a bill setting penalties for the possession or use of chemical and biological weapons. Critics of the measure sponsored by conservative Republicans hoped for its defeat so that the Senate could move on to ratification of the controversial Chemical Weapons Convention as early as next week. No vote on the treaty has yet been scheduled.

The Red River of the North rose to 22-1/4 feet above flood stage at Fargo, N.D., breaking a 100-year-old record. Across the river, city workers in Moorhead, Minn., parked heavy trucks on top of storm drains to keep them from being torn loose by surging flood waters.

Attorneys for both sides in the Timothy McVeigh/Oklahoma City bombing case were barred from speaking with reporters until the trial is over. In issuing the order, federal judge Richard Matsch said "public interests will be satisfied" by news coverage of the trial even if participants cannot make public comments outside the courtroom.

Warning that "anniversaries can be a focus for additional activity," the Social Security Administration instructed its offices across the US to take precautions against possible acts of violence today - the date of both the 1993 fire at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, and the 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City. In Colorado, security was tightened at North American Aerospace Defense Command headquarters inside Cheyenne Mountain because of what officials said was "specific information" that it might be attacked.

More than 22,000 troops from the US and three allies were to open 10 days of air-defense exercises across an area spanning Texas and New Mexico. Also participating in Operation Roving Sands are Canada, the Netherlands, and Germany.

Cigarette makers RJR Nabis-co and Philip Morris offered to divulge their private research into the effects of smoking on health as part of ongoing negotiations to settle massive civil lawsuits, The Wall Street Journal reported. Such an action would be a major departure from past industry policy, which has been to resist telling what it knows about the risks of smoking.

President and Mrs. Clinton opened a one-day White House symposium on the effects of early nurturing on child development. The conference was to feature researchers and experts in the field and to be broadcast by satellite to at least 80 sites where "watch parties" were gathered.

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US Teacher of the Year honors for 1997 went to Sharon Draper of Walnut Hills High School in Cincinnati. The award is presented by educational publisher Scholastic Inc. and the Council of Chief State School Officers. It calls for Draper, who teaches 12th grade English literature, to be given a year's leave of absence to promote education.

The New York Jets ended speculation about what they would do with the No. 1 pick in tomorrow's National Football League draft by trading it to the St. Louis Rams. In return, the Rams sent the sixth selection in the first round to New York, plus their third-, fourth-, and seventh-round choices. St. Louis was expected to claim 340-pound offensive tackle Orlando Pact of Ohio State, rated the rest player in the draft.

Little League Baseball Inc. said it received notice that Taiwan was withdrawing from competition in the organization's annual World Series. The move came because of a rule that forbids teams from drawing players from too large a population base. Taiwan's teams have dominated the Little League World Series, winning 12 times in the past 23 years - often by lopsided scores.

The World

As calls for his resignation mounted, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to fight rather than quit. The country's latest crisis emerged after police recommended that Netanyahu be charged with fraud and breach of public trust in an influence-peddling scandal. Prosecutors are expected to decide by next week if they will indict Netanyahu. The crisis also cast a cloud over US efforts to salvage the Mideast peace process. An influential ultra-Orthodox Jew on trial for corruption is alleged to have persuaded Netanyahu to name Roni Bar-On as attorney general in hopes of winning a plea bargain.

President Boris Yeltsin said Russia would sign an agreement with NATO at a Paris summit May 27 about the alliance's planned expansion into Eastern Europe. Yeltsin declined to give any details after talks with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in the Black Forest resort of Baden-Baden. No breakthrough was achieved in another contentious issue: the return of German art looted by the Soviet Army in 1945. Meanwhile, German banks agreed to provide Russia with a $2.5 billion credit for a new gas pipeline connecting the two countries.

A negotiated settlement to Zaire's political crisis appeared likely, UN officials said,after reb-el leader Laurent Kabila met with South African President Mandela in Cape Town. Sources close to those discussions said Kabila and Zairean President Mobutu also agreed in principle to meet for talks in South Africa. Meanwhile, Swiss officials said they would not block the assets of Mobutu, which Kabila's forces want to recover.

South Korea's Supreme Court unanimously upheld prison sentences for two former presidents - Roh Tae Woo and Chun Doo Hwan - for their roles in a 1979 coup and a 1980 Army massacre. Chun was ordered to serve life in prison and Roh 17 years. President Kim Young Sam is widely expected to offer them pardons before he leaves office next February.

Regional leader G.K. Moopanar emerged as the front-runner to head India's next government and end a 19-day political stalemate. Prime Minister Deve Gowda's government lost a vote of confidence in Parliament after the Congress Party withdrew its backing earlier this month. The selection of a new leader was deferred until today following the death of Biju Patnaik, a veteran leader.

African leaders eased economic sanctions on landlocked Burundi during a summit in Arusha, Tanzania. Burundi's Tutsi military ruler, Maj. Pierre Buyoya, welcomed the ruling. But it angered the country's Hutu rebels. The sanctions were imposed nine months ago to force Buyoya to negotiate with the Hutus, who account for 85 percent of Burundi's population. An arms embargo is still in place.

Japan's state-run nuclear company admitted it had failed to report 11 radiation leaks at a plant where a new mishap occur-red this week. The latest disclosure of problems at Fugen followed a delayed report about a leak of radioactive tritium there that exposed 11 workers to small doses of radiation.

Polls predict an overwhelming win for Bulgaria's democratic opposition in tomorrow's parliamentary elections. Opposition protests toppled the Socialists in February. The new government, however, will have to tackle an annual inflation of 2,040 percent. Meanwhile, President Petar Stoyanov met exiled King Simeon in Sofia, the capital, and said a referendum on restoring the monarchy could be held if parliament voted for it.

Former Israeli President Chaim Herzog, who was also a historian, diplomat, and soldier, died. He was Israel's longest-serving president (1983-1993). In 1975 he was applauded for an unsuccessful defense against a UN resolution equating Zionism with racism.


"I consider this not only an opportunity to support a friend but a long-term investment in the future of our party."

- Former Senate majority leader Bob Dole, on why he is lending $300,000 to pay House Speaker Gingrich's ethics penalty.

Some cutting remarks have landed a Texas man in trouble. To try to help a friend, he donned a police uniform, knocked on a neighbor's door in Hurst, a Fort Worth suburb, and told the residents: "Your grass is making the neighborhood look trashy. Mow it!" He was arrested after they called headquarters to ask if that was normal police business. If convicted, the suspect could get a year in jail and a $4,000 fine for impersonating a cop.

Here's one for when insurance adjusters sit around swapping stories about their favorite claims: A Washington homeowner wanted to get rid of spiders infesting his patio, so he sprayed them with lighter fluid and lit a match. Firefighters put out the blaze, but only after it virtually destroy-ed the patio door frame.

Some New Zealanders were - well - udderly amazed when Commerce Minister John Luxton proposed this solution to the country's vital-statistics problem: Why not use the computers that log dairy cattle births to register the same data for humans? More than 800,000 calves are born there per year, he noted, compared to only about 50,000 babies. Births, marriages, and deaths now are recorded on paper.

The Day's List

Where You'll Pay Most For a Gallon of Gasoline

Planning an overseas vacation this year? Here are some destinations where you'll need plenty of money if you expect to rent a car and buy your own fuel, according to Runzheimer International, a Wisconsin consulting firm (prices in US dollars). By contrast, unleaded regular in Caracas, Venezuela, last month averaged 40 cents a gallon - and $1.27 in the US.

1. Hong Kong $4.84

2. Oslo 4.54

3. Amsterdam 4.39

4. Stockholm 4.31

5. Paris 4.22

6. Reykjavik, Iceland 4.21

7. Brussels 4.20

8. Copenhagen 3.98

9. Vienna 3.80

10. Buenos Aires 3.74

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