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News In Brief

The US

President Clinton planned to send a bill to Congress today exempting students who volunteer for a year from paying interest on their college loans during that time. Earlier, Clinton and three former presidents helped to launch a three-day "summit" on volunteerism by joining about 5,000 citizens in cleaning up a Philadelphia street. Activities included removing graffiti, clearing vacant lots, and building a playground. The summit aims to encourage more volunteerism. Earlier, Clinton asked Congress to appropriate $2.5 billion to ensure that every third-grader can read.

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A Hong Kong businessman bailed out the Republican Party in 1994 with a $2.2 million loan guarantee, Time magazine reported. The GOP used the money from Ambrous Tung Young to buy TV ads for the 1994 and 1996 campaigns, it said. Young absorbed a $500,000 loss on the loan in 1996. Former GOP national chairman Haley Barbour denied any wrongdoing by the Republican Party, noting that Young is a US citizen.

Clinton said he'd consider curbing cost-of-living increases for social security recipients in an interview on CBS's "Face the Nation." Such curbs to cut spending could possibly pave the way for a balanced budget deal, he said.

The Red River was expected to crest in St. Vincent, Minn., today at 56 feet. That's six inches below the top of the dike residents built in hopes of keeping their town dry. Across the river, residents of Pembina, N.D., two miles south of the Canadian border, are hoping for a similar outcome. Meanwhile, residents in Grand Forks, N.D., are watching the river recede and assessing the damage. Officials say they hope to start restoring water and electrical service soon.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson will head for Zaire soon to try to arrange peace talks between President Mobutu Sese Seko and rebel leader Laurent Kabila, the White House said. He will also discuss refugee repatriation and human rights in Zaire, spokes-man Mike McCurry said.

Clinton met with Japanese Prime Minister Hashimoto in Washington. The discussion included US bases in Okinawa, regional security, and trade. At an earlier news conference with Hashimoto, Clinton implored communist North Korea to enter peace talks with the South and indicated the US could help rebuild the country's struggling economy.

Officials from the Group of Seven industrialized nations opened a meeting in Washington with strong concerns about the strength of the US dollar. When they last met in Berlin in February, the officials signaled the dollar had risen far enough. The G-7 is meeting in conjunction with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

A federal judge in Greensboro, N.C., ruled that the government can regulate tobacco as a drug. But William Osteen also decided the government may not restrict cigarette advertising. Both the government and tobacco industry said they would appeal the landmark decision. - one that legal scholars say could eventually end up before the US Supreme Court.

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The head of the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta said he'd consider an offer to become surgeon general and assistant secretary of health. Dr. David Stacher is Clinton's first choice to fill the dual role, White House officials said on condition of anonymity. Also, Massachusetts Gov. William Weld (R) will accept the post of US ambassador to Mexico. Clinton is expected to nominate him formally later this week.

The Air Force is still searching for clues as to why an A-10 jet piloted by Capt. Craig Button flew 800 miles off course and crashed in the Colorado Rockies. Experts are trying to identify human remains that were found in the plane.

The World

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu refused to call new elections and said he would "correct whatever needs to be corrected" after the influence-peddling scandal that has rocked his 11-month-old government. Meanwhile, an annual opinion poll found that for the first time a majority - 51 percent - of Israeli respondents favored the establishment of a Palestinian state. The survey was conducted prior to the start of construction on a Jewish settlement on disputed land in southeastern Jerusalem.

Zairean rebel leader Laurent Kabila told UN officials he knew the whereabouts of tens of thousands of Rwandan Hutus who fled their refugee camps last week. But his troops again block-ed aid workers from going to areas where the refugees were believed to be, and it was not immediately clear whether Kabila would allow relief supplies to be taken to them.

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrtien was expected to call new elections for June 2. He was due back in Ottawa from a trip to Manitoba, where he inspected flooding preparations, to meet with Governor-General Romeo LeBlanc and ask for Parliament to be dissolved. Chrtien is not required to schedule a national election for more than a year, but is believed to want to take advantage of recent polls, which show his Liberal Party with a large lead over its rivals.

Campaigning for Indonesia's national elections got under way despite the beating death of a ruling party member in the disputed territory of East Timor and a related protest march that turn-ed violent. On the main island of Java, officials of President Suharto's Golkar Party called the May 29 vote a "festival of democracy."

Controversial South African politician Winnie Madikizela-Mandela easily won reelection as leader of the Women's League of the African National Congress. The former wife of President Mandela had kept a low profile since her divorce and dismissal as deputy minister of arts, culture, and technology in 1995. Analysts said the victory proved she remained a political force despite being linked to scandals that have embarrassed the ANC and her ex-husband.

Amid reports of violence, voters in Yemen turned out for the country's first general election since its 1994 civil war. A soldier was arrested for killing seven people at one polling station, and fighting broke out among voters at others. At stake were 301 seats in parliament and what analysts said was a hoped-for stability that might attract foreign investment to the impoverished Arab nation.

To stem a tide of people moving from rural areas to overcrowded Havana, the Cuban government announced imposition of a new permit system. New arrivals must have the prior permission of city authorities as well as of the owners of the homes where they plan to live. Of the country's 11 million people, almost 2.5 million live in the capital - among them 27,000 who arrived last year looking for jobs.

Three leading members of French Guiana's independence movement were charged with setting fire to the home of the state prosecutor during rioting that shook the territory in November. Their arrest and deportation to the Caribbean island of Martinique last week caused new violence that left one civilian and 11 policemen wounded.

Peng Zhen, who died April 26 in Beijing, was remembered as one of China's so-called "eight immortals." The former mayor and Communist Party chief of Beijing overcame a purge by Mao Zedong in the Cultural Revolution of the 1970s to become one of the nation's most revered political figures. Analysts said his passing removed one more curb on the power of younger leaders such as President Jiang Zemin.


"It is not a disgrace to pick up trash [or] paint over graffiti.... It's an exultation of a human being to do manual labor side by side with people who are in need."

- Former President Jimmy Carter, while helping to kick off a "summit" on volunteering in Philadelphia.

Perhaps in the belief that you can't be too careful these days, a senior citizen in the former Soviet republic of Moldova chose an unusual but potentially effective instrument of self-defense to carry on her way to market. Was it a shrill whistle? A can of chemical Mace? Perhaps some pepper spray? No: a hand grenade. Police, acting on a tip, confiscated it without incident.

True story: Some professional firefighters in North Carolina were entertaining lawmakers at a luncheon in Raleigh, the capital, to lobby for improved retirement benefits when their catering truck caught fire. It was carrying - what else? - firehouse chili. One of the hosts grabbed a fire extinguisher that was serving as a table decoration and doused the blaze.

Then there was what happened to Judy Somonick. The Indiana, Pa., resident was relaxing at home when firefighters pounded on her front door. It seems a passerby had seen flames through her living room window and telephoned 911. It took some convincing before they understood that the only blaze was part of a David Copperfield magic show she was watching on television.

The Day's List

Ithaca, N.Y., Ranked Most Progressive City

These are the 10 most "enlightened" communities in the US, according to the May/June issue of Utne Reader, a digest of alternative ideas. It looked for places that "foster connectedness and contentment among all the people who live in them" through such means as alternative services, ethnically and culturally diversified government, and an anti-sprawl approach to urban planning.

1. Ithaca, N.Y.

2. Portland, Ore.

3. Durham, N.C.

4. Burlington, Vt.

5. Madison, Wis.

6. Arcata, Calif.

7. Portland, Maine

8. Iowa City, Iowa

9. Providence, R.I.

10. Chattanooga, Tenn.

- Associated Press

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