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News In Brief

The US

Strikers at a Chrysler Corp. auto plant in Detroit plan to vote today on whether to ratify a new local contract with the company. The deal is believed to allow Chrysler to farm out about 250 drive-shaft production jobs to an independent supplier. The strike shut down North American production of some of Chrysler's most profitable vehicles at an estimated cost of $300 million.

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The Senate took steps to remove Clinton administration objections to a $5.5 billion emergency relief bill for disaster victims. It extended welfare payments for legal immigrants until Sept. 30 and changed a provision that would have barred the Census bureau from using sampling methods in the 2000 US census. Meanwhile, the House rejected legislation that would have exempted beach erosion and existing flood-control projects from the Endangered Species Act.

The Republican Party returned $102,400 to a Hong Kong company and acknowledged it has its own problems with foreign contributions. The money had been funneled through a Florida subsidiary. Party chairman Jim Nicholson said the GOP had no reason to believe the contributions might be illegal until recent news stories said that Young Brothers Development USA was a shell company controlled from Hong Kong. The Democratic National Committee has returned nearly $3 million in improper or illegal contributions.

White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles has hinted he may leave his post by the end of the year, The Wall Street Journal reported. He is expected to stay on at least until a balanced-budget agreement is enacted, Deputy Chief of Staff John Podesta said.

An Army drill sergeant at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri was found innocent by a military judge of using threats to extort sexual favors from trainees. But Staff Sgt. Steve Holloway was found guilty of maltreatment, assault and battery, and violating a regulation prohibiting personal relationships with trainees. He faces up to seven years in prison and dishonorable discharge.

A San Francisco federal appeals court ruled that procedures on arresting extradition subjects and denying them bail are unconstitutional. The long-standing federal court practice allows arrest and detention for up to 40 days, based on foreign warrants that state the charges against suspects but do not cite evidence.

World chess champion Garry Kasparov and IBM's Deep Blue computer launch into Game 5 tomorrow in New York after they called a draw in Game 4. It was the second draw in the six-game series. They split the first two games.

Clean-up crews fanned out in Oklahoma, Nebraska, and New Mexico after severe storms and tornados ripped through the states. No injuries were reported.

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Oklahoma put to death the youngest person to be executed since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976. Scott Carpenter pleaded no contest to killing a store clerk before stealing gasoline and snacks. The 22-year-old waived appeals, saying he didn't want to spend the rest of his life in prison, and sent a warning to others not to "stray onto the wrong path in life, as I did."

Only 5 percent of US and Canadian forests are protected from logging and mining, and three-quarters of the region's forests are threatened with extinction, according to a World Wildlife Federation study. The US and Canada must at least double the amount of forest protected by national parks and wilderness areas by 2000, the report says.

A 108-year-old church in Marietta, Ga., with a predominantly black congregation was severely damaged by arson. State officials said the fire at Galilee Missionary Baptist Church outside Atlanta was the seventh suspicious church fire in Georgia this year.

The World

Hundreds of Zaireans were reported killed in heavy fighting east of Kinshasa, as rebels push-ed forward in the absence of President Mobutu. He was in Gabon for talks on the crisis in his country, amid speculation that he wouldn't return. Red Cross officials said many of the casualties at Kenge, 120 miles from the capital, were civilians. Mobutu's government denied claims that it had enlisted mercenaries from France, Angola, and Rwanda to blunt the rebel advance.

Obstacles to resuming the Middle East peace process will be difficult to overcome, US envoy Dennis Ross said after meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Arafat. An Arafat aide said there was no possibility of progress until Israel changed its policy on building Jewish housing settlements.

Prime Minister Bruton of Ireland left a meeting with his new British counterpart, Tony Blair, and called on the Irish Republican Army to declare a new cease-fire. Bruton told the BBC he favored admitting Sinn Fein, the IRA's political ally, to all-party negotiations on the future of Northern Ireland if a truce was called. The talks are to resume June 3.

Bre-X Minerals no longer qualifies to be listed on Canada's largest stock exchange, officials in Toronto said. That capped a week in which Bre-X's gold-mine holdings in Indonesia were evaluated as worthless by an independent testing company, the value of its shares plunged to about six cents, lawsuits were filed by angry investors, and investigations were begun on two continents. Bre-X's market value, once rated at $4.5 billion, now stands at less than $20 million.

Former Premier Jacques Parizeau would have declared Quebec independent of Canada within days if a 1995 vote on separatism had passed, according to excerpts from a new book published in Quebec City. Pari-zeau wrote that he planned to obtain swift diplomatic recognition from France rather than negotiate an economic partnership with the rest of Canada, as promised in referendum campaigning. The measure lost narrowly, and Pari-zeau retired from office. Prime Minister Chretien, a Quebecker, called the plan "incredible."

Hong Kong democracy activists vowed to hold a June 4 ceremony in memory of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, even if the colony's Chinese government-in-waiting bans it. It was not immediately clear whether a ban would be sought by leader-to-be Tung Chee Hwa, but earlier this week he said he disapproved of pro-independence demonstrations in Tibet and on Taiwan.

South Korea's Red Cross planned to ask 38 businesses and charities for emergency food aid for rival North Korea, officials said. They said a meeting would be held as early as Monday to answer the North's demand for a clear indication of how much food would be forthcoming before it agreed to discuss shipment arrangements.

South Africa's mostly white National Party abandoned efforts to attract black voters, saying they had caused "increasing confusion" and were becoming a "threat" to multiparty democracy. The Nationals, who enforced apartheid for decades, won only 20 percent of the vote in the country's first all-race election in 1994 and resigned from President Mandela's coalition government last year.

President Clinton was expected to confer his blessing on a variety of hemispheric trade accords - especially on relaxing commercial air traffic - as a conference of Central American leaders opened in San Jose, Costa Rica. For their part, the others at the summit planned to press Clinton on unpopular new provisions in US immigration law.


"We have gone from surprised to disappointed to just plain angry with the Clinton

administration over their refusal to protect endangered species."

- Mark Hubbard of Oregon's Natural Resources Council, which is suing over lax federal environmental enforcement.

Not being one to - uh - duck responsibility, Christopher McMullin decided he'd better investigate why a quacking mallard kept dodging in front of his moving police cruiser in Bensalem, Pa., a Philadelphia suburb. He realized the critter was trying to get him to follow her. They soon came to a storm drain, where he heard cheeping sounds. Trapped under the grate were nine baby ducks. McMullin and two other officers pried it off and reunited the feathered family.

Delta Air Lines is glad that a certain sixth-grader from Decatur, Ga., isn't enrolled in its frequent-flyer program. The youngster slipped away from school and sneaked onto a flight from Atlanta to Los Angeles. He was return-ed under escort aboard another Delta plane but has a reputation for running away in search of adventure - and, apparently, a definite preference for air travel.

Vic Russo is no fan of American graffiti. The president of Blendex Industrial Corp., a cleaning firm in Bellemore, N.Y., on Long Island, was looking for a way to say thank you to the community for supporting his business for 25 years. So he came up with this solution: His company will remove the scribblings of vandals from houses of worship, for free. Local officials say spray-paint artists targeted 18 churches and synagogues last year.

The Day's List

Films Picked Most Often For Airline Viewing in '96

The most frequently booked feature films for in-flight viewing on commercial airlines last year, according to the World Airline Entertainment Association in Chicago, which tracks about 180 carriers:

1. "The American President"

2. "Mission Impossible"

3. "Sabrina"

4. "Up Close and Personal"

5. "Father of the Bride II"

6. "The Truth About Cats and Dogs"

7. "Sense and Sensibility"

8. "Independence Day"

9. "The Birdcage"

10. "Nine Months"

- Associated Press

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