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News In Brief

The US

President Clinton urged racial harmony and set up a panel to study the issue. It will be the government's most in-depth look at race since the 1967 Kerner Commission.

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A study panel found no evidence of a racial conspiracy in church burnings. The National Church Arson Task Force said of 199 people arrested in 1996 for burnings - mostly of churches with black congregations - 160 were white. But it found no other connection linking them. It also said the rate of church fires has slowed, from 298 in 1996 to 82 so far this year.

The Supreme Court let stand a law that protects abortion clinic staff and their clients from harassment or intimidation. It also made it easier for convicts to get a new trial if their judge is later convicted of bribery. And it agreed to hear a case on whether federal civil rights law protects against same-sex harassment in the workplace.

Microsoft will invest $1 billion in cable giant Comcast, both companies announced. The deal could bring digital TV, high-speed Internet access, and online services into many more US homes.

Timothy McVeigh's family and friends testified in an effort to keep the man convicted of the Oklahoma City bombing from being executed. The sentencing phase of his trial could go to the jury by the end of the week.

The USS Liberty's skipper called for a full accounting of the 1967 Israeli raid that destroyed the intelligence ship. Capt. William McGonagle broke a long silence to claim the incident wasn't "a case of mistaken identity" - as Israel says - but resulted from "gross incompetence." The US has accepted Israel's apology for the raid.

"The United States would very much like to have a different policy toward Cuba," Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said. But she said the communist island's leader, Fidel Castro, would have to make the first move toward a thaw.

John Stockton's clutch 3-pointer and 80-foot pass to Karl Malone led the Utah Jazz over the Chicago Bulls in Game Four of the NBA finals in Salt Lake City. With the series tied, 2-2, the teams play in Utah tomorrow.

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Officials were set to release letters claiming responsibility for two Atlanta bombings. They hoped someone could identify the author or authors - referred to as the "Army of God" in the letters - who planted bombs at an abortion clinic, a gay nightclub, and perhaps Centennial Park last summer.

Parents still find it tough to find quality TV shows for kids, despite new federal rules and ratings, the Annenberg Public Policy Center said. It said many shows tagged "educational" really aren't, because advertisers often balk at high-quality programs. It suggested parents watch for "educational" fare and give broadcasters feedback on quality.

In an about-face, the American Cancer Society said it was "encouraged" by plans for a settlement with tobacco firms and hoped state attorneys general would open discussions to the public and Congress. It was the first public-health group to show support for a proposed deal.

Indian casinos may be taxed under a proposal offered by House Republicans. Indian-operated casino revenues reportedly soared from $125 million in 1985 to $4.5 billion in 1995. Last year Congress failed to enact a 35 percent casino tax that would have raised $345 million. Senate majority leader Trent Lott is among the plan's opponents.

Investigators said a train wreck near Scary, W.Va., was caused either by human error or a broken signal. A train carrying hazardous waste rear-ended a coal train Sunday and exploded, causing an intense fire. It forced hundreds of people to seek shelter inside their homes, while others were evacuated. One person died in the wreck. Officials were searching for the data recorders from both trains.

The World

Israel will bring construction of Jewish housing in a disputed section of Jerusalem to a near-halt so that peace talks with Palestinians can resume, the influential newspaper Haaretz reported. The move was seen as a face-saving way for the two sides to meet again after negotiations broke off in March when the construction began. The compromise was reached in Cairo, although the paper said terms were not yet final.

The capital of the Congo Republic shook from mortar fire in another day of intense fighting. Witnesses reported that government troops had lost much of their hold on Brazzaville as militiamen loyal to a former president seized broadcasting stations and erected barricades on many of the city's streets. French transport planes evacuated an estimated 360 foreigners, but hundreds more were waiting to flee.

Workers in Sierra Leone defied a military order to return to their jobs or be fired as efforts to reverse the coup that toppled President Kabbah's government intensified. Coup leaders sought to head off another assault by Nigerian-led international forces by appealing to the UN and to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.

German Chancellor Kohl's coalition partners pledged continued support for his government as reports surfaced that he had threatened to resign over stubborn budget deficits. They undermine Germany's efforts to qualify for a single European currency by 1999. Former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt called on Kohl to resign and "make room for people with new ideas."

Turkey's troops will have all the financial backing they need for the ongoing campaign against Kurdish rebels in neighboring Iraq, Prime Minister Erbakan said. Erbakan, who's feuding with the military over the influence of Islam on Turkish life, denied telling reporters that the three-week-old operation in Iraq was almost over. Word that he had drew a public contradiction from the country's deputy chief of staff. At least 95 soldiers have died in the controversial mission, according to official reports.

Five members of the Japanese Red Army terrorist group went on trial in Beirut amid a highly charged political atmosphere. They were harbored for years by leftist groups and Palestinian guerrillas after allegedly entering Lebanon on forged visas and residence permits. The Red Army's support for Arab and Palestinian causes has won the defendants the backing of many Lebanese.

Saying "I will never agree to pardon Pol Pot," Cambodian King Sihanouk sought to clarify reports that a new peace deal with communist Khmer Rouge rebels was being negotiated by senior military officers. Pol Pot is the secretive leader blamed for the deaths of more than a million Cambodians while his forces ruled the country from 1975 to 1979. Sihanouk left the door open to an amnesty for another Khmer Rouge leader, Khieu Samphan, although the latter has denied that a deal is near.

Voters overwhelmingly rejected a referendum that would have banned Switzerland from exporting weapons of war. The measure, which backers said would help offset criticism of the country's World War II ties with Nazi Germany, failed by a 77 percent to 23 percent margin. The government argued that passage would cost thousands of jobs at a time of lingering recession.

A confidence vote on the government of the Czech Republic will likely be close, political analysts in Prague said. The vote, expected as early as today in parliament, could topple Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, whose efforts to reform the economy have been undercut by weeks of turbulence in foreign exchange markets. Klaus called the vote himself to head off opposition efforts to bring down the government. He was meeting with his coalition partners to bargain for their support.


"... not eating, not sleeping, and being the scardest I've ever been in my life means I'm very glad to be out."

- Peace Corps volunteer Jennifer Rikert, after escaping the intense street fighting in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo.

A kindergarten class in Natick, Mass., winding down the school year with a lesson on oceans, put a letter inside a bottle and tossed it into the Atlantic, asking the finder to write back. The bottle wash-ed up at Newport, R.I., where it was retrieved by Connor Sullivan. He also is a kindergarten pupil, and guess what his teacher was preparing for the class? Yup: a lesson on oceans.

Speaking of education, Providence Mayor Vincent Cianci Jr. delivered the commencement address at the Rhode Island School of Design, knowing that one of its graduates was the driver who plowed into the fence in front of his house early that morning, knocking down 30 feet of it and then leaving the scene of the accident. Cianci said nothing about it in his speech and asked police to make no arrest until after the diplomas were awarded.

Rain and puddles in the stands didn't stop a special promotion Sunday in Cincinnati for the baseball game between the Reds and New York Mets. The game was washed out, but not before more than one of the first 7,500 fans 14 or under amused themselves with the handout: a fishing rod.

The Day's List

The Bronx Listed Among Top 10 All-America Cities

The Bronx, the gritty New York City borough that former President Carter once called "the worst slum in America," has made the National Civic League's list of top10 All-American cities. They are chosen for their citizen-participation, diversity, and educational programs, among other criteria. Each winning city receives a $10,000 grant. The selected cities (in alphabetical order by state):

Fremont, Calif.

Hillside neighborhood, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Aberdeen, Md.

St. Joseph, Mo.

Asheville, N.C.

Statesville, N.C.

Bismarck, N.D.

The Bronx, N.Y.

Aiken, S.C.

Texas City, Texas

- Associated Press

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