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News In Brief

The US

Democrats took their case for swift approval of a simplified disaster-relief bill to the public in an all-night talkathon that featured live interviews and on-line chat. The move came after majority leader Trent Lott adjourned the Senate in mid-afternoon rather than allow Democrats to debate the issue all night on the Senate floor. President Clinton vetoed the $8.6 billion disaster-relief bill because it contained GOP-sponsored provisions to prevent a government shutdown and require traditional person-by-person census counts.

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Divisions emerged in both parties over the scope and details of tax relief. The disputes came as the House Ways and Means committee was to take up a proposal by Rep. Bill Archer of Texas, the chief GOP tax writer in the House, for a net $85 billion tax cut over five years.

A government audit of the US Medicare program has found an estimated $23 billion in improper payments, The Wall Street Journal reported. The figure, calculated by the inspector general's office of the Department of Health and Human Services, suggests that fraud, abuse, and bookkeeping lapses eat up more of the Medicare budget than previously thought.

Randy Tate will take over as the Christian Coalition's executive director when Ralph Reed steps down Sept. 1, conservative and Republican sources said on condition of anonymity. Tate, a Washington State Republican, pushed to make English the official US language during the one term he spent in Congress.

Investigators seeking Jewish assets lost during the Nazi era were told that more than 200 additional accounts possibly belonging to Holocaust victims have been found in Swiss banks. Elan Steinberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress, confirmed a report in The New York Times that additional accounts worth $8 million had been discovered.

Traffic-safety officials urged state governments to toughen seat-belt laws, beef up enforcement, and require children under 13 to sit in the back seats of cars. The nonbinding recommendations by the National Transportation Safety Board were among some two dozen adopted in an effort to cut traffic fatalities.

The House approved a major change in US policy governing weapons sales. In a voice vote, the House adopted an amendment to a State Department authorization bill that would create a "code of conduct" requiring nations seeking to buy US arms to protect human rights and not engage in armed aggression.

Tisha Byars was inducted into the National Honor Society after a judge ruled that keeping her out would violate her civil rights. Byars sued the Waterbury, Conn., school district after being denied membership in the Wilby High School society last year for what she says was a refusal to recite the pledge of allegiance. The school, which has since allowed students to remain seated during the pledge, vowed to defend itself in a trial that could come in the fall.

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A Pennsylvania couple who shun medicine were convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to at least 2-1/2 years in prison for relying on prayer in an unsuccessful effort to treat a daughter's illness. Dennis and Lorie Nixon, who are affiliated with the Faith Tabernacle Congregation in Altoona, were free on bond while appealing the sentence, which followed the death of their daughter, Shannon. In 1991 the Nixons were put on probation after the death of an eight-year-old son.

Robert Colby Nelson, who passed on last week, served the Monitor with distinction in a variety of senior newspaper and broadcasting posts. During his 39-year career, Mr. Nelson was the paper's Midwest bureau chief, national news editor, and managing editor for features. He was awarded a Nieman fellowship at Harvard University in 1969. During his tour as national news editor, the paper won two Pulitzer Prizes for national reporting. In 1986 Nelson moved to the Monitor's broadcast activities and served as anchor of "The Christian Science Monitor Reports," a weekly half-hour TV news program, and as anchor of Monitor Radio's "Daily Edition." He retired in 1992.

The World

It was not clear whether a unilateral cease-fire in the Congo Republic was holding. Despite a truce declaration by President Pascal Lissouba after a week of fighting in Brazzaville between his Army and a militia loyal to former dictator Denis Sassou-Nguesso, shooting was heard near the presidential palace. France ordered 400 more troops to the capital to help evacuate foreigners.

In blunt terms, Turkey's powerful armed forces said they were legally obliged to fight Islamic radicalism. Counterintelligence chief Fevzi Turkeri told journalists that "30 radical Islamic groups are likely to engage" in terrorism with financial and logistical support from Iran, Libya, Sudan, and Saudi Arabia. He cited passages from the constitution that allow the armed forces to use weapons "and determine a worst-case scenario."

China ended months of speculation and announced that President Jiang Zemin would attend ceremonies marking the handover of Hong Kong July 1. Meanwhile, the colony's Urban Council rejected an application by political activists to stage a downtown rally on the day of the handover. The Alliance in Support of the Patriotic Democratic Movement in China said it still plans a march through the city.

Suspicion fell on the Irish Republican Army for the murder in Belfast of a former Protestant guerrilla leader. Robert Bates was shot at a welfare center for former pro-British paramilitary groups. He was on parole after 17 years in prison for his role in the deaths of 14 Catholics in the 1970s. At the time of his own death, Bates reportedly advocated political dialogue to solve the region's problems.

Voter-registration centers in a disputed Bosnian town were shut down amid reports that many Serbs had presented suspicious identity documents. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is supervising September's municipal elections in Brcko, said all voters who registered at the centers likely would have to complete the process again. Serbs seized Brcko in 1992 and have blocked the return of its former Muslim and Croat residents.

The Taliban religious army lost another key city in northern Afghanistan, witnesses said. Pul-e-Khmuri fell after heavy fighting with enemy forces. After the loss of Mazar-e-Sharif last month, the latest development means the confrontation line between the Islamic fundamentalist movement and its opponents is back to where it was at the start of the year.

In a new split in Khmer Rouge ranks, security chief Son Sen was accused of treason. Senior leader Khieu Samphan said in a radio broadcast that Son Sen and his wife had supplied details on remaining Khmer Rouge units to the Cambodian government. It was not clear whether the couple had been arrested by the guerrillas, whose numbers have shrunk to an estimated 2,000. About 10,000 Khmer Rouge defected to the government last August.

Three Filipino opposition parties joined forces to compete in next year's elections after the Supreme Court barred President Fidel Ramos from seeking a second term. The court rejected a petition calling for constitutional change so Ramos could run again. He has denied interest in a new term, but did not stop aides from trying to amend the charter.

Over the objections of unions and the business sector, Sweden's parliament approved the phase-out of nuclear power beginning next year. Nuclear reactors supply half of Sweden's electricity, and the vote is contro- versial because it will eliminate jobs and does not specify how cheap energy will be supplied afterward. Prime Minister Goran Persson's government in Stockholm announced the plan earlier this year in a move to appease opposition parties whose support it needs to stay in power.


"I've seen some great pitching in my day. This ranks right up there with the all-time bests."

- Florida Marlins manager Jim Leyland, after Kevin Brown threw a 9-0 no-hitter against the San Francisco Giants.

Richard Brady of Boston calls neighbor Michael Story a hero for summoning firefighters to save his house. Michael spotted smoke, rac-ed to the nearest alarm box, and pulled the lever. End of story? Not quite. To do his good deed he had to stand on the seat of his tricycle because he's too small to reach the alarm.

A truck driver with a chip on his shoulder voluntarily returned his cargo to a Hyannis, Mass., snack-food company, ending a week-long protest over a pay dispute. He was to have delivered the load to a buyer in Hyde Park, N.Y., but allegedly hijacked it instead and spud - er, sped - into hiding in hopes of chipping away at the trucking firm's resistance. The tactic didn't work. The shipper, Cape Cod Potato Chips, says it won't resell the order.

Gyda Kaland received her orders on where to report for duty in case Norway's Army reservists need to be mobilized for a national emergency. To tote a rifle? No. It seems the Army maintains a list of civilian vehicles that could prove useful in wartime, and her name is on it because she recently bought a tractor. She says she would do her best to help defend Norway even though she's two years shy of 100.

The Day's List

Where Americans Say They Most Want to Live

A new Louis Harris Poll asked a nationwide sample of 1,034 adults which state they would most like to live in if they could not stay in their own. Their preferences, announced by the firm earlier this week:

1. Florida

2. Arizona

3. California

4. Colorado

5. Tennessee

6. North Carolina

7. Hawaii

8. Washington

9. Oregon

10. Texas

11. Georgia

12. New Mexico

13. New York

14. Virginia

15. Alaska

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