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News In Brief

The US

Saying "I don't know anything about it," President Clinton shrugged off questions about the the announcement of a Justice Department review of his role in alleged campaign-finance abuses. The White House said Saturday that the 30-day process would lead to a determination on whether to hold a longer investigation. The second phase then could result in the appointment of an independent prosecutor. Clinton has said he doesn't remember whether he made political fund-raising phone calls from his White House office.

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Vice President Gore, also confronting allegations that he made fund-raising calls from his office, hired two attorneys to defend him. Jim Neal of Nashville, Tenn., a longtime family friend, and former Assistant Secretary of the Interior George Frampton were to advise him on the Justice Department's review of his case. Meanwhile, Gore said the administration plans to deny federal contracts to companies that interfere in union-organizing elections. He spoke prior to the opening of the biennial AFL-CIO convention in Pittsburgh.

Air Force combat training flights were to be suspended today for a service-wide safety review - four days earlier than first planned. The standdown was moved forward after the crash in eastern Montana Friday of a B-1B bomber, the sixth accident involving US military aircraft in less than a week. All four crew members aboard the B-1 were killed. The plane was based at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S. Dak.

Senior Republicans in Congress bridled at Clinton's vow to veto bills that would block funding for national educational testing standards or weaken federal efforts to improve public schools. His plan to test elementary public-school students in reading and math was blocked last week when a coalition of House conservatives, blacks, and Hispanics voted 295 to 125 to deny funding for one year on the testing program. Rep. William Goodling (R) of Pennsylvania said the House would "stand firm" in its opposition to federal testing.

Treasury Secretary Rubin and Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan demanded that Japan address its surging trade surplus and weak domestic demand for goods and services. At meetings in Hong Kong of the G-7 finance ministers and International Monetary Fund, they pressured the Tokyo government to reconsider its strategy of using deep budget cuts, easy credit, and the weak yen to reverse the nation's downward economic growth trend.

A Cape Cod., Mass., town was drafting its response to plans by a Kansas church group for a rally against homosexuality next month. The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, known nationally for organizing such pro-tests, said it would picket peace- fully with signs against a public-school project in Provincetown designed to encourage tolerance toward homosexuals.

Alone and unarmed, a member of the Republic of Texas separatist group was captured near Houston, police said. Richard Keyes had eluded authorities since early May after others in his group surrendered or were killed in a standoff with police 450 miles away in rural west Texas. Keyes was to be returned to the area today to await trial for organized criminal activity and kidnapping.

Fifty-one Mexicans, in the US illegally, were arrested in suburban St. Louis, the Immigration and Naturalization Service announced. They were employed by a landscaping service. Meanwhile, in Greensboro, N.C., two deaf Mexican immigrants awaited sentencing after pleading guilty to conspiracy to smuggle their countrymen into the US. Authorities said the recruits were expected to peddle trinkets on the street and at shopping malls and to bring in at least $100 a day.

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Police near Cincinnati detained 18 people who were pro-testing a rally by a white supremacist group. Members and supporters of the Aryan Nations had a legal permit for the rally on the Butler County Courthouse steps in Hamilton, Ohio. Off-duty police were recruited from as far away as Cleveland to provide security in anticipation of trouble. The rally was called "to protest the coddling of minorities."

The World

Philippine President President Fidel Ramos renounced his bid to amend the Constitution and seek a second term after half a million protesters massed in a Manila park. It was the biggest protest since Filipinos ousted the late Ferdinand Marcos in a "people power" revolt in 1986. Term limits then were set to discourage new dictatorships. The Manila rally was organized by the Roman Catholic Church.

By a margin of 7,000 votes the Welsh voted to create their first separate assembly in 600 years. Officials put the turnout at 50 percent of those registered to vote. Last week Scotland overwhelmingly approved a 129-member parliament independent of Britain. But unlike Wales, the Scots will have power to make laws and raise. Both new parliaments will be seated by 2000.

Iran resumed scheduled flights to Saudi Arabia after 18 years, a further sign of improving ties between Tehran and its Arab neighbors. Since the 1979 revolution that brought Islamic fundamentalists to power in Iran only charter flights for Hajj pilgrims had operated between the two countries.

Russia offered the US joint monitoring control for the Bushir nuclear power plant, which Moscow is helping to build in Iran. Suspicious of Tehran's nuclear weapons program, the US has repeatedly urged Moscow to abandon the project. Meanwhile, Western nations criticized Russia for legislation to restrict religious faiths that have not been active there for 15 years. The US Senate threatened to block $200 million in aid if the bill became law.

Reform was expected to be a major issue at the annual UN General Assembly debate, opening today in New York. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has proposed a plan to streamline the world body, much of which requires approval by member nations. Meanwhile, spirits were up at the financially-squeezed UN after media mogul Ted Turner pledged $1 billion over 10 years for childrens' programs, land- mine removal, and assisting refugees. The gift cannot be used for administrative costs.

Arab states vowed again not to participate in an economic conference with Israel unless progress was made in the Mid-east peace process. At the 22-nation Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo, Syria asked for a complete boycott of the November conference, which aims at strengthening economic cooperation between Arabs and Israel. It will be held in Doha, Qatar.

The global economy will continue to expand, according to a draft communique of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund annual meeting held in Hong Kong. The report also warned the US of possible inflation risks and advised European nations to support rising domestic demand.

Two protesters were killed when Lebanese police tried to close an unlicensed broadcasting station owned by a a fundamentalist Sunni Muslim cleric. Opposition groups complain that authorities are trying to muzzle the media by refusing to grant licenses to all opposition radio stations.

About a million people rallied in Milan to show their opposition to Italy's separatist movement. At a smiliar rally in Venice, trade-union organizers estimated the crowd at between 50,000 and 80,000.

North Korea said the US should provide food aid as a sign of goodwill after the breakdown of talks leading to a permanent peace treaty between the rival Koreas. The discussions, which took place in New York last week, were halted after North Korea insisted the talks must include the issue of the withdrawal of 37,000 US troops based in South Korea.

Suspected Muslim militants killed another 53 civilians in Algeria, news reports said. The massacre took place in Beni-Slimane, 40 miles south of Algiers.

"... in many circles it is not popular to talk about raising money for political purposes. But I believe it is an honor to support the political process of the United States ..."

- Hillary Rodham Clinton, at a fund-raiser in San Francisco, thanking contributors to the Democratic Party.


A Torrance, Calif., family has a new appreciation for the meaning of disposable income, thanks to two honest sanitation workers. Keith Kalkanoff and Vincent Madrigal found a wallet stuffed with $5,873 in a Los Angeles alley. They turned it over to a supervisor, who drove to the address on forms of identification inside and asked the couple who lived there if they'd lost anything. They had: the money for their daughter's college tuition.

Another means of getting their money back is being tried by banks in Baltimore, which has one of the nation's highest robbery rates. It's all very hush-hush, but reports say radio-activated microchip tracking devices are hidden in packs of currency - just in case. Police already have caught at least one robber with the system, which also eliminates the need for messy exploding red dye.

But bankers aren't always right on the money. At last week's meeting of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund in Hong Kong, organizers paid $3,875 to rent 100 standard typewriters for journalists covering the high-profile gathering. A check of the press room found exactly two of them in use. Every other reporter there had a laptop computer.

The Day's List

Birds Most Likely to Turn Up at Backyard Feeders

In what Cornell University calls the world's largest citizen science program, US householders report the bird species most often seen at their backyard feeders between November and April, when naturally occurring sources of food are scarce. The percentage of sightings by the 70,000 respondents to the latest survey, now in its 11th year:

1. Dark-eyed junco 83.0%

2. House finch 70.1%

3. American goldfinch 69.5%

4. Downy woodpecker 69.1%

5. Blue jay 66.5%

6. Mourning dove 64.9%

7. Black-capped chickadee 59.6%

8. House sparrow 59.4%

9. Northern cardinal 56.4%

10. European starling 52.6%

- Associated Press

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