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News In Brief

The US

The US Supreme Court rejected a challenge to a Minnesota school district's operation of a rural school rented from a religious sect and attended only by children of sect members. The justices, without comment, turned away arguments that the arrangement in the town of Vesta violates the constitutionally required separation of church and state.

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Bank of New York's effort to take over Mellon Bank entered a new phase after the Mellon board formally rejected a $24 billion merger offer. Sources said Bank of New York officials would not launch a hostile bid but instead would ask Mellon's institutional shareholders to pressure the Pittsburgh-based bank into accepting the proposal.

Education Secretary Richard Riley was expected to announce opposition to a California ballot measure that would dismantle the state's bilingual education programs. The Los Angeles Times quoted a Clinton administration official as saying Proposition 227 is an "extreme" approach "likely to result in fewer kids learning English." It would require one year of English-only instruction for those with limited proficiency, after which most students would be placed in regular English-only classrooms.

The administration was expected to issue a report on smoking by minority youth prepared by Surgeon General David Satcher. It shows smoking rates are rising three times more quickly among minority teens than among their white peers, CNN reported. Meanwhile, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Orrin Hatch (R) of Utah criticized a proposed tobacco bill, saying on NBC that his committee will hear testimony tomorrow that a proposed $1.10-per-pack fee on cigarettes - aimed at curbing teen smoking - would cost a husband and wife more than $1,000 a year if they each smoked a pack a day.

The personal-computer industry continued to expand during the first quarter, two market-research firms reported. International Data Corp. and Dataquest Inc. said an appetite for inexpensive PCs helped push shipments worldwide and in the US into the double digits during the three-month period. The preliminary results were especially welcome in light of warnings by some companies of disappointing earnings and excess inventories.

An annual party weekend at the University of Connecticut at Storrs culminated in a riot - with students pelting police with rocks and beer bottles, setting a car on fire, smashing windshields, and vandalizing buildings. Police arrested 58 people from Thursday to Sunday. It was not immediately clear how many were students.

Defense Secretary William Cohen predicted widespread furloughs of civilian military employees if Congress fails to approve a multibillion-dollar emergency-spending bill by early May. The measure would replenish Pentagon funds strained by US deployments in Bosnia and the Persian Gulf.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright begins a week-long Asia tour today with a stop in Japan, where she is expected to push officials in Tokyo to open up markets to exports from abroad. Albright will be the first senior US official to visit Japan since the government announced a major economic stimulus package. Her scheduled itinerary will also take her to China, Mongolia, and South Korea.

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Denver International Airport's computerized passenger trains broke down for seven hours, causing mass confusion among thousands of travelers after a loose wheel damaged a routing cable. Passengers were shuttled to and from outlying concourses on buses until trains were back in use.

The World

German Chancellor Kohl faced down the only call for him to abandon his bid for a fifth term after his Christian Democratic Union absorbed another overwhelming defeat in state elections. Only 22 percent of the votes in Saxony-Anhalt went to the CDU - a 12 percent drop from the last election there, in 1994. It was the CDU's third straight defeat in state elections this spring. Kohl reportedly told members of the party's executive committee that this was their last chance to replace him as standard-bearer for the September national election.

Iraq's foreign minister was to address the UN Security Council, one day after the Baghdad government said it would cut rations for its 22 million people because of new problems with its oil-for-food program. Iraq is again demanding the lifting of UN sanctions imposed after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The Security Council was expected to review the sanctions for the first time in a year, but informed sources said no change is likely because UN inspectors continue to report "virtually no progress" in verifying that Iraq has dismantled its strategic weapons program.

Complaining that implementation of the new Northern Ireland peace accord is going too slowly, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams met in London with British Prime Minister Blair. Adams said he'd ask for the immediate withdrawal of British troops from Catholic districts in the province.

Agreement on how to proceed with peace negotiations was reached by Afghanistan's Taliban religious movement and a coalition of opposition factions fighting it for control of the northern region of the country. Meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan, the two sides agreed to discuss a cease-fire, an exchange of prisoners, and a Taliban blockade that threatens hundreds of thousands of people with starvation.

Criticism of US policies toward Cuba was the focus of remarks by President Castro and Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrtien as the latter arrived in Havana for an official visit. Aides to Chrtien, however, said he found Castro's comparison of the US embargo to Nazi genocide "excessive." Chrtien's visit, the first by a Canadian leader to Cuba in 24 years, is seen as a public-relations victory for the Communist-ruled island in its attempt to emerge from the diplomatic isolation the US seeks to impose.

Riot police reinforced by Army troops used water cannon, rubber bullets, and tear gas on college students at Medan and on the island of Lombok, Indonesia, in some of the most violent anti-Suharto protests in weeks. Generally peaceful demonstrations against the seven-term president have been held daily since mid-February, but observers say the students appear increasingly willing to test a ban on leaving campus.

In what legal analysts called a landmark ruling, a Japanese court ordered the government to compensate three Korean women who were forced to provide sexual favors for Imperial Army troops during World War II. Each woman is to receive $2,272. Up to now, the Tokyo government has refused to issue any direct financial payments, arguing that peace treaties ending the war had settled all compensation claims. Several similar cases still are pending in the courts.

Long lines of consumers formed at stores, gas stations, and other businesses across Denmark as 550,000 union members and their sympathizers began a general strike. The strikers' chief demand is for a sixth week of paid vacation per year. Analysts said the effects of the walkout would quickly be felt throughout Europe if it lasted more than a few days.

Five "simultaneous" explosions late Sunday night in Bogot, Colombia, killed a street child and partially destroyed the campaign headquarters of two presidential candidates. There was no claim of responsibility. But suspicion fell on leftist guerrillas, who disrupted local elections last October and the balloting for seats in Congress last month.


"We respectfully disagree about who's got the best strategy."

- White House spokesman Mike McCurry, on Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrtien's visit to Cuba and his policy of engagement as a means of restoring democracy to the island.

You wouldn't think a quiet, rural, one-industry town would have an identity crisis. But Erving, Mass., does. The paper-mill community, an hour-or-so drive west of Boston has only 800 households . . . but two ZIP codes. Erving's post office, which is actually in 01349, delivers mail to residents in the eastern end - where the code is 01344. Mail for western Erving is delivered via neighboring Millers Falls. Yes, there is a move to unify the two, and it's expected to zip through the approval process.

Architects for Hilton International are busy trying to - you might say - eclipse any other design they've ever produced. The concept: a 5,000-bed hotel with a dome shape, solar power, and its own private beach. Hilton hasn't closed the deal for the land yet, though. It's on the moon.

In Athens, Ga., for a professional rodeo, contestants got in an extra warm-up. They were enlisted to help round up some of the cows pranksters had set loose on the University of Georgia campus. One of them was cornered on the football practice field, where it was having difficulty trying to graze on the artificial turf.

The Day's List

GOP Eyes Nine Cities as Possible Convention Site

The Republican National Committee has narrowed a list of potential sites for the party's 2000 presidential nominating convention from 25 to nine. A site-selection committee will begin visits this summer to examine facilities and services available in each city. The group will make its recommendations in November, but formal approval is not expected until the national committee's winter meeting in January. The remaining competitors, in alphabetical order:

Charlotte, N.C.



Los Angeles


New Orleans

New York


San Antonio

- Associated Press

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