The News in Brief

Article excerpt

THE US

The US Air Force announced three commanders in Germany were relieved of duty as a result of an investigation of the plane crash in Croatia that killed Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and 34 others. The brigadier general and two colonels were responsible for overseeing maintenance of the aircraft. The Air Force said its local commander had lost confidence in their ability to perform their duties.

The House dropped plans to vote on holding the White House in contempt over documents related to the travel office firings. President Clinton turned over an 11-page list of documents he has been withholding based on a claim of executive privilege. Also, the House Appropriations Committee approved an $11.9 billion foreign aid budget for 1997. The bill would include a $200 million reduction from 1996, and is $1 billion less than what Clinton requested. The House expects to vote on the bill next week. Also, the House voted for cuts in the $19.7 billion civilian science authorization bill. The cuts would affect programs at the Environmental Protection Agency and Energy Department.

The US economy grew at an annual rate of 2.3 percent in the first quarter of 1996. That's more than four times faster than the rate of growth for the gross domestic product during the fourth quarter of 1994. Also, sales of new homes increased by 6.7 percent in April, exceeding 700,000 for the fourth consecutive month as activity surged in the Northeast. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve said banks are tightening their standards for loaning money because of a rising rate of delinquencies.

US authorities arrested 11 people in an international immigrant smuggling ring. The alleged ringleader, a Honduran woman, earned as much as $1 million a year, The New York Times reported. The illegal immigrants, who paid up to $28,000 each for passage, were ferried across the border to Reynosa, Texas, on inner tubes.

Clinton, in New Orleans, was scheduled to endorse a Justice Department report that supports curfews for youths. He planned to laud a New Orleans curfew for youths under age 17 credited with reducing juvenile crime by 27 percent and lowering auto theft by 42 percent. The government plan would exempt youths who are married, accompanied by an adult, traveling to or from work, responding to an emergency, or participating in a supervised event. Clinton also announced a new program to train teachers in computer use at a Washington ceremony honoring US blue-ribbon schools.

Federal agents evicted reporters and cameramen from a two-mile range of the "freemen" compound in Jordan, Mont. The action took place after a Fox network news crew arranged interviews with the antigovernment group without informing the FBI.

An international group of scientists and physicians in Washington said certain man-made chemicals such as dioxin and PCBs can cause physical and behavioral abnormalities in humans and wildlife. Governments must urgently work to stem the problem, they added. After a week-long meeting in Italy, they said there may be no safe threshold for the chemicals.

Tornados touched down during severe storms in North Carolina and Texas. In Kentucky, officials estimated that 192 homes were destroyed and more than 250 sustained major damage after a tornado tore through suburbs south of Louisville.

The Clinton administration sent letters to Canadian, Mexican, and Italian businesses warning they may be subject to sanctions because of their Cuba investments. In response, visiting British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind and Dutch Deputy Prime Minister Hans van Mierlo decried the law in separate statements in Washington. Mexico also protested US pressure on a company that owns a 49 percent stake in Cuba's phone company.

Community groups, schools, and churches are to descend on Washington tomorrow for the Stand for Children rally. More than 3,000 organizations are sponsoring the event, which includes a children's march to the Lincoln Memorial. …