The News in Brief

Article excerpt

The US

Cross-examination resumed in a Denver courtroom of the prosecution's star witness in the Oklahoma City bombing trial. Defense attorney Stephen Jones suggested that Michael Fortier slanted his testimony to receive a more lenient sentence for lesser charges associated with the bombing. Earlier, the former Army buddy of defendant Timothy McVeigh testified that McVeigh plotted the bombing and had cased the Murrah Federal Building months before the blast.

Congressional committees plan to begin considering a budget accord today negotiated between President Clinton and Republican leaders a few weeks ago. The plan leaves key issues unresolved, such as the size of education tax breaks and the income ceiling for Medicaid. The White House announced Clinton "could support" a Democratic alternative to a bill he vetoed last year to ban some late-term abortions. The Senate planned to begin debate on new Republican legislation to ban the procedure. The administration said it's seriously considering an alternative proposed by Senate minority leader Tom Daschle (D) of South Dakota, which would ban all late-term abortions except when the mother's life is at risk or when "grievious injury" would result from continuing the pregnancy. Russian Defense Minister Igor Rodionov is to meet with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright today after talks with US officials at the Pentagon. The talks are expected to range from increased defense ties to nuclear arms cuts and security in Europe and the Pacific. A meeting between Rodinov and Defense Secretary Cohen came a day after The Washington Times cited a confidential CIA report that said some Russian strategic nuclear missiles accidentally went on alert status because of deteriorating technical equipment. Retail sales fell 0.3 percent in April, the biggest decline since a 0.5 percent drop last June, the Commerce Department reported. Analysts attributed the drop to the largest decline in auto sales since November and cold and rainy weather dampening department store sales. A surprise tornado touched down in Miami, cutting a two-mile path as people scrambled for cover. The twister smashed windows and damaged roofs and cars, but no one was killed and only five people were injured. Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch appears to be negotiating purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers, according to reports. Team owner Peter O'Malley ask-ed Major League Baseball for permission to enter into talks with Fox Group, an affiliate of Murdoch's News Corp. The price: a record $350 million to $400 million, the Associated Press said. The team comes with a 300-acre site where Dodger Stadium is located. Vice President Gore unveiled a $43.2 million program to improve the nation's food safety. The plan includes: improved inspections and expanded preventive safety measures; a $4 million national education campaign to improve food handling in homes, restaurants, and stores; $13.7 million to build a national early-warning system to detect and respond to outbreaks. South Carolina and Missouri joined 26 other states in suing the nation's biggest tobacco companies. South Carolina's attorney general said the state, which is the third-largest tobacco-producer in the nation, decided to sue because only states with lawsuits pending can engage in closed-door negotiations with the tobacco companies. The US contributed $100,000 to the Red Cross to assist victims of an earthquake in northeastern Iran. The contribution was made despite US accusations that Iran sponsors terrorism. The Clinton administra- tion also has been attempting to organize an international economic boycott of the oil-rich country. Some 8,500 workers went on strike at a key auto industry supplier in Warren, Ohio. Delphi Packard Electric Systems, a subsidiary of General Motors, makes wiring for 20 automakers worldwide. Union members have complained about retirement incentives for older workers and wages and benefits. …