The News in Brief

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The US

The House was expected to approve the budget accord between the White House and congressional leaders, one day after the Senate Budget Committee easily passed it with a 17-to-4 vote. Passage was expected despite word from an aide to House minority leader Richard Gephardt that he will not support the accord, which will reportedly balance the budget by 2002.

Crews of the space shuttle Atlantis and Russia's Mir station worked to finish hauling supplies and equipment between the docked spacecraft and Mir. The seven-member shuttle crew and three Mir men - two cosmonauts and an American - were to have everything in place by this morning, when hatches between the two spacecraft were to be closed. Atlantis is to undock tonight and return to Earth on Saturday after nine days aloft. A move in Congress to impeach liberal judges deserves to fail, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said. A group of GOP lawmakers is pressing for impeachment of some judges on grounds that their decisions usurp power from Congress and the people. Scalia told members of the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil-rights group, that impeachment of judges would be overly intrusive. He is considered one of the more conservative Supreme Court justices. The Senate seemed close to a final vote on banning a late-term abortion procedure. GOP lawmakers agreed to minor changes in the bill and in return received a stamp of approval from American Medical Association. They hoped AMA support would swing enough votes to overcome a presidential veto. The changes are reportedly designed to shelter doctors from overzealous prosecution. The House had already passed the ban, which provides for exceptions only when the mother's life is at risk, by a veto-proof margin. President Clinton was scheduled to launch a so-called Welfare to Work Partnership in a meeting at the White House. The heads of Burger King, Monsanto, Sprint, United Parcel Service, and United Airlines are leading this effort to provide companies with guidance on how to train those coming off welfare. Defense Secretary William Cohen was scheduled to answer questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee about proposals to close military bases, reduce certain weapons contracts, continue sending troops to remote hot spots, and otherwise cut defense forces. A recommendation to hold two more rounds of base closures was expected to draw the most scrutiny. US subsidiaries of foreign companies gave at least $12.5 million in political donations to US candidates and parties in 1995 and 1996, a study by the Center for Responsive Politics found. It said more than two-thirds of the contributions went to Republicans, one-third to Democrats. During the study period, 128 US subsidiaries of 93 foreign-owned companies donated to US campaigns. Thirty percent of Americans close to retirement have saved less than $10,000 for the years when they are no longer working, a survey by the research group Public Agenda indicated. In the poll conducted for Fidelity Investments, only 29 percent of respondents aged 51 to 61 reported savings of $100,000. The threat an oil spill poses to Lake Barre in southern Louisiana is greater than originally reported. Texaco had estimated Friday's pipeline spill at about 17,000 gallons. It is now believed to be as many as 210,000 gallons and a serious threat to sensitive marshland. The area has been closed to oyster harvesting, and shrimpers are being asked to stay away. The scheduled court-martial of the Air Force's first female B-52 pilot was delayed while authorities waited for Pentagon permission to proceed. Approval was needed because of 1st Lt. Kelly Flinn's request that she be allowed to resign with an honorable discharge. The delay came after an unconfirmed report that the secretary of the Air Force was not inclined to approve Flinn's request in order to avoid a potentially embarrassing court-martial. She is charged with adultery, disobedience, and lying. …