The News in Brief

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The US

Basking in the Northern Ireland peace agreement, President Clinton said it was appropriate the breakthrough came as Christians celebrated Easter and Jews celebrated Passover. Clinton was not only credited with sending former US Sen. George Mitchell to broker the peace accord, but with telephoning some of the key participants in the talks to help overcome last-minute sticking points. Clinton said the parties had chosen "hope" over "hate."

About 60 percent of Americans want to invest some of their Social Security taxes in the stock market - and 80 percent say individuals, not government, should control the investments, a Time-CNN poll of 1,011 adults indicated. GOP leaders in Congress have echoed Clinton's suggestion that budget surpluses be set aside until Social Security is strengthened, but there is no consensus on how to reform the system. The survey's margin of error was plus or minus 3.1 percent. There were predictions of soaring US budget surpluses as taxpayers approached the April 15 deadline for filing tax returns. Economist Lou Crandall of R.H. Wrightson & Assoc. in New York forecast a $40-billion surplus, well above a Congressional Budget Office projection of $18 billion. The Washington Post, citing internal central-bank reports, said the Federal Reserve is anticipating a $50-billion surplus. Fed officials responded by saying the size of this year's surplus was "highly uncertain." Disaster aid was arriving in four Southern states in the wake of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. Storms damaged or destroyed more than 2,000 homes in Alabama alone, state and local officials said. Tornadoes reportedly killed 33 people in Alabama, at least nine in Georgia, one in Mississippi, and one in North Carolina. The tornado - with winds exceeding 260 m.p.h. - that hit Jefferson County, Ala., was ranked F-5, the most powerful classification. On average, only one of the 1,000 tornadoes that hit the US each year is F-5, weather experts said. New rules to halt stock-market trading when prices fall sharply were approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The new curbs, which take effect Wednesday, require trading to halt after drops of 10 percent, 20 percent, and 30 percent in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Currently trading is halted when the Dow industrials fall 350 points, or about 4 percent, and again after a 550-point drop, or about 7 percent. The changes reflect concern that current curbs on trading could aggravate market instability. Allegations that a conservative foundation may have given financial aid to one of his star witnesses were being pursued by Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr. Brushing aside possible conflicts of interest, the Justice Department said Starr should look into allegations that David Hale received payments and other aid from people working for a foundation that publishes the American Spectator magazine. An Arkansas women has alleged that Hale received the aid while cooperating with Starr's inquiry. American Spectator publisher Terry Eastland said no money was given to Hale. Immigrants awaiting citizenship protested problems at the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Form 1994 to 1997, the number of citizenship applications reportedly tripled from 500,000 to almost 1.5 million - doubling the backlog of citizenship cases. Press conferences were held in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington. A computer network that handles data much faster than the Internet will connect a consortium of universities by June, the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California said. The University of California, Stanford University, and the California Institute of Technology are among the state's participating schools. The World Sinn Fein leaders Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams urged members of their party and supporters of the Irish Republican Army to give "fair" and "balanced" consideration to the historic peace accord reached Friday with Protestants in Northern Ireland. …


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