Nation & World

Nato, U.N. suspend attacks on Bosnia, extend deadline

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina Western officials said yesterday the Bosnian Serbs were pulling their big guns away from Sarajevo, and gave the rebels another 72-hour reprieve from the threat of devastating air attacks.

At the same time, the Serbs were trying to fight off an advance by government troops in western Bosnia. Thousands of refugees fleeing the fighting choked the roads leading to the Serb stronghold of Banja Luka.

International mediators were trying to incorporate the shifting battle lines into their plans. They said the government's advance on Banja Luka could draw Serbia, the major power in the region, into the fighting.

''The next few days and hours may determine the fate of the war,'' said U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke.

In a statement issued in Zagreb, Croatia, the U.N. and NATO commanders said they had postponed a deadline of 10 p.m. (4 p.m. EDT) yesterday because the Serbs were showing ''initial compliance'' with demands to pull artillery and other heavy weapons back at least 12 1/2 miles from Sarajevo.

The new deadline expires at 10 p.m. (4 p.m. EDT) on Wednesday.

Gov't asks hospitals for payback

WASHINGTON The government insistently is asking hundreds of hospitals in seven states for more than $9 million in outpatient tests performed on Medicare patients who were later admitted.

Nearly 4,000 other hospitals nationwide will get similar notices over the next 18 months demanding they pay back $100 million for X-rays and tests performed within 72 hours of a hospital admission.

Senior citizens are also due money back if the hospitals charged them deductibles or a 20 percent share of the outpatient tests.

Medicare pays flat rates for hospital stays pegged to the patient's diagnosis. The rates include any hospital outpatient tests or services performed in the three days before admission.

WASHINGTON American currency is about to get a face lift, a high-tech overhaul to thwart counterfeiters that will have holders of greenbacks seeing double.

Two portraits of an American historical figure will be on each bill, but you'll have to hold the bill up to the light to see one of them.

It will be the first distinct new look for U.S. paper money in 66 years, a redesign that some experts consider long overdue given the troublemaking possibilities from foreign counterfeiters.

The changeover will begin early next year with the $100 bill, a favorite of forgers. Existing bills will remain in circulation.

Buchanan heartened by imitation

WASHINGTON Pat Buchanan thought he heard an echo when GOP presidential rival Bob Dole endorsed English as the nation's official language and attacked proposed standards for teaching history.

''Right out of our speeches,'' said Buchanan.

It was deja vu when Dole criticized ''liberal academic elites'' for taking umbrage at President Truman's use of the atom bomb.

Likewise when California Gov. Pete Wilson came down on affirmative action and immigration, and when Sen. Dick Lugar of Indiana promoted a national sales tax.

''Been there, done that'' could be Buchanan's campaign theme. While the conservative commentator is considered a long shot to capture the Republican presidential nomination, ideas he has long espoused are making their way into the campaign speeches of his GOP rivals.

''In one sense, you're a little exasperated because it's copyright violation,'' Buchanan said in an interview. ''But it is heartening because what it means is we're winning the battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party.''

U.S. auto industry looks to Korea

WASHINGTON U.S. automakers, fresh from a bruising battle to boost sales opportunities in Japan, now have their sights set on another foreign competitor South Korea.

The fight to lower South Korea's automotive barriers promises a replay of many of the contentious issues raised in the fracas with Japan with likely the same results, according to trade experts.

As with Japan, U.S. negotiators may end up with a hazy deal subject to dispute by both sides and universal condemnation by other countries of America's bullying tactics, these experts suggested.

''U.S. negotiators are facing trade fatigue right now,'' said Greg Mastel of the Economic Strategy Institute, a Washington think tank. ''They had a long and bitter campaign to open Japan's auto market and even though it took a lot of resources and time, it wasn't entirely successful.''

Hong Kong polls favor democracy

HONG KONG Torn between conflicting visions of its future, Hong Kong voted yesterday in its final election under British rule and appeared to heavily favor pro-democracy candidates who vow defiance toward China, an exit poll showed.

Shortly after the polls opened, Beijing renewed its threat to annul the election's results when it takes over in July 1997.

An exit poll broadcast on the ATV and TVB television stations suggested that 16 or 17 of the 20 geographical seats in the 60-seat legislature would go to pro-democracy candidates. Actual results were not expected for several hours, and the 20 seats covered by the poll are only one-third of the legislature.

Government-owned radio, while cautioning that the Hong Kong University poll was only an indication of the vote, said it suggested a pro-democracy landslide. It said the Democratic Party, the colony's leading critic of China, captured 12 seats.

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