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Some 260,000 federal employees are likely to be sent home today due to the government's second shutdown. Congressional Democrats were to meet yesterday to try to resolve their own impasse: "Blue Dog" conservatives favor spending cuts that fall between President Clinton's proposals and the Republicans, other Democrats are backing gentler cuts. Meanwhile, congressional negotiators reached agreement on a $4.99 billion District of Columbia appropriations bill. The bill will be sent to the president after a Senate and House vote today or tomorrow.

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The White House apparently averted a court battle by agreeing to release subpoenaed notes from a 1993 meeting related to Whitewater. The Clinton administration said it would hand over the notes if all parties involved agreed it would not set a precedent for other documents.

If Clinton has his way, anyone arrested on federal charges will undergo drug testing before bail is set. Test results will help determine the conditions of bail for drug-users or people who refuse to be tested. But a defense lawyers group says the plan to be announced by Clinton today, may trample detainees' presumption of innocence before a trial.

The EPA is considering a $10 million relocation plan for more than 100 families living in a Florida neighborhood contaminated with dioxin, arsenic, lead, and other poisons. Residents have asked to be relocated from the two Superfund sites located near abandoned wood treatment and chemical plants since 1992.

President Clinton is threatening to veto a $265 billion defense appropriations bill that gained House approval because it would restrict presidential power to deploy troops. The bill would also ban abortions at military hospitals and expel service personnel diagnosed with the AIDS virus.

Pennsylvania Republican Bob Walker announced he is leaving Congress after 10 terms. And Texas Democrat Pete Geren said he would not seek reelection in 1996. That makes 20 Democrats and nine Republicans who will be leaving the House next year.

A judge lifted restriction on the movements of Joseph Waldholtz at the request of federal prosecutors. It was unclear whether the estranged husband of Utah Congresswoman Enid Waldholtz would strike a deal with prosecutors probing an alleged $1.7 million check-kiting scheme and his wife's campaign finances. Meanwhile, it was disclosed that the congresswoman had failed to file income tax returns in 1994.

The US is evenly split on whether President Clinton deserves a second term, and it's leaning toward Democrats for the next Congress, according to an Associated Press poll. Senator Dole rated strongest when voters were asked to match attributes they consider most important in a president with a list of GOP contenders. His rivals barely registered in that test.

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Wasyl Lytwyn, an admitted Nazi collaborator who reportedly helped destroy the Warsaw ghetto in World War II, left Chicago for the Ukraine following admission of his Nazi involvement. He is facing the loss of his US citizenship after being permanently barred from this country.

Nearly 100 employees of the federally funded Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington State will be disciplined for using work computers to access sexually oriented Internet sites. Officials of the federal lab at the Hanford sites said another 21 workers will be suspended without pay for up to two weeks. An additional 77 will receive written reprimands.

A suspect in a fatal New York subway attack told investigators he stood lookout while friends squirted flammable liquid into a manned token booth. The three teenagers, all in custody, face second-degree murder charges.

Maine is all but assured of a white Christmas. It's been a struggle to keep up with the snow, says Portland resident Steve Minervino.


Israel and Syria are expected to resume stalled peace negotiations Dec. 27 at an undecided location near Washington. The issues: Syria's demand for full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights; and Israel's condition that Syria must commit to full ties, open borders, and trade before it would indicate how far it is prepared to withdraw. Elsewhere, Palestinian police exchanged fire with rebels from the PLO's Fatah group in Nablus in the West Bank.

EU leaders pledged to press toward a common currency in Europe and named it "Euro." "On the euro we are going to build the future of European integration," Spanish Finance Minister Pedro Solbes said. But some economists said the Euro may never be introduced. The EU agreed that member countries will be judged on their fitness for the Euro in 1998, banks will start using it in 1999, and it will go into public circulation in 2002.

Freezing fog blanketed airfields and delayed the deployment of NATO air power in Bosnia. And Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is reportedly planning a major cabinet reshuffle in a bid to hold on to power. Also, Russia said it had no plans to offer asylum to Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic to protect him from prosecution for war crimes.

Half of Paris's subway lines were operating yesterday, and analysts said the three-week-old strike by France's public-sector workers is ending in a costly draw. The strikers (above) pushed the government to scrap a rail restructuring plan, with a promise not to touch generous public-sector pension schemes. They failed to accomplish their main demand: Withdrawal of a radical plan to overhaul the welfare system.

Russians voted in large numbers in parliamentary elections, which the Communist Party was widely expected to lead. And Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin assured the US that relations can only improve irrespective of the election's outcome. Meanwhile, Chechen rebels fired at besieged Russian troops stranded in a military headquarters in Gudermes, Chechnya's second largest city.

Voters in Haiti, Austria, and the African islands of Cape Verde went to the polls yesterday. In Haiti, polls favored Rene Preval for president. In Cape Verde's parliamentary elections, the ruling Movement for Democracy party is expected to fare well, observers say. Analysts said results from Austria's parliamentary elections are unpredictable.

One of Pakistan's most notorious alleged drug smugglers has fled the country and surrendered to authorities from the US, according to diplomats in Islamabad. Arub Afridi, wanted in the US and Afghanistan on drug charges, flew to the United Arab Emirates, a US Embassy spokesman said.

Poisonous gas spewing from a blazing chemical plant killed three people and forced at least 2,500 to flee from a small town 25 miles from Cape Town, South Africa, authorities said. More than 100 people were overcome by sulfur-dioxide fumes belching from piles of blazing chemicals.

South Korean President Kim Young Sam, who sacked his prime minister last week, is expected to make a major Cabinet reshuffle this week, observers say. And, the trial of former President Roh Tae Woo, on corruption charges, starts today.

Hundreds of people in Hong Kong protested China's 14-year sentence for pro-democracy advocate Wei Jingsheng, who was jailed on sedition charges last week.

Militant Afghan students belonging to the Taliban group fired rockets on the presidential palace in Kabul, killing six and wounding seven, witness said.


You must not allow the forces of the past to return to power. We don't appreciate what we have until it's gone. Freedom is like that. It's like air. When you have it, you don't notice it."

- Russian President Yeltsin, pleading with voters to remember the hardships of the Soviet past.

Singer Michael Jackson, under orders to rest after a recent collapse, is visiting France. A Saudi prince has invited him to Euro Disney.

What was once a 3.2 million-light display in Little Rock, Ark., has been reduced to 12,000 lights. Jennings Osborne, sued by neighbors, has dimmed his Christmas.

She dubs you, yeah, yeah, yeah. A group of British legislators is lobbying Prime Minister John Major to recommend that Queen Elizabeth knight the three remaining Beatles - Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison.

The Vikings didn't do it. An international committee of scientists has concluded that the Old Stone Mill in Newport, R.I., could not have been built by Norsemen in the 11th century, but was most likely built between 1635 and 1698.

Environmental researchers trying to find an ecologically sound purpose for rice straw think it could help replace trees as the source of paper pulp. Disposing of the straw left over from the rice harvest is a problem because of the pollution it causes when burned.

A gigantic art center opened in Prague, allowing the first comprehensive exhibition of modern Czech art in the nation's history.

Extra Extra - The Biggest News of the Year!

The top stories of 1995 as chosen by news organizations from more than 40 countries outside the United States are:

1. Bosnia's civil war and peace agreement

2. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassination

3. France resumes nuclear testing in the South Pacific

4. Aum Shinri Kyo blamed for deadly Tokyo gas attack

5. Kobe earthquake

6. Oklahoma City bombing

7. Chechnya civil war

8. O.J. Simpson acquittal

9. Mideast peace process

10. The rise of Islamic fundamentalism

- Associated Press

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