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As budget negotiators were set to meet again today, private funders are keeping some of the nation's treasures open to the public despite the government shutdown: Art Oakes, a South Dakota rancher has paid several hundred dollars to keep the lights on at Mount Rushmore; the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and other national landmarks in Philadelphia are reopening with private funds. The cost in Philadelphia: $1,600 a day. In the capital, meanwhile, a weekend of budget bargaining that focused mostly on cuts in Medicare was largely unfruitful. But leaders hoped to pass an interim plan to get 260,000 federal workers back on the job.

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Israeli-Syrian peace talks are to resume at the Wye Plantation in rural Maryland tomorrow. The delegations had planned to return home after three days of negotiations last week. Their decision to stay is seen as a sign of progress. A Syrian negotiator called the talks "useful but ... still exploratory." The major issue is Israel's possible withdrawal from the Golan Heights. Israel has reportedly proposed joint economic projects in the strategic area and has stressed its need to retain access to drinking water, which originates there.

Of 52,000 letters the FDA has received on its proposed rules to limit cigarette ads aimed at teens, a surprising number have come from children. One New York school sent 500 letters. An Oklahoma girl said she'd never date a smoker because they "have bad breath and yellow teeth." The agency is considering rules to ban cigarette names from auto races and clothing that teens favor, and restricting ads near schools. A public comment period on the rules ends today. R.J. Reynolds says the desire to rebel or act like an adult fuels teen smoking, not advertising.

New York City ended 1995 with a big reason to celebrate: It saw its sharpest drop in citywide violent crime since 1972. Police Commissioner William Bratton's strategies, including getting unregistered guns off the streets and not ignoring small crimes like drunkenness, are credited with much of the decline.

The country's oldest regulatory agency shut down. The Interstate Commerce Commission was formed in 1887 in part to appease train riders angry at high ticket prices. In signing the bill to close the agency, Clinton called it only "very modest reform," noting the agency's 190 employees will continue much of their work from new posts in the Transportation Department.

New NAACP president Kweisi Mfume welcomed a $100,000 pledge from Nissan Motor Corp. The donation is the first major gift to the civil rights organization since the Maryland congressman was named to the post. He has promised to reopen the stream of corporate gifts, which fell to a trickle as the organization's image faltered.

The NBC affiliate in Colorado Springs, Colo., pulled talk shows "Carnie" and "Jenny Jones" from its lineup. John Gilbert, the president of KOAA-TV, said he has had enough of "trash television." He warned that Maury Povich's show could be next.

CompuServe Inc. continued to block access to some sex-oriented Internet areas for its 4 million users. The move was prompted by a German prosecutor's probe of the US-based on-line service for violations of anti-pornography laws. It alarmed cyber-enthusiasts who say it could lead to more government censorship. CompuServe says it is a temporary move until it can respond to the prosecutor.

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Get a mansion cheap, real cheap. Thanks to bankruptcy in Orange County, Calif., and low interest rates, some of the county's big homes are selling for a relative pittance. Investors are swooping in, and the number of big deals jumped 27 percent in 1995. For instance: A limestone mansion that boasts 46 sets of French doors and a view of John Wayne's old estate sold for $13.8 million in 1991. Today it's listed for just $8.9 million.


The UN airlift that brought food and supplies into embattled Sarajevo for 3-1/2 years is expected to end within the next few days. Meanwhile, US vehicles are crossing the floating Sava River bridge linking Croatia and Bosnia after construction was completed Sunday. It is the biggest Army project built in active service since one constructed over the Rhine the US used to march on Hitler's Berlin in 1945. Also, the Mostar airport opened after three years of war. And Army officials awarded the Purple Heart to the first US casualty in the peacekeeping mission, a soldier wounded by a land mine.

Yemen is willing to withdraw its troops from Red Sea islands also claimed by Eritrea and accept international arbitration, UN Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali said. He has been meeting with leaders of the countries in an effort to defuse a dispute over the Greater and Lesser Hanish islands. Eritrean forces took over Greater Hanish in a brief battle in December before a cease-fire was implemented. Also, Eritrea released more than 200 Yemeni prisoners of war.

Italy's two main political factions were thrown into disarray as they wrestled with what position to take after Prime Minister Lamberto Dini offered to resign. President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro rejected the offer and told Dini to take the offer to Parliament.

Algeria's newly appointed Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia called a Cabinet meeting to form a new government. The former Cabinet director has a reputation as a skillful negotiator. He replaces Mokdad Sifi, who has been appointed a state minister.

The US has sent $3.5 billion in aid to the 12 former Soviet republics in the last four years, congressional auditors say. That sum is $11.30 for every Russian. The bulk of the aid, $1.4 billion, has gone for food.

Britain's Prime Minister John Major could be forced from office by defections of Conservative Party members of Parliament unless he changes his tack, Hugh Dykes, one of the ruling party's legislators, said. The comment was prompted by Conservative MP Emma Nicholson's announcement that she is defecting to the Liberal Democrats. Her decision reduces Major's parliamentary majority to three.

Muslim extremists in the Philippines released 13 people being held hostage, including six Americans from California. No ransom was paid for the captives, who were held for four days. But the mayor of General Santos City agreed to provide a relocation site for landless and homeless Muslims, and establish a state-funded Muslim school and a Muslim cemetery. Also, 18 suspected Muslim extremists were arrested in Manila for advocating a global holy war.

Four Western tourists held hostage by guerrillas in the troubled northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir were sighted last week in southern Kashmir, according to the United News of India. They were reportedly accompanied by 30 to 40 escorts, were wearing warm clothes, and appeared to be in good condition. They have been held since early July.

Inflation in Peru, where people have for decades endured escalating consumer prices, fell in 1995 to 10.23 percent, its lowest level in 23 years, the government reported.

Two bombs exploded on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica Sunday, the latest in a series of attacks that may point to feuding between rival groups seeking autonomy from Paris, according to police there. The island has had 11 bombings since just before Christmas.


Mt. Rushmore is next to the flag as being a national symbol, and it shines out over the prairie for everybody."

- South Dakota rancher Art Oakes, who is paying to keep the monument lighted during the federal budget impasse.

Although it's still four years away, New Year's Eve 2000 is booked solid almost everywhere. There's already a waiting list for New York's Rainbow Room. The Savoy Hotel in London is full up. And don't even try the Space Needle in Seattle: It's booked for a private party. Walt Disney World in Florida reports that all 17 of its inns are taken that night.


Borge Ousland, a Norwegian adventurer, has aborted his attempt to trek solo across Antarctica. Difficult snow conditions forced him to quit.


The Grateful Dead's surviving members, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Vince Welnick, have reportedly decided to keep playing after all. They'll tour this summer.

Fantasy Ice Cream Dreyer's/Edy's Ice Cream held a "Fantasy Flavors" contest in which 10,000 people sent in ideas. Here are some of the finalists' flavors. They are being market tested and may appear in stores later this year.

Blackberry Country Cobbler: Vanilla ice cream, pieces of pie crust, blackberries, and a blackberry syrup swirl.

Bodacious Black Bottom Cupcake: Chocolate ice cream, cream cheese, chocolate chips, and marble fudge ribbon.

Chocolate Dipped Strawberry: Strawberry ice cream with chocolate-covered strawberries and chocolate slivers.

Creme Brlee: French vanilla ice cream with ribbons of custard and caramelized sugar.

Luscious Lemon Pie: Swirls of lemon custard in a delicate vanilla ice cream with a hint of lemon flavoring, filled with chunks of sugar cookie crust.

Mocha-Damia White Truffle: Coffee ice cream with macadamia nuts and white chocolate chunks.

Old Fashioned Sticky Bun: French vanilla ice cream with swirls of maple sugar/cinnamon with walnuts.

Pretzel Pizzazz: Chocolate covered pretzels in fudge swirled in French vanilla ice cream.

U.F.O. "Unidentified Frozen Obsession:" Vanilla ice cream, blue M&M's, and vanilla wafers.

- Dreyers' & Edy's Grand Ice Cream (Oakland, Calif.)

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