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News In Brief


A UCLA study of 114 TV series last year showed only five were violent. President Clinton hoped to use the report on TV violence with hopes in his campaign agenda. The report, financed by the major networks, is part of a three-year study seeking ways to curb violence in programming. He also prepared for questions from ordinary Americans in tonight's debates in San Diego. And the government released a report indicating cities and metropolitan areas are more economically linked than ever before. A major goal of a second Clinton term would be to pump money into urban centers, officials said.

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GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole was expected to deliver his heaviest attack on ethical shortcomings in the Clinton administration during a speech to the electronics industry in San Diego. Campaign aides said the FBI files controversy, Whitewater, and Travelgate were bound to come up. Earlier, he raised questions about campaign contributions to the Clinton administration by Indonesian banking interests. Some GOP leaders suggested the administration traded favors for large contributions from the conglomerate. They recommended a special counsel be appointed to investigate.

The US Supreme Court let stand a 1991 Michigan court order that bars Dr. Jack Kevorkian from helping people commit suicide. The court also set aside a ruling that said death in the gas chamber is a "cruel and unusual" method of execution. It agreed to decide: the validity of a 1993 federal law aimed at enhancing Americans' religious freedom; a voting-rights dispute that questions whether a Florida state Senate district in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area unlawfully favors black voters; and whether states may tax the income of hospitals operated under employee welfare-benefit plans.

Railroad giants Conrail and CSX are growing even bigger. They announced an $8.4 billion merger to make them the world's largest freight transportation company, with annual revenues of more than $14 billion.

Iraq rebuilt its southern surface-to-air missile network after the US destroyed it with 44 cruise missiles last month, according to a senior defense official quoted in The Washington Post. Each missile cost roughly $1 million. The report said the Clinton administration has been sensitive to Republican criticisms that the US spent substantial sums on the missile attacks that did only minimal damage.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened yesterday for the first time above the 6000 mark. It broke the 5000 mark last November.

Utah filed a lawsuit against the Interior Department that claims its surveying areas in the state for wilderness designation without following procedures in a 1979 federal law. Some of the state's politicians said they felt left out last month after Clinton announced he was setting aside 1.7 million acres for a national monument in southern Utah. The governor expressed concern that Utah school trust lands, whose funds from development are used for education, may be considered for wilderness designation.

Nearly 4,000 workers at GM plants in the US and Mexico were sent home as supplies from striking Canadian plants dried up. About 6,000 workers in the US and Mexico have lost their jobs since the Canadian workers went on strike. Negotiations between the union and GM Canada were to resume in Toronto.

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Texas Attorney General Dan Morales was expected to sign an agreement with Mexican officials in Mexico City to cooperate in money-laundering investigations. Morales estimates that $30 billion a year in drug profits flow across the Texas-Mexico border.

Firefighters contained a blaze in California's Big Sur area by 95 percent. But more than 18,000 acres have been charred, and that figure is expected to grow because crews are setting fires on the perimeter to destroy fuel in the path of flames.


King Hussein of Jordan made his first visit to the West Bank since losing the territory to Israel in the 1967 war. The king said he would cooperate closely with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat to ensure that Israel keeps its promises in the peace agreement signed with the Palestinians. Jordan and Israel are bound by a 1994 peace treaty. Hussein and Arafat have long had a stormy relationship.

Israel rejected a proposal by Arafat that US troops guard Jewish settlers in the tense West Bank city of Hebron. Israel has yet to redeploy its troops from Hebron under the peace agreement and has been insisting on additional security measures there. In Washington, Defense Secretary William Perry said no international force that included US troops was under consideration.

The main Protestant and Catholic parties to the Northern Ireland peace process made their first breakthrough after four months of wrangling. The pro-British Ulster Unionists and the Social Democratic and Labor Party, representing two-thirds of the north's Catholic majority, agreed to move the debate over disarming rival paramilitary groups from No. 1 on the opening agenda to No. 2. Five of the other seven parties participating in the negotiations voted to approve the compromise.

The forces of Afghanistan's former military chief consolidated territorial gains north of the capital, Kabul. But the nation's Taliban government reinforced its troops guarding the capital and vowed to retake areas now outside its control. Travelers reaching Kabul from the north reported the sounds of heavy fighting but said it appeared that Taliban forces still controlled the Baghram air base, 30 miles away.

Spontaneous demonstrations across Belgium shut down rail lines and other facilities as public anger spread over the dismissal of the nation's chief investigator into a child-sex ring. Judge Jean-Marc Connerotte was dropped from the case after attending a fund-raising dinner for the families of missing children. He became a national hero in August after his investigators rescued two children from a secret dungeon and found the bodies of four kidnapped girls on one defendant's property.

African foreign ministers met in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to plan their next move against a defiant Burundi. The meeting came after Burundi's military government said it won't talk with Hutu rebels until neighboring countries lift sanctions imposed after a July coup.

North Korea is threatening to annul a 1994 deal freezing its nuclear program if the US backs South Korea's efforts to delay safer reactors for the North. Seoul, the major financier of the $5 billion project to give Pyongyang two Western-style reactors, said the project would have to be delayed because of North Korea's recent submarine incursion into the South.

Forces of the Iranian-backed Patriotic Union of Kurdistan reached the outskirts of northern Iraq's capital, Arbil. But their leaders said there were no immediate plans to try to retake the city lost to the rival Kurdistan Democratic Party, which cast its lot with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Meanwhile, according to witnesses, the KDP was counter-attacking in a bid to recapture the key town of Koy Sanjak, the home of PUK leader Jalal Talabani.

Scientists in Belarus went public with their opposition to a plan that would allow the Army to destroy abandoned villages contaminated by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in neighboring Ukraine. Under the plan, tanks would use the villages for target practice. The scientists said the exercises would cause fires and explosions, raising radiation levels up to 1,000 times higher than normal and sending radioactive dust as much as 40 miles away.


"I think the lesson of yesterday is that no matter how stormy the process gets, there is always the possibility of good judgment, good sense, and patience paying off." -- Social Democratic and Labor Party head Seamus Mallon, on the first agreement in the Northern Ireland peace talks.

A real lead-foot is taking a crack at the sound barrier. Britain's Richard Noble, holder of the world's land speed record, is directing a project to reach the speed of sound - 760 m.p.h. The jet-powered Thrust SSC car (above, with Squadron Leader Andy Green) that will be used in the effort has passed its stability checks and will be flown to Jordan for full testing.

The green flash that recently lit up two Western states apparently was caused by the same meteorite. Scientists theorize it bounced off Earth's atmosphere over New Mexico, orbited the planet, then reentered and blazed through the sky north of Los Angeles. It may be the first reentry ever observed.

Some Chinese scientists are so dedicated to their work that they literally take it to bed with them. They've trained six alligators to sleep beside them, Xinhua news agency reported. Other stunts: dancing with alligators and putting their hands into the reptiles' mouths.


Cyberspace Scams

In cyberspace as in life, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. These are the top five Internet scams, according to the National Consumer League.

1. Pyramid investments that lure investors with the promise of quick money, which comes from those who invest after them.

2. Bogus Internet services: People pay in advance for web sites or Internet accounts that never materialize.

3. Equipment purchases from someone promising great prices, who then delivers inferior goods or nothing at all.

4. Business-opportunity ads featuring bogus predictions of profits or other misrepresentations.

5. Work-at-home offers that require the purchase of expensive equipment, after which employees are told their work fails to meet company "standards."

-- Associated Press

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