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News In Brief

The US

The Clinton administration shifted its policy toward the US territory of Guam in late 1996 after a Guam Democratic Party official visited Washington in 1995 with more than $250,000 in campaign contributions, The Washington Post reported. Guam has been pushing for the changes since 1988, but its efforts were blocked by previous administrations. Also, the House committee investigating Democratic campaign fund-raising issued two dozen new subpoenas and said it is looking into reports that the Chinese government wanted to contribute to the Democratic Party. Earlier, the committee issued five subpoenas.

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The Republican and Democratic Parties collected a record $263.5 million in "soft money" contributions in the last two years, according to Washington's Center for Responsive Politics. That's nearly three times what they collected for the 1992 campaign. Republicans raised $141 million; Democrats raised $121 million. Both parties used the money for "issue ads" - TV spots featuring their presidential candidates, the center said.

Shuttle "Discovery" astronauts planned a fifth spacewalk to continue insulation repair work on the Hubble telescope. Earlier, the crew made patches from thermal blankets to protect the $2 billion telescope from 400 degree temperatures in space. Two astronauts lashed them to the top of the telescope, using wire, alligator clips, and tape. The shuttle is scheduled to return home Friday.

Air-fare wars: That's what American Airlines sparked by offering discounts of up to 50 percent off domestic fares in an attempt to win back customers frightened away by the company's near-strike. Other airlines responded with competing promotions. The strike was averted after President Clinton ordered American's pilots back to work shortly after they walked off the job. It was the first time in 30 years a president declared an airline strike an emergency.

Last-minute negotiations with a major auto-part supplier help-ed to avert a pending strike by the United Auto Workers. The strike at five axle plants would have affected production of virtually every General Motors pickup and sports utility vehicle and several Ford Motor trucks.

Drill samples from the Atlantic Ocean contain "proof positive" that a massive asteroid hit Earth 65 million years ago, the National Science Foundation announced. The asteroid triggered a global extinction that probably killed off the dinosaurs, it concluded. Waves from the asteroid, which landed near Mexico, wash-ed across Florida and deposited the debris in the Atlantic, scientists theorize. The international expedition came up with the results after collecting samples off Florida's east coast.

Clinton praised a landmark global telecommunications agreement reached in Geneva, saying the US would reap significant economic benefits. The agreement will unleash competition in markets representing more than 95 percent of global telecommunications revenues, said Charlene Barshefsky, the US trade representative-designate. The agreement could double or triple the size of the $600 billion industry in 10 years, she added.

Who will pick up the legal tab for Timothy McVeigh, who awaits trial in the Oklahoma City bombing? Answer: the taxpayers. McVeigh's lead lawyer (of 12 overall) estimated the defendant's legal bills will cost about $50 million, said Paul Heath president of the Oklahoma City Murrah Building Survivors Association.

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The former Soviet Republic of Georgia waived diplomatic immunity to open the way for criminal charges against one of its diplomats involved in a car crash in Washington that killed a teen-ager. Prosecutors were expected to seek a grand jury indictment charging Gueorgui Makharadze with involuntary manslaughter. Tests taken several hours after the accident showed he had a blood-alcohol level far above the legally drunk level, Newsweek magazine said.

The World

North Korea's Foreign Ministry asked China to investigate the defection of top government adviser Hwang Jang Yop to rival South Korea. But the North said it could accept the defection if he was not "kidnapped." North Korea previously had rejected Hwang's defection as "inconceivable and impossible."

Zaire denied it is arming Rwandan Hutu refugees in an effort to counter the forces of reb-el leader Laurent Kabila, as alleged by the UN. The govern- ment also accused the UN of caring only about the problems of refugees and foreign aid workers in the ongoing insurgency in eastern Zaire, while ignoring the plight of civilians displaced by the fighting. It ruled out a truce with Kabila.

Military courts in Burundi convicted five government soldiers on charges that they helped to round up and murder civilians. The verdicts against the five - all of them Tutsis - were believed to be the first in the ethnically divi-ded country, whose Tutsi-dominated Army rarely admits to mistakes. Their sentences ranged from five months to 10 years in prison. Nine other Tutsi soldiers were acquitted. Many of those who died in the incidents were Hutus.

Chinese President Jiang Ze-min and Premier Li Peng both cut short visits to distant parts of the country and rushed back to Beijing, informed sources in the capital said. The sources said their early returns were because of the health of senior leader Deng Xiaoping, which is widely rumored to be failing. Few senior Chinese leaders are believed willing to be away from Beijing at such a time.

Business, Roman Catholic, and opposition leaders attacked a plan to amend the Philippines Constitution, allowing President Ramos to seek reelection. Ramos has pledged to step down when his term ends in mid-1998, although he refuses to say so in writing. Ramos said his executive secretary was merely "thinking out loud" in discussing a propo-sal that would permit him to stay in power until "at least" 2004.

Bulgaria now wants full membership in NATO, its caretaker government announced. The state-run news service said the foreign and defense ministers were assigned to draft preparations to apply for membership. The move represents a major shift in policy. Bulgaria was the closest ally of the former Soviet Union and previously had been cool to NATO expansion.

Tpac Amaru rebels in Peru warned that a reported government plan to free hostages they hold inside the Japanese ambassador's residence could bring "a violent end to the crisis." The rebels said everyone inside the house "could" die if a nighttime assault by a combined Peruvian/ US commando force was launched. A Lima newspaper printed details of the plan after talks aimed at ending the standoff broke down.

Tajikistan's antigovernment rebel leader, Bakhram Sadirov, freed all six remaining hostages after negotiations with the country's president, the UN said. The six were accompanying President Emomali Rakhmonov back to the capital, Dushanbe, from Sadi-rov's mountain hideout. They were the last of 16 captives Sadi-rov had taken earlier this month to secure the return of his brother and other rebels from exile in neighboring Afghanistan.

Yemeni troops encircled a region where rebellious tribesmen held a US engineer hostage. Joe Dell'Aria, of Houston-based Halliburton Energy Services, was kidnapped in a land dispute between the Murad tribe and the Yemeni government. Negotiations have failed to win his release. In a similar incident, Amer- ican engineer Gerald Schaeffer (also spelled Jerel Shaffer) and his pilot were reported seized by leftist rebels along the Colombia-Venezuela border.


In my view, this is the most significant discovery in geosciences in 20 years."

- National Science Foundation official Robert Corell, on evidence that a massive asteroid collided with Earth 65 million years ago, probably leading to the death of dinosaurs.

The phrase "banned in Boston" has been given new meaning by Mayor Thomas Menino and the city's public library. Menino ordered software filters installed on all of the library's on-line compu-ter terminals after school children were caught using some of them to download pornographic images. Trustees agreed. But civil libertarians and the American Libra-ry Association say BPL ought to "protect," not censor, intellectual freedom. As play-by-play announcers say: Stay tuned; this one's not over.

Electronics giant GTE says it has taken in-flight telephone service "to the next level." The company's digital Airfone system lets passengers on the same flight dial each other up. At $2.50 per call it's a lot more expensive than walking back to vis-it in person - but more effective if the captain has turned on the "fasten seat belt" sign.

A Dallas financial institution thought it was giving credit where credit is due when it mailed a preapproved gold card offer with a limit of $10,000 to Precious Mitchell of Princeton, Ky. Only, Precious is a dog - a Lhasa apso barely out of puppyhood. Somewhere along the line, the company explains, Precious must be on record as having bought something.

The Day's List

How Soft-Drink Market Was Carved Up Last Year

Soft-drink industry statistics indicate the fastest-growing brand in terms of US market share in 1996 was caffeine-free Sprite. But Coca-Cola Classic and Pep-si-Cola continued their domination. The top 10 brands with '96 market share, and percentage of change from '95:

1. Coca-Cola Classic, 20.8 unchanged

2. Pepsi-Cola, 14.9 - 0.1

3. Diet Coke, 8.7 - 0.1

4. Sprite, 5.8 + 0.7

5. Dr Pepper, 5.8 + 0.1

6. Mountain Dew, 5.8 + 0.1

7. Diet Pepsi, 5.7 - 0.1

8. 7UP, 2.4 - 0.1

9. CF Diet Coke*, 1.9 - 0.1

10. CF Diet Pepsi*, 1.0 - 0.1

*(CF = caffeine-free)

- Beverage Digest

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