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News In Brief

The US

Former deputy White House chief of staff Harold Ickes Jr. resumed his testimony before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee after an opening statement that blamed any excesses in campaign fund-raising on "vague" federal law. Ickes said President Clinton's 1996 reelection campaign had played by the rules. He also blasted senatorial criticism of Attorney General Reno for failing to appoint an independent counsel to probe administration fund-raising practices.

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Clinton was to appear at three new fund-raisers Wednesday, two of them in New Jersey. He also planned to appeal for new child-care programs and to boost the candidacy of the state's Democratic candidate for governor, Jim McGreevey, who is waging an uphill campaign to unseat Republican incumbent Christine Todd Whitman.

Congress should aim for federal budget surpluses to cushion the impact of a future economic slowdown, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan warn-ed. He told the House Budget Committee it may be only a matter of time until the current high employment rate triggers new wage pressures that, in turn, threaten the third-longest economic expansion on record.

Wholesale volume fell in August by the largest percentage in more than four years, the Commerce Department reported. It said the drop was 1.1 percent - or a seasonally adjusted $208.7 billion - from July, largely in durable goods. The decline was the steepest since a 1.3 percent drop in June 1993.

Commerce Secretary William Daley told a business gathering in Beijing that China's trade surplus with the US was "unacceptable" and must change. He estimated the surplus would grow to $44 billion this year, a $4 billion increase from 1996. Earlier this week, Chinese Trade Minister Wu Yi dismissed the gap as a product of "historical inevitability." But he announced a buying mission would be sent to the US "soon" to help narrow the gap. Chinese President Jiang Zemin is due in the US for a meeting with Clinton later this month.

Sun Microsystems took its public dispute with rival Microsoft to federal court. A suit filed in San Jose, Calif., claims Microsoft distorted the popular Java programming language so that it works only on computers equipped with Windows software. Microsoft says its actions fall "well within the terms" of its licensing agreement with Sun.

NASA planned a full series of engineering tests on the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft after its main transmitter reestablished communication with Earth for the first time in nine days.The vehicle and its Sojourner rover, on Mars since July 4, have fulfilled their primary missions.

Limits on the president's power to designate national monuments passed in the US House. A measure amending the Antiquities Act of 1906 requires 30-day advance consultation with the governor of any state in which a monument of more than 50,000 acres is to be set aside. It also renders any declaration void unless OK'd by Congress within two years. The vote on the measure was 229-174. The legislation was spurred by Clinton's 1996 designation of 1.7 million acres in Utah, which produced a backlash in that state.

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Applications for space on a controversial cruise from Miami to Cuba were accepted by the city's Roman Catholic archdiocese. But it said those booking the Jan. 23 trip aboard the Norwegian Majesty would have to swear in writing that they are going "for religious purposes" only and agree to abide by all requirements of the US embargo against the communist-ruled island. Inquiries have come from as far away as Seattle for the trip to witness Pope John Paul II's first visit to Havana.

SADD, the national student movement against drunken driving said it is broadening its mission to include teen suicide, drug abuse, and other problems. The group, which has 25,000 chapters in colleges and middle and high schools, announced its acronym will remain the same but now will stand for Students Against Destructive Decisions.

The World

A surprise meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat breathed new life into the Mideast peace process. It was their first get-together in eight months. US envoy Dennis Ross who arranged the meeting at Erez crossing on the Gaza-Israel border, billed it as a fresh start for peacemaking. Ross said while differences remain the two sides agreed to resume contacts at all levels.

Four Israeli soldiers were killed and seven others wound-ed when guerrillas detonated roadside bombs near their patrols along the border in southern Lebanon, the pro-Israeli militia sources said. The Iranian- backed Hizbullah, which recently stepped its attacks in the region, claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin appealed to the Russian parliament not to press ahead with a no-confidence vote in his government. The communist-dominated Duma, however, showed no signs of backing down from its threat to hold the vote. The center of controversy is the 1988 budget, which the opposition calls "disastrous."

Iraq is still withholding key details of its banned biological weapons program, UN chief weapons monitor Richard Butler told the Security Council. Despite the Butler report, analysts say it is unlikely the council will impose additional sanctions because of French, Russian, and Chinese opposition.

Ten Bosnian Croats, including most-wanted suspect Dario Kordic, pleaded not guilty to helping massacre Bosnian Muslims. Prosecutors at the UN war-crimes tribunal in The Hague charge Kordic masterminded the persecution and killing of civilians in central Bosnia in 1993. If convicted, the 10 defendants could face life imprisonment.

An apartheid-era general said South Africa's military had a plan to identify and "eliminate" black resistance leaders. Gen. Joep Joubert, former head of special forces, told the country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission that targets were approved by the chief of the armed forces, Gen. Constand Viljoen. At the same hearings, Viljoen said the military was carrying out the legitimate orders of a constitutional government.

Kim Jong Il, North Korea's de facto ruler, was elected general secretary of the ruling Workers Party. His ascension marked communism's first-ever dynastic succession. Kim has run the Stalinist state since the death of his father, Kim Il Sung, in 1994. The younger Kim, known for years as "Dear Leader," now is referred to by North Korean news media as the "Great Leader."

Hong Kong's first post-colonial legislative elections were set for May 26 and will be open to all parties, Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa said in his first policy address. The speech, however, emphasized economy over politics, which took up only four pages in his 52-page, two-hour speech. He said Hong Kong will continue to welcome Western businesses.

In Bordeaux, the trail of Maurice Papon was suspended on its first day to examine his lawyer's argument that detention would be harmful to Papon's health. Papon, the highest-ranking official of France's former Vichy government to stand trial for World War II crimes against humanity, is accused of collaborating with the Nazis in the deportation of Jews to labor camps. He is in his late 80s.

The UN Security Council agreed to impose oil, arms, and travel embargoes on Sierra Leone to pressure the military junta into restoring the African country's elected government. The junta overthrew President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah last May.

"To believe that wage pressures will not intensify ... strains credibility. The law of

supply and demand has not been repealed."

- Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, warning that inflation could cut short current US economic expansion.


A town in the former Soviet republic of Latvia has given new meaning to the slogan "Power to the People." Preili, saddled with high unemployment, didn't have enough money to keep its streets lighted at night. That is, until someone came up with the bright idea of put-ting the local statue of Lenin up for sale. The 4.8-ton sculpture went to a British collector for $8,000, and now Preili's streets are safe to walk at night again.

Katherine and David Scott's wedding turned out to be a real cliffhanger. The Washington State rock climbers decided a church ceremony wouldn't be a tall enough order. So they chose to exchange vows atop Tum-water Canyon, near Leavenworth. Using ropes, they scaled a 600-foot wall to reach the site where the pastor and guests were waiting.

Scrutiny of President Clinton by the White House press corps has been carried a step further by journalists in Venezuela. He is due there Sunday for the start of a week-long South American tour. To preview his arrival, one Caracas newspaper printed a two-page spread of "presidential intimacies" - among them his pulse rate, blood pressure, favorite card game, and preferred dessert.

The Day's List

US Holds Wide Lead In Winning Nobel Prizes

The winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Literature will be announced today, the second of six annual awards presented by the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. On Monday, the medicine prize went to US biochemist Stanley Prusiner. The following have had the most Nobel winners since the first prize was awarded in 1901:

1. United States 225

2. United Kingdom 92

3. Germany 72

4. France 47

5. Sweden 29

6. Switzerland 17

7. Former Soviet Union 16

8. Stateless institutions 15

9. Italy 13

(tie) Netherlands 13

- Russell Ash,"The Top 10 of Everything 1997"

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