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News In Brief

The US

If legislation to overhaul the Internal Revenue Service contains measures agreeable to President Clinton, he will sign it, Treasury Secretary Rubin told NBC's "Today" show. His comments came one day after the White House reversed itself and said it could support such reform if it allowed increased electronic filing of returns and required the agency to improve the way it treats taxpayers. The legislation is expected to reach the full House of Representatives before Congress adjourns next month.

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Clinton was to propose that industrial nations stabilize their "greenhouse" gas emissions at 1990 levels within 15 years, administration officials said. His plan, coupled with financial incentives to American industries and utilities, was expected to be the US position at the international conference on climate control in Kyoto, Japan, in December.

Employers largely are reversing their long pattern of laying off workers, according to a study by the American Management Association. It said almost 40 percent of US companies cut jobs in three or more years since 1990 but that the payrolls of those polled grew by an average of 6.9 percent in the year ended in June. Automation and reengineering, which caused many layoffs, now are among the reasons many employers are hiring again, it said, because of a need for workers with technical skills.

The state of Missouri executed convicted murderer Alan Bannister, ending a 14-year international campaign to overturn his sentence. Bannister admitted responsibility for the 1982 crime but argued his gun had discharged accidentally and that, at most, he should have been charged with second-degree murder.

State and local governments should not penalize Swiss banks for their response to claims of cooperation with Nazi Germany during World War II, the State Department warned. Its effort was made public one day after Massachusetts and New York became the latest states to join a growing movement to cancel dealings with Union Bank of Switzerland. The State Department said such measures were likely to be "counterproductive." Eight hundred state and local finance officers have been invited to a Dec. 8 meeting in New York to discuss coordinated actions against the banks.

One day after the Justice Department accused Microsoft of trying to steal customers from rival Netscape, the latter reported a 53 percent gain in third-quarter profits. The two companies compete in the area of Internet browsers but also in business software.

Two of every 10 women have endured some form of physical abuse by another adult in the home, a new nationwide survey found. The poll, developed in cooperation with the YWCA of the United States, also found that as many as 24 percent of those experiencing domestic mistreatment missed significant time at work, were hindered in their ability to advance careers, or had difficulty in keeping jobs.

Warmer than usual seas appear to have contributed to the starvation of hundreds of thousands of Alaskan water birds, US Fish and Wildlife Service officials said. They said all signs pointed to the cyclical weather pattern known as El Nino as the reason why zooplankton and small fish, the normal sources of food for the birds, were driven into deeper water and out of reach.

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Los Angeles City Council members voted 12 to 2 to approve funding plans for a controversial $300 million downtown sports arena. The plans call for private developers to repay $58 million in public money spent on the project out of future revenues. The 22,000-seat structure is expected to open in 1999.

Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt tested a Cincinnati ordinance that restricts the sale of pornographic materials to an industrial district of the city. Flynt said he was prepared to pay "whatever the price" if he lost a legal battle for opening a downtown store featuring sexually explicit material. In 1979, an appeals court overturned his conviction for pandering obscenity in Cincinnati.

Russia's parliament formally withdrew a no-confidence motion in President Yeltsin's government. But Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, whose party is the largest faction in the lower house of parliament, reserved the right to revive the motion if the Kremlin failed to carry out its promises. Following meetings between the two sides earlier this week, Yeltsin agreed to withdraw a controversial tax-reform measure. The Kremlin said it would put forward a new proposal.

Yeltsin met with the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Belarus at the Kremlin before they flew to Moldova for a summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States. The four countries have formed a customs union and favor rapid moves towards closer ties. But other former Soviet republics in the the 12-member CIS are wary of Russian domination and want to move more slowly. The summit runs today and tomorrow.

Turkey has established a buffer zone in northern Iraq to keep Kurdish PKK rebels away from its border, the Ankara newspaper Hurriyet said. The report indicated that 8,000 Turkish soldiers were in the zone, but didn't say how large it was. The PKK, which has bases in Iraq to launch cross-border attacks at Turkish targets, is fighting for autonomy in southeastern Turkey. The war has killed some 28,000 people since 1984.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said talks with the Palestinian Authority were getting back on track, following the conclusion of US envoy Dennis Ross's latest peace mission. But a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Arafat said the top-level meetings arranged by Ross did not produce any breakthroughs and gave a "false impression" that tensions between the two sides had ended. Ross's visit aimed to accelerate talks on implementing outstanding points from a 1995 interim peace deal.

At the urging of President K.R. Narayanan, India's Cabinet met to reconsider its decision concerning the state government in Uttar Pradesh. The cabinet decided to seek federal rule in the country's largest state, after lawmakers there began fighting each other during a no-confidence vote in the Hindu Nationalist BJP government. At the federal level, the BJP is the main opposition party. BJP leaders say the center-left coalition government is trying to keep them out of power. The government accuses the BJP of fanning religious tension.

South African President Nelson Mandela was due to arrive in Tripoli for a meeting with Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi. The US, which accuses Libya of sponsoring terrorism, expressed disappointment over the two-day visit. Mandela was to travel by road from neighboring Tunisia to avoid violating UN air sanctions imposed after Libya refused to hand over two suspects in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am airliner. Before Mandela's arrival, South Africa's foreign minister said the sanctions "ought to be done away with."

Torrential rains did not deter protesters in Thailand, who vowed to keep demonstrating until Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh resigns. Hundreds marched for a third day outside Thailand's main government building while Chavalit and other officials pressed on with talks over a cabinet reshuffle. The new cabinet is expected to be finalized this week. The government has come under increasing attack for mismanaging Thailand's economy.

Police confiscated more than 100,000 illegal CDs with right-wing extremist content, after searching 26 houses in northern Germany. Some 260,000 counterfeit music CDs also were seized. Fourteen people are being investigated, including a record store owner, who faces possible charges of inciting racial hatred, the use of banned symbols, and copyright infringement.

"Ultimately, companies found there was more to doing business than cutting jobs."

- American Management Association official Eric Greenberg, on a new study showing corporate downsizing at its lowest level in this decade.


Remember Fred Nolan Jr.? As related in this space last week, he's the fellow who escaped in handcuffs from a Spokane, Wash., police station and later mailed them back - without a return address. Well, he's wearing them again after police spotted him walking along a public street and rearrested him. While it appears the cops got the last laugh, a spokesman for the force described Nolan, who has a lengthy criminal record, as "not a funny figure."

The Day's List

Camera Maker Rated Top Small Company in the US

Forbes magazine's 11th annual list of the 200 best small companies ranks Panavision No. 1. The Woodland Hills, Calif., firm recorded $144 million in sales last year to the motion picture and television industries alone. Forbes's top 10 and their profits (in millions of dollars) as reported in the Nov. 3 issue:

1. Panavision, camera systems $54

2. Abacus Direct, marketing research $165

3. Eagle USA Airfreight $70

4. JDA Software Group $117

5. Eltron International, computers $101

6. Renal Care Group $68

7. Safeskin, rubber gloves $19

8. Sterling Commerce $3

9. Apollo Group, adult educational products $24

10. Metro Information Services $151

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