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News In Brief

The US

President Clinton has issued new targeting guidelines for nuclear weapons, dropping the dictum that the US must be prepared to win a protracted nuclear war, The Washington Post reported. Quoting unidentified senior administration officials, the Post said the guidelines could pave the way for a reduction in the US nuclear arsenal.

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The nation's unemployment rate slid in November to a fresh 24-year low of 4.6 percent, the Labor Department said. The jobless rate was down from October's 4.7 percent, setting for the second month in a row its lowest reading since a 4.6 percent rate in 1973. In addition, the proportion of the population that was employed reportedly rose last month to an all-time high of 64 percent from 63.7 percent in October.

Vice President Gore celebrated the 50th birthday of Everglades National Park, announcing a $133.5 million land purchase to help restore the park's imperiled ecosystem. St. Joe Corp., Florida's largest landowner, confirmed it had agreed in principle to sell its 50,000-acre Talisman Sugar Plantation. The company said it would be allowed to farm the tract for five more years, after which it would donate some 3,000 additional acres to nongovernmental organizations.

Later, Gore left the US for the global warming conference in Kyoto, Japan, where he will head US efforts to negotiate an accord on controlling the emission of carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases.

A private memo from FBI Director Louis Freeh to Attorney General Janet Reno was subpoenaed by the House panel investigating campaign fund raising. Rep. Dan Burton (R) of Indiana, chairman of the committee, said subpoenas became necessary after negotiations between his panel and top officials at the Justice Department and FBI failed to resolve Reno's objections to giving up the memo on appointing a special counsel.

The US Supreme Court agreed to tackle the issue of a school district's legal responsibility for a teacher's misconduct. It will study a lawsuit against a Texas school district over a teacher's sexual relationship with a ninth-grade student.

A winter storm soaked southern California, flooding people out of mobile home parks and blocking the Pacific Coast Highway. Santa Barbara reportedly had 9 inches of rain in 24 hours. Laguna Beach reported 6.34 inches Saturday morning. Orange County firefighters used inflatable boats to evacuate elderly residents of two mobile home parks in Huntington Beach.

Two employees of TWA and an author who claimed a US Navy missile shot down TWA Flight 800 were charged with stealing evidence from the aircraft wreckage. Prosecutors in Brooklyn, N.Y., issued warrants for James Sanders, author of "The Downing of Flight 800," his TWA flight attendant wife, Elizabeth Sanders, and TWA pilot Robert Stacey. The complaint alleged they stole parts of recovered seat fabric from the Boeing 747 that exploded and crashed off Long Island July 17, 1996, killing all 230 persons aboard.

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Lee Brown, the former US drug czar, became Houston's first black mayor, narrowly defeating businessman Rob Mosbacher. Brown reportedly collected 156,169 votes (53 percent) to Mosbacher's 140,321 (47 percent).

Former Arizona State basketball players Stevin Smith and Isaac Burton Jr. pleaded guilty to taking part in a point-shaving scheme. In court documents, they admitted taking payoffs on four home games during the 1993-94 season. Smith, the university's No. 2 all-time scorer, said in the plea agreement that he had agreed to fix the games in part to repay gambling debts owed to a bookmaker and that he had asked Burton to help him in the effort.

The World

Secretary of State Albright planned to meet again separately next week with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Arafat after her tour of Africa. Similar talks with them over the weekend yielded no movement on the issue of a stepped-up Israeli pullback from the West Bank. Netanyahu rebuffed her request for specifics on such a withdrawal, while Arafat left his meeting saying it showed the US backs his demands for a "substantial" pullback.

Israel's government prepared to issue a back-to-work order for "essential personnel" as the nationwide strike by 700,000 union members kept commerce to a minimum for the fifth straight day. Union leaders blame the walkout on the Finance Ministry, which proposes to roll back a pension agreement signed by the previous Labour Party government. Damage to the economy so far is estimated at $57 million.

A deadlock in Parliament over land rights for Australia's Aboriginal people is making new elections virtually certain, Prime Minister John Howard said. The lower house is endorsing a bill that would restrict the right of Aborigines to lay claim to acreage leased by the government to private farmers. The Senate has proposed changes to the measure. Australians are not scheduled to vote again until 1999, and Howard's government currently trails well behind the opposition in public-opinion polls.

Violence erupted across Spain's Basque region in retaliation for the jailing of separatist political leaders. Supporters of the ETA guerrilla group firebombed buildings or police vehicles in San Sebastian, Sopelana, Pamplona, Sukarrieta, and Azpeitia. Also in San Sebastian, rock- and bottle-throwing demonstrators clashed with police as the latter rounded up senior members of ETA's political wing, Herri Batasuna, to begin serving seven-year prison sentences.

Russia grounded all flights by Antonov-124 military cargo planes, the type that crashed in Irkutsk, until the cause of the accident is known. Rescuers searched the area where the plane hit an apartment building Saturday, killing at least 62 people and hospitalizing 13 others. The crash occurred on takeoff in below-zero weather and was the third involving an Antonov-124 since 1993.

Chanting "peace, peace," thousands of Cambodians defied their government's wishes and paraded through the capital, Phnom Penh. The march was led by opposition politician Sam Rainsy. Political observers say Sam Rainsy enjoys wide popular support as an alternative to Cambodia's feuding political leaders, Premier Hun Sen and his ousted rival, Norodom Randriddh. Hun Sen's government had denied a permit for the march, but it took place without incident.

Nigerians generally ignored last weekend's local elections, the second in a series aimed at a return to democratic government next year. Turnout even in areas that strongly back military ruler Sani Abacha was lower than in previous balloting. In Lagos, the largest city and center of opposition to Abacha, streets were deserted until the polls closed. The country's five registered political parties all are broad supporters of Abacha's regime.

Muslim leaders from around the world gathered in Tehran for a summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which Iran hoped would transform its image from pariah to power broker. But the three-day gathering comes at a time when the host country is confronting open challenges to the absolute power of senior cleric Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and analysts said it was significant that Khamenei was to deliver the conference's keynote speech instead of more moderate President Mohammad Khatami.

"The doors of opportunity have opened wider for all of Houston's children .... They now know that any child can grow up to lead this city."

- Former US drug-policy director Lee Brown, on becoming the first black mayor of America's fourth-largest city.


For some residents of The Colony, Texas, a Dallas suburb, the bells of Calvary Christian Center just don't have much appeal. Because they complained, the Rev. Thomas Jackson faces trial Dec. 16 on charges that the computer-activated bells violate a noise ordinance. He says he hopes to leave with a not-guilty verdict ringing in his ears.

Athletic ability may have to be added to the criteria for seeking political office, if an election in Honduras is any indication. Rather than meet again in a runoff, it has been proposed that two candidates who tied for mayor of San Juan de Opoa last month settle the issue via a soccer shootout. Each would get five tries to kick the ball past the other and into the net from point-blank range, with victory going to the man with more goals.

Thailand must adopt all sorts of austerity measures to meet terms of an international bailout of its economy. But starving the fish in the pond outside parliament won't be one of them. Aides carped at a proposal to save $400 a month by eliminating the food for the colorful fish. The proposal was scaled back, and now the lawmakers are casting about for some other way to achieve the savings.

The Day's List

Awards For Those Who Defined Grace in 1997

To recognize persons or places demonstrating "grace, poise, diplomacy, and benign good manners" under the intense scrutiny of the public eye, the Herbert Stanley Co. of Gurnee, Ill., maker of Weiman furniture-care products, has announced its first Weiman Most Polished Awards. The 1997 winners, in their respective categories:

Person: John F. Kennedy Jr.

Golfer: Tiger Woods

Coed: Chelsea Clinton

TV host: Rosie O'Donnell

Performer: Robert Redford

Philanthropist: Joan Kroc

Rock group: The Rolling Stones

City: New York

Newscaster: Hugh Downs

- PRNewswire

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