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News In Brief

The US

The White House sharply criticized the impeachment probe of President Clinton, accusing Republicans of marching in "lock step" with independent counsel Kenneth Starr. Speaking on the eve of Starr's appearance today before the House Judiciary Committee, spokesman Joe Lockhart accused the panel of unfairly planning to restrict Clinton's lawyers in their questioning of Starr while preparing to expand the scope of its inquiry. The White House agreed to participate in the questioning of Starr, but asked for 90 minutes instead of the 30 minutes offered by the committee - a request rejected by panel chairman Henry Hyde (R) of Illinois.

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House Republicans unanimously endorsed Louisiana's Bob Livingston to succeed Newt Gingrich as Speaker. This means Livingston will almost certainly be elected officially for a two-year term by the full House when the GOP-dominated chamber reconvenes Jan. 6. Other Republican House leadership posts - from majority leader to National Congressional Committee chairman - had not been decided as the Monitor went to press.

Clinton left for Tokyo, the first stop on his trip to Asia. Today he calls on Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at the Imperial Palace. Later, he will tape a town-hall conversation with Japanese citizens. Tomorrow, he addresses the American Chamber of Commerce in Tokyo and flies to Seoul, South Korea. The president's weekend in South Korea will include talks with President Kim Dae Jung and a visit with US troops stationed at Osan Air Force Base.

Growing numbers of youthful offenders are subject to physical abuse, excessive incarceration, and detainment in adult facilities, an Amnesty International USA study said. Among its other findings: Thirty-eight states house juveniles in adult prisons with no special programs or educational services, even though children in adult facilities are twice as likely to be beaten by staff and five times more likely to be sexually assaulted than those in juvenile facilities. Recommendations included locking up children only as a last resort, periodic inspections by independent officials, and separate housing for young offenders.

US Rep. Patrick Kennedy was named new chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee by House minority leader Richard Gephardt. Kennedy's office said the Rhode Island Democrat is the youngest member of Congress to be chosen for a senior House leadership position. In another move, Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina was elected to succeed Rep. Maxine Waters of California as chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Nebraska and Wisconsin became the 13th and 14th states to support a proposed tobacco settlement of funds spent treating smoking-related illness. Representatives of eight of those states negotiated an agreement that was announced Monday. Tobacco-industry officials said they need a minimum number of states to proceed with the deal, but would not be more specific. Dozens of additional states have until tomorrow to decide whether they want to take part in what could turn out to be the nation's biggest civil settlement.

The World

Saying, "We have resumed our activities," UN arms inspectors in Iraq headed for undisclosed sites, accompanied by a convoy of government security vehicles. Their first challenge was expected to come when they attempt surprise checks of places where chemical and biological weapons or long-range-missile components may be hidden. Once the inspectors report that they're able to work "effectively," the Security Council has pledged to review Iraqi compliance with UN resolutions

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Leaders of Asian and Pacific Rim nations ended a two-day conference in Malaysia by pledging a rescue plan for the region's battered economies. It focused on relief for heavily indebted corporations and banks. But analysts said the plan mostly papered over deep divisions among those attending over mixing politics with business, making consensus on economic recovery more difficult.

Rival antigovernment forces in Congo said they'd struck a deal to work together and would jointly attend a new round of negotiations beginning tomorrow in Botswana. The talks are aimed at considering proposals for a cease-fire in the fight to oust President Laurent Kabila. Kabila, who has lost more than one-third of the country to the rebels, so far has refused to meet with their negotiators.

Russian President Yeltsin's place on a state visit to India next month will be taken by Prime Minister Yevgeny Prima-kov, the Kremlin said. But a spokesman denied that the switch was "connected with the president's health." Yeltsin, who recently was ordered by physicians to rest, missed a state dinner for visiting Japanese Prime Minister Obuchi last week and a trip to Austria in late October. He did, however, meet with new German Chancellor Gerhard Schrder earlier this week.

The only televised debate among candidates for the top elective office in Quebec quick-ly turned bitter. Separatist-minded Premier Lucien Bouchard and his main challenger, Jean Charest, accused each other's parties of holding the province back from realizing its full potential. Charest asserted that mostly French-speaking Quebeckers would benefit if the threat of secession from the rest of Canada faded. Bouchard repeated his pledge to call a new referendum on secession, but only when conditions assured it would pass.

The controversy in the Philippines over imposing the death penalty deepened as lawyers petitioned the courts to end the "inhumane" practice of not announcing execution dates in advance. No one has been put to death by the state in 22 years. But this week a court in Quezon City ordered the national prison system to carry out the execution of a convicted rapist. Under current rules, he'd be told when he was to die only after sunrise on the day lethal injection was to be administered. Capital punishment in the Philippines was abolished in 1987; it was reinstated in 1994.

Business and Finance

The Federal Reserve cut interest rates for the third time in seven weeks, but signaled Wall Street not to expect further reductions soon. The rate charged among US banks on overnight loans fell to 4.75 percent from 5 percent. Major banks responded by cutting their prime lending rates to 7.75 percent, which will translate into cheaper monthly payments on a variety of consumer and business loans.

Blue chips rallied on Asia's three top stock exchanges - Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Singapore - in response to lower US interest rates and speculation that President Clinton's visit might spur Japan to do more to improve its economy.

The US trade deficit shrank in September from a record level, helped by surging aircraft exports, government figures showed. The trade gap fell by $1.9 billion to $14.03 billion. That was down from an all-time high of $15.9 billion in August.

A federal judge backed claims by Sun Microsystems and gave software giant Microsoft 90 days to modify its Windows 98 operating system or pull it from the market. District Judge Ronald Whyte said in San Jose, Calif., that Sun was "likely to prevail" in its lawsuit over Java programming language and issued a preliminary injunction barring Microsoft from selling products that use the technology.


"Efforts to utilize these proceedings as a forum to inquire ... into the conduct of the investigation ... shall not be permitted." - House Judiciary chairman Henry Hyde, setting the bounds of White House questioning of Kenneth Starr.


True story: A villager in impoverished Albania witnessed a one-car accident on a highway 45 miles south of the capital, Tirana. The driver was trapped inside and needed help. But how to summon it? Walking to the nearest police station would take too long, and our man had no telephone. But he did have a machine gun apparently looted from the local Army depot during Albania's civil unrest last year. So he hurried home, lugged the heavy weapon up to his roof, and blazed away until the authorities arrived to investigate. Assistance was rendered, and the Samaritan escaped arrest for disturbing the peace. But he'll have to find a new medium of communication. The gun was confiscated.

The Day's List

Ranking the developing world's biggest companies

South Korea's Daewoo Corp. can't compete with America's General Electric, the world's largest multinational corporation. Nonetheless, Daewoo is far and away the largest multinational in the developing world. That is one of the findings of a recently released UN Conference on Trade and Development study that includes rankings of such companies according to their foreign assets. Banks and other financial institutions were not included in the UN study. The top-10 transnationals among developing nations, the businesses they represent, and foreign assets (in billions):

1. Daewoo Corp., South Korea (diversified trading) $14.9

2. Petrleos de Venezuela (oil) 8.9

3. Cemex, Mexico (construction) 5.3

4. First Pacific Co., Hong Kong and China (electronics) 4.6

5. Sappi Limited, South Africa (paper) 3.8

6. Acer Group, Taiwan (electronics) n/a

7. Jardine Matheson Holdings, Bermuda (diversified) 3.4

8. China National Chemicals, Import/Export Corp. (diversified) 3.2

9. China State Construction & Engineering Corp. (diversified) 2.8

10. Compaia de Telecomunicaciones de Chile (utilities) 2.7

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