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News In Brief

The US

After bitter debate, the House Judiciary Committee approved a four articles of impeachment against President Clinton and rejected a Democratic effort to censure rather than impeach him. The votes came despite a last-minute Clinton apology in which he stopped short of admitting criminal wrongdoing. As the White House tried to blunt the impeachment drive by appealing to the majority of Americans who say they don't support impeachment, the president flew to Israel. He is to return Wednesday, just before impeachment goes to the House floor.

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University of Texas running back Ricky Williams was the runaway winner of the Heisman Trophy, college football's most prestigious award. Williams collected 714 first-place votes from more than 900 voters. He is the all-time leading rusher in Division I-A - his 6,279 yards breaking the old mark set by 1976 Heisman winner Tony Dorsett of the University of Pittsburgh.

The FBI reported a 7 percent nationwide drop in the number of violent crimes during first six months of the year. Robberies decreased 11 percent from January through June; murders declined 8 percent. The number of so-called property crimes fell 5 percent. The violent crimes decline extends a trend that began in 1992.

Endeavour's astronauts were to return to Earth tomorrow after releasing into orbit the first two building blocks of the international space station. Two spacewalking astronauts completed work on the outpost Saturday. The next construction mission is set for May.

An arbitration panel awarded $8.16 billion to lawyers who negotiated tobacco settlements for Texas, Florida, and Mississippi, setting off a firestorm of criticism from the tobacco industry and others. Five private attorneys who led legal teams in Texas will receive $3.3 billion, a divided three-member arbitration group announced in Dallas. The 11-firm legal team that worked on the Florida case was awarded $3.43 billion; the 13-firm Mississippi team was awarded $1.43 billion. The awards were considerably less than the $6 billion to $25 billion attorneys had requested.

Puerto Ricans went to the polls in the third plebiscite in less than 30 years on the island's relationship with the US. Statehood lost in the previous two votes - but gained ground in each, losing in 1993 by just two percentage points. The referendum is not binding, but if statehood comes out ahead, supporters will use it to push Congress to allow Puerto Rico to begin the legal process toward statehood.

Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles, who died in Tallahassee Saturday, was a plain-speaking, populist Democrat who could make complex issues understandable to ordinary people. A champion of family issues, Chiles was elected to the US Senate in 1970 and to the governor's office in 1990. He narrowly defeated GOP challenger Jeb Bush in 1994, then didn't seek re-election this year. Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay has been sworn in as governor. But Bush, who defeated MacKay in November, will replace him in January.

The World

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Israelis and Palestinians "both should adhere" better to the provisions of the October peace deal he brokered, President Clinton told a news conference in Jerusalem. Analysts were saying Clinton's visit, intended as a celebration of the deal, has turned into a mission to save it.

In his first public reaction to congressional impeachment votes, Clinton also said he had "no intention of resigning." "It's never crossed my mind," he told the same news conference. Likewise, he said he wouldn't heed calls to admit that he committed perjury when testifying under oath about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

Two more political dissidents in China were arrested and the author of a petition demanding the release of pro-democracy leader Wang Youcai is missing, human-rights sources said. All are believed linked to the would-be China Democracy Party, whose formation has been intensely fought by the government. Wang is due to go on trial for subversion Thursday. A lawyer hired by his family to defend him was prevented from traveling to the trial, the human rights sources said.

Two days after presentation of the Nobel Peace Prize to the key participants in the April Northern Ireland accord, the province's No. 2 city erupted in violence. Catholic militants burned vehicles and threw gasoline bombs at police in protest of a march in Londonderry by the Protestant Apprentice Boys group. Some marchers also clashed with police when they were prevented from parading through the central square twice in the same day.

Antigovernment UNITA rebels now have the upper hand in fighting for control of Angola's central highlands - and their firepower is "far beyond" what they had before, an Army spokesman said. He claimed UNITA was backed by mercenaries from Israel, South Africa, Morocco, and Ukraine and had tanks, long-range artillery, and other weapons not previously seen. The Army began a campaign against rebel strongholds in the highlands Dec. 4.

The International Olympic Committee was described as shaken to the core by the allegations of a member of its inner circle that at least four host cities were chosen on the basis of millions of dollars in bribes and other payoffs. Marc Hodler, a Swiss attorney, cited a pattern of ethical malpractice in the bidding by - or selection of - Atlanta and Athens for the 1996 Summer Games; Nagano, Japan, for this year's Winter Games; Sydney, Australia, for the 2000 Summer Games, and Salt Lake City for the 2002 Winter Games. The IOC "disassociated" itself from Hodler's allegations but did not deny them.

Thousands of police and paramilitary troops patrolled the two major cities in Bangladesh after an election protest turned violent. Dhaka, the capital, and the port of Chittagong were virtually idle, and commercial highway traffic was shut down.The violence grew out of a strike called by opposition politicians because of an election that they claim was rigged. At least 100 people were hurt and 150 others were arrested.

Business and Finance

For only the second time since World War II, a major Japanese lending institution was taken over by the national government. Over the objections of its executives, Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi placed Nippon Credit Bank "under special public management" after authorities declared it insolvent. Nippon Credit listed assets of $106 billion last year, but was found to have at least $27 billion in stock-valuation losses and uncollectible loans.

Mergers involving four of the six largest banks in Canada are expected to be vetoed today by the Finance Ministry, Toronto newspapers reported. Last January, Royal Bank of Canada agreed to join forces with Bank of Montreal. Toronto-Dominion Bank and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce then followed suit. A yet-unpublished report on competitiveness found problems of "undue concentration" in the industry if the mergers were OK'd, the reports said.

A controversial $67 billion bailout of private banks in Mexico moved a step closer to implementation when the lower house of Congress approved it on a 325-to-159 vote. The measure is widely unpopular because most of the cost would be borne by taxpayers. Some of the bankers involved were major contributors to President Ernesto Zedillo's 1994 campaign.


'I could not admit to doing something that I am quite sure I did not do.' - President Clinton, telling reporters in Jerusalem he had testified in a "difficult and ambiguous and unhelpful" manner concerning Monica Lewinsky - but without committing perjury.


Waterfront property: It's something many of us dream of owning. Scratch Koos Malan from the list. He had the ultimate. His lot at Cape Agulhas, South Africa, was the southernmost on the continent. The Atlantic and Indian oceans meet not 100 yards from the front door. But Malan has sold out to a trust for development into a park with hotels, shops, and restaurants. "The only thing right about that place," he said, "was the address."


Imagining a hostage drama unfolding inside, police stormed the darkened McDonald's outlet in the Dutch town of Bodegraven because it was way past opening time and the manager couldn't be found. Until he showed up a few minutes later, that is, thinking he'd been assigned to the late shift.

The Day's List

Board of Review announces film-award winners for '98

"Gods and Monsters" turned back a Hollywood blockbuster last week to become the 1998 movie-of-the-year pick of the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. Ian McKellen, the star, snagged best-actor honors for his role in the movie, directed by Bill Condon. The runner-up was the Steven Spielberg epic, "Saving Private Ryan," followed by "Elizabeth," directed by Shekhar Kapur. Some observers said the awards may foreshadow a strong showing for independent films at the Academy Awards in March. The board's 1998 award winners:

Best movie "Gods and Monsters"

Best foreign movie "Central Station"

Best director Shekhar Kapur "Elizabeth"

Best actor Ian McKellen "Gods and Monsters"

Best actress Fernanda Montenegro "Central Station"

Best supporting actor Ed Harris "The Truman Show" "Stepmom"

Best supporting actress Christina Ricci "The Opposite of Sex," "Buffalo '66," and "Pecker"

Best documentary "Wild Man Blues"

- Associated Press

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