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News In Brief

The US

The number of "undecided" members of the House on impeaching President Clinton was estimated at as few as 10, with more expected to announce which way they intended to vote on the issue tomorrow. House members reported their phones ringing off the hook as Cabinet secretaries, labor leaders, corporate lobbyists, interest groups, and other Americans tried to influence opinions.

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In a sign that public opinion on Clinton's continued viability in office may be shifting, 58 percent of respondents to an ABC News/Washington Post poll said he should resign if the full House approves articles of impeachment. The survey sampled 1,004 adults between Dec. 11 and 13. Meanwhile, more than half of those questioned in a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, said they were unhappy with the president's handling of Congress's investigation into his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. The Pew poll was based on telephone interviews of 1,201 adults between Dec. 9 and 13.

New evidence in the hands of federal investigators suggests that China was attempting to gain access to sophisticated US technology through its contributions to Democratic Party candidates in 1996, The New York Times reported. Citing a Justice Department official, the Times said China appeared to be following the model of American corporations in using donations to raise the profile of its Washington lobbyists, who, in turn, could argue for technology and trade policies favorable to the Beijing government. US law forbids campaign contributions from foreign governments.

Astronauts aboard the shuttle Endeavour, some of whom haven't finished shopping for Christmas gifts, were described as eager for their return to Cape Canaveral, Fla. In the event of bad weather, considered a strong possibility, the Endeavour crew could try to land four times today - although two would have to be at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

Fifty thousand Holocaust survivors in the US can expect goodwill payments of $500 each next month from a special new Swiss fund, a World Jewish Congress official said. The fund was set up by a coalition of Swiss banks and corporations and is intended to help the neediest survivors. Anyone accepting a check from the fund remains eligible for additional reparations from a $1.25 billion account for holders of dormant World War II-era accounts in Swiss banks, or their heirs.

All 2,247 police officers in Boston are to be issued personalized locks for their guns, making the department the first in a major US city to take that step, The Boston Globe report-ed. The locks, which cost $80 each, are childproof and can be opened in seconds. Police are not expected to keep their guns locked while on duty.

A special session of the Connecticut legislature was to vote on a $375 million publicly funded stadium in Hartford for the New England Patriots. If approved, the deal, considered the most generous in the nation for a pro-football franchise, would bring the Patriots to the capital in 2001.

The World

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President Clinton headed home from the Middle East, unable to persuade Israel to meet a Friday deadline to hand over more West Bank land for Palestinian self-rule. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said no more land would be ceded until the Palestinians honored their commitments under the October peace deal brokered by Clinton. Senior Palestinian officials accused Israel of wrecking his bid to salvage the accord.

While international delegates met to find ways to strengthen the "fragile" peace in Bosnia, their attention was diverted to a renewal of ethnic violence in the nearby province of Kosovo. The clashes, reportedly killing 37 people, threatened to shatter the two-month-old cease-fire in Kosovo between the Serb government and separatist ethnic Albanians. The fighting cast a shadow over a conference in Madrid, which was called to press Bosnian leaders to heal regional ethnic divisions.

In what's believed to be China's biggest political crackdown in three years, two pro-democracy activists were preparing to stand trial tomorrow on subversion charges. The dissidents were arrested after they attempted to register an opposition political party. A Hong Kong human-rights group said police had detained seven members of the China Democracy Party to prevent protest demonstrations during the trials.

Southeast Asian leaders met in Hanoi, Vietnam to forge a strategy for restoring international confidence in their region, which is experiencing its worst economic crisis in 50 years. Leaders from the Association of Southeast Nations were expected to approve a list of "bold measures" to reverse economic decline. But they were deeply divided over the pace of economic liberalization.

Russian political and military leaders intensified their push for ratification of the START II treaty, saying any more delays could threaten nonproliferation efforts. Russia's parliament again postponed a decision on the pact, already held up for six years. Under the treaty, deployed US and Russian nuclear warheads would be cut by up to two-thirds by 2007.

A Rwandan Hutu military leader pleaded guilty before a UN court to charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, related to the massacres of some 800,000 people in 1994. Omar Serushago is the second defendant to plead guilty to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Hutu extremists launched the massacres to try to exterminate the ethnic Tutsi minority and moderate Hutus opposed to the genocide.

Libya's top legislative body approved plans for two intelligence agents - suspected in the 1988 bombing of a US airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland - to be tried in a neutral country, according to TV reports. They said the General People's Congress had called for Libya, Britain, and the US to "remove any obstacles" preventing trial. The US and Britain already agreed to a trial in the Netherlands.

Business and Finance

Retail prices rose a moderate 0.2 percent in November, an increase identical to that of the previous month, the Labor Department said. The Consumer Price Index, its main inflation gauge, was kept in check mostly because of a glut in oil supplies and because new-car, new-truck, and apparel price tags did not change at all.

In a move to discourage piracy by Internet users, executives of the world's five largest recording companies planned to announce a strategy for protecting control over music distribution. In New York, they were expected to describe an initiative to counter new technologies that allow computer users to copy CD-quality music for free. The Web site of one such technology, known as MP3, is visited by about 150,000 Internet users each day - half of whom download a fee song each time, industry experts say.

More than 176,000 asbestos-related claims against Owens Corning - almost 90 percent of its backlog - will be paid off beginning next year, the company said. The Toledo, Ohio-based maker of building products said the settlements would cost $1.2 billion and that it would set aside another $1.4 billion to cover future claims. Owens Corning stopped selling products containing asbestos in 1972.


'He's able to take what comes. He's shown that again and again in his presidency.'

- Clinton adviser Rev. J. Philip Wogaman of Foundry United Methodist Church

in Washington, on ABC's "Good Morning America"


Don't call Judge Dan Stack soft on crime. But the Madison County, Ill., jurist couldn't help feeling sorry for a young couple who arrived at his chambers to be married. Unfortunately, the groom set off the courthouse metal detector on the way in because he had a drug pipe and a small quantity of marijuana in his pocket and was arrested before the civil ceremony could be performed. What to do? Stack resolved the issue by presiding over the wedding vows first, then sentencing the new husband to a year's probation and a $100 fine.


It was an exciting race; India's Jyotirmoy Sikhdar held off a Chinese runner to take the women's 1,500 meters at the Asia Games at Bangkok, Thailand. Basking in success, her country's first in more than a week of competition, she climbed the victory stand for the presentation of her medal and the playing of India's national anthem - only to hear China's. "Oops, sorry," an announcer apologized while embarrassed officials rustled up the correct version.

The Day's List

'Star Trek' - in 9th version -

still popular with moviegoers

"Star Trek: Insurrection" debuted in the top spot at weekend box offices, grossing $22.4 million. Nonetheless, it was still one of the weaker openings for a "Star Trek" film. "Star Trek: First Contact" opened with $30.7 million in 1996, and "Star Trek Generations" took in $23.1 million in its 1994 debut. "Insurrection" did top "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country," which opened with $18.2 million in 1991. Estimated grosses at North American theaters Dec. 11-13 (in millions):

1. "Star Trek: Insurrection" $22.1

2. "A Bug's Life" 11.2

3. "Jack Frost" 7.1

4. "Enemy of the State" 6.7

5. "The Rugrats Movie" 4.5

6. "The Waterboy" 4.4

7. "Psycho" 3.8

8. "Babe: Pig in the City" 1.7

9. "Meet Joe Black" 1.6

10. "Elizabeth" 1.3

- Exhibitor Relations Inc./AP

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