News In Brief
At the end of a meeting with leaders of the European Union, President Clinton said there would be agreement by the end of January on loosening restrictions on some $40 billion in annual telecommunications and electronics trade between the US and the EU. Under the accord, US inspection or certification of such goods would be accepted by the EU, and vice versa. Also, Clinton joined Irish Prime Minister John Bruton in an appeal to the IRA for an immediate ceasefire so that momentum could be rebuilt for the Northern Ireland peace process.
The president defended Anthony Lake, his choice to be CIA director, but acknowledged that Congress should have been better informed of Iranian arms sales to Bosnian Muslims. Some senators have attacked the Lake nomination because of his role in decisions on arms sales.
The US Supreme Court stayed the scheduled execution in Virginia of Joseph O'Dell. The action followed a protest from Pope John Paul II. The Roman Catholic Church opposes capital punishment, and the pontiff had voiced his concern over several other US cases over the years. O'Dell had been scheduled for execution tonight in Virginia's electric chair for murdering a woman in 1985. The court issued its ruling, pending a review of his appeal.
More than $3 billion was raised to help rebuild Lebanon during an international conference in Washington. A joint statement by Lebanon and the US said participants pledged more than $1 billion in immediate aid and an additional $2.2 billion in multiyear giving.
The Federal Reserve was expected to leave interest rates unchanged at its final meeting of the year in Washington. Meanwhile, November housing starts shot up at the fastest rate in 16 months, with a 9.2 percent gain, the Commerce Department said. They were strongest in the Midwest, which registered a 20.8 percent jump.
The Asian-money controversy spilled over into the Clintons' Whitewater defense fund, with a belated disclosure that some $600,000 in questionable donations were returned, beginning in March. Charles Yah Lin Trie was reportedly appointed to a presidential commission on Asian trade several weeks after delivering $450,000 to the fund on March 21.
More people are asking cities for emergency food and shelter a US Conference of Mayors report said. A survey of 29 cities noted an 11 percent increase in requests for food aid in 1996. Food requests were up 9 percent in 1995. Emergency-housing appeals rose 5 percent, compared to an 11 percent increase last year.
A plan to streamline inspections of federally funded nursing homes drew criticism from consumer groups and state officials. The Department of Health and Human Services proposal was outlined in documents recently sent to officials nationwide, the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times reported. Critics said proposed changes could put the elderly at greater risk of abuse.
The Citadel suspended a second cadet and relieved five others of their commands as a result of claims by two female students that they had been harassed. The two women - half the female cadets attending the Charleston, S.C., military academy - moved off campus as authorities continued to investigate the charges.
Women earn only 71 cents for every dollar earned by men, Working Woman magazine said. A survey found only three job categories where pay for women was higher. Female vice presidents of marketing, female engineers with 10 to 14 years experience, and female pharmacists at chain stores earned slightly more than men in similar positions, the survey showed.
The Peace Corps is creating a special "crisis corps" of volunteers for short-term international relief efforts, such as natural disasters. Director Mark Gearan said he hoped to have as many as 100 volunteers in place by early 1997. The new corps would be staffed by returning and former volunteers. Some 7,000 Peace Corps members currently serve in 90 foreign countries.
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators resumed efforts to reach a deal on the redeployment of troops from the West Bank city of Hebron. Their meeting came despite tensions over Israeli plans to build or expand Jewish settlements on Arab-held land. Israel rejected criticism from President Clinton, who said settlements were "absolutely" an obstacle to peace. A spokesman in Jerusalem said the US, not Israel, needed to change its position on the issue.
Forty Israeli opposition members of the Knesset, Israel's parliament, used a new law to try to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from power. If passed, the measure would require a new election for the office but not for the Knesset. It appeared destined to fail because Netanyahu's coalition controls parliament, but it would at least force a special hearing within 30 days on his competence to serve.
Serbian President Milosevic met with students who marched 150 miles to Belgrade to present demands for democratic reforms. A spokesman for the students said he promised an investigation into election fraud, after victories by his opponents in local balloting were overturned by Serbian courts. That action has led to four weeks of anti-Milosevic demonstrations in the capital.
Kofi Annan of Ghana was expected to be confirmed as the new UN secretary-general by a vote of the 185-member General Assembly. The current director of the agency's peacekeeping operations said he would appeal directly to Congress for payment of the $1.4 billion US debt to the UN. Congress has refused to authorize payment of the debt until the UN undertakes broad-based reforms.
Thousands of Zaireans greeted President Mobutu Sese Seko on his return from France to show that he still controls his country. He had been recovering from surgery on the Riviera while his troops waged an uphill struggle against Tutsi-led rebels. Meanwhile, a meeting in Nairobi of other African leaders adjourned after discussing new peace strategies for Zaire and neighboring Rwanda.
Tanzania lifted a ban that had kept aid agencies from working in Hutu refugee camps on its soil. But the government said aid workers should feed only refugees from Burundi. All Rwandan Hutus have been ordered to leave Tanzania by the end of the month. Government officials say the political climate in Burundi remains too violent for Hutu refugees to return home.
In his first policy speech since being chosen as Hong Kong's first postcolonial leader, Tung Chee Hwa said his administration won't give preferential treatment to Chinese businesses. Tung said overseas investors would be needed - and should stay - once the British colony reverts to Chinese rule next July 1.
An official Burmese newspaper called democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi a "traitor" who was conspiring with Western governments to cause anarchy in Burma. It said the Nobel Peace Prize-winner was "doomed to face destruction." Burma's military government has blamed her for last week's demonstrations by hundreds of students in the capital, Rangoon. The government denied US accusations that 187 of the students were arrested.
The Red Cross said unidentified gunmen killed six of its aid workers as they slept at a hospital in Chechnya. A seventh worker was seriously wounded in the attack at Novye Atagi, near the capital, Grozny. The agency said it was suspending its activities in the breakaway region until an investigation was complete. Five of those killed were women.
"Mayors are anxious. I'm anxious. I'm not sure what's going to happen once this law goes into effect."
- Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, on the ability of cities to provide emergency food and shelter under new federal welfare reforms.
True story: Colorado is using fake deer and elk to catch wildlife poachers. Game wardens say they've collected almost $11,000 in fines from hunters who shot at the plastic animals positioned near public roads. Some of the decoys are so realistic that their tails twitch.
Some towns fight to keep out fast-food franchises. Downey, Calif., battled to keep an existing McDonald's in place, 60-foot golden arches and all. The 1953-vintage burger stand - the chain's oldest - was damaged in an earthquake two years ago and was to be torn down. But preservationists argued for its historical value, and the landmark will stay. Its prices, however, aren't historic; they're strictly up to date.
Abilene's Cooper High School football team is one of the fastest in Texas. The same can't be said for the school band. When it ran two minutes over its allotted time at a playoff game, officials of Texas Stadium (home of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys) billed the school $1,200 - for increased operating costs. Then, perhaps realizing the public-relations impact of their action, they forgave the fine as long as the band promises not to do it again.
The Day's List
Top News Stories of '96
The top 10 international news stories of 1996, as voted by worldwide subscribers to the services of the Associated Press:
1. President Clinton's reelection.
2. Russian President Boris Yeltsin's reelection and recovery from surgery.
3. Israeli and Palestinian elections and the Middle East peace process.
4. Warfare and refugee crisis in central Africa.
5. World's worst year for airplane crashes.
6. Economic, political, and medical impacts of "mad cow" disease scare in Europe.
7. France ends nuclear weapons testing; 65 countries sign Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
8. Bosnian elections and related war-crimes tribunal.
9. Centennial Park bombing at the Atlanta Olympics.
10. Belgium's child-sex scandal.