News In Brief

THE WORLD

Japan's prime minister ordered tighter security for all government officials after the country's top police official -- who was leading a probe of last week's subway nerve-gas attack -- was shot and seriously wounded outside his home yesterday. Shortly after the shooting, an anonymous caller to the Asahi TV network said the chief of Tokyo Metropolitan Police would be the next target unless police stop investigating a sect suspected in the subway attack.

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A Dutch peacekeeper was killed when an artillery shell hit his observation post in a combat zone in northeastern Bosnia. The UN said the attack was probably deliberate. The shelling was the latest in a string of attacks and harassment aimed at UN troops as the rival armies head toward all-out war after abandoning a cease-fire.

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In the midst of a presidential election campaign, French transport workers went on a day-long strike yesterday dubbed in advance ''Black Thursday.'' The strikers demanded higher pay and an end to job cuts. Prime Minister Balladur, a leading conservative candidate, went on national TV to report that France's jobless rate fell by 10,200 in February.

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The Clinton administration said it would order a review of allegations that the CIA knew that an informant on its payroll ordered the deaths of a Guatemalan guerrilla leader and an American innkeeper in Guatemala. The colonel has denied the accusations. The New York Times reported that the Bush administration let the CIA secretly funnel millions of dollars to Guatemala's military after supposedly barring them from any funding after the killing of the American innkeeper in 1990.

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Germany's central bank unexpectedly lowered a key lending rate yesterday in a move that could help the battered US dollar in foreign-exchange trading. The Bundesbank lowered its discount rate to 4 percent from 4.5 percent, the first rate change since May 1994. The rate cut should help the dollar by making the German mark less attractive to foreign investors.

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About 60 gunmen were killed in battles between rival clan militias in a town in northwestern Somalia, residents said yesterday.

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The EU removed threats of sanctions against Canada and instead pushed for negotiations to resolve a transatlantic fishing-rights dispute. Spain asked the EU to retaliate immediately if Canadian authorities again chased, seized, or damaged Spanish trawlers fishing off Newfoundland's Grand Banks.

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Ruling out room for dissent, Pope John Paul II delivered the Roman Catholic Church's most forceful condemnation yet of abortion, euthanasia, and experimentation on human embryos. In an encyclical released yesterday, the pope condemned a spreading ''culture of death.'' He also refined the Church's stand on the death penalty, saying its justification is ''practically nonexistent.''

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Russian Foreign Minister Kozyrev met with Syria's foreign minister in an attempt to bolster the flagging Mideast peace talks. He will go next to Lebanon and Israel. Syria earlier said it expected peace talks with Israel to remain deadlocked. It blamed Israeli Prime Minister Rabin.

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Haitian President Aristide said Haiti was secure enough for the transfer of peacekeeping duties to a UN-led force, despite the assassination of a prominent supporter of the country's former military regime. He called for stronger efforts to disarm criminals.

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Nicaraguan officials met to try to resolve the country's constitutional crisis. In a move that some politicians say threatens Nicaragua's governability, President Chamorro refused to recognize 66 amendments to the constitution published in February by the National Assembly.

THE US

President Clinton told Southern voters he has made their lives better, and he warned them that the GOP is trying to strip his crime and education programs and weaken welfare. Yesterday Clinton was in Florida, a key electoral state, to speak to the state legislature. He was flying from there to Haiti to take a bow for a foreign-policy success. The president said he opposes the $13 billion spending-cuts package now in the Senate because it targets social programs.

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The House defeated the GOP term-limits amendment, but the issue will remain a hot one in Congress and the 1996 election. House Speaker Gingrich said it would be the first item voted on in the next Congress, if the GOP wins again. The measure lost 227-204, 60 votes shy of the needed two-thirds majority.

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Former Tennessee Governor Alexander said he raised a record $5 million for his presidential campaign in the first quarter of 1995 and was on track for his goal of $20 million this year. Senator Specter officially announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination.

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Major league baseball players voted to play ball if a federal judge restores salary arbitration and free-agent bidding. US District Judge Sonia Sotomayor was to hear a National Labor Relations Board petition to end the strike on grounds that the owners illegally changed the terms of the collective bargaining agreement. Analysts said the owners probably would not vote for a lockout -- thus allowing the strike to end.

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The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits dropped by 10,000 last week, reversing three weeks of increases, the Labor Department reported. But the closely watched four-week moving average of new jobless claims, which is a more-accurate reading of the job market, climbed to the highest level since last summer.

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Senator Heflin's decision to retire when his term ends next year will give Alabama its first wide-open Senate race since the Tuscumbia Democrat was elected in 1978.

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Dan Glickman, confirmed by the Senate as agriculture secretary, would take over a department under great pressure to cut billions from its budget right away. Former Secretary Espy resigned last year after charges he received favors from firms doing business with the department.

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The CIA reached a settlement with 300 women who threatened a class-action suit. The deal includes 25 retroactive promotions, $990,000 in back pay, and other measures to enhance the women's careers. The case began with one woman's complaint in 1992 about discrimination.

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A federal judge in New York ruled unconstitutional the administration's ''Don't Ask, Don't Tell'' policy barring gays from serving openly in the military.

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One in 10 Americans drinks from a water system that violates at least some public-health standards, EPA administrator Carol Browner said. She blamed increasing population, old systems, and economic pressures on small suppliers.

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Americans move clocks ahead one hour to begin daylight savings at 2 a.m. on Sunday. Standard time returns Oct. 31. The time will not change in Arizona, Hawaii, most of Indiana, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.

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The FCC took a bite out of long-distance phone bills, promising to save customers $1 billion this year alone. The agency ordered a reduction in payments long-distance carriers make to local phone companies. These ''access charges'' amount to up to $22 billion a year.

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Nine Army instructors will be disciplined after the failure to follow safety procedures led to the deaths of four soldiers in February during Ranger training in a swamp. The decision followed a six-week investigation.

ETCETERA

I just can't be an accessory to the dumbing down of democracy.''

-- GOP Congressman Hyde on term limits

Paintings by Renoir, Van Gogh, and Degas are just some of the treasures in a show of Russian ''trophy art'' that opened yesterday in St. Petersburg's Hermitage museum. The 74 Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings, hidden for decades, were taken from Germany in World War II.

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The US Interior Department is expected to lift its two-year ban on the importation of giant pandas from China. The announcement was to come from the National Zoo in Washington. The zoo is home to the only panda in captivity in the US.

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Thirty years after leading the US peace movement during the Vietnam War, San Francisco is joining Ho Chi Minh City in symbolic sisterhood. The agreement, which San Francisco has been pursuing since the Clinton administration ended a 19-year trade embargo last year, is the first since the war.

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There's a new color that won't melt in your hand: blue. The color won in a ballot contest held by the makers of M&Ms. The unveiling of the confection took place on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building.

World's Largest Banks

(Ranking based on 1993 assets in billions of dollars)

RANKING

Japan

Fuji Bank Ltd., $509 1

Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank Ltd., $508 2

Sumitomo Bank Ltd., $499 3

Sakura Bank Ltd., $498 4

Sanwa Bank Ltd., $495 5

Mitsubishi Bank Ltd., $460 6

Norinchukin Bank, $431 7

Industrial Bank of Japan Ltd., $388 8

Mitsubishi Trust & Banking Corp., $344 9

France

Credit Lyonnais $338 10

US

Citicorp, $215 29

BankAmerica Corp., $186 32

Chemical Banking Corp., $149 42

American Banker, New York

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