News In Brief

By , Abraham McLaughlin, and Peter Nordahl

The US

The blame for Waco ''points directly at David Koresh,'' Attorney General Reno said yesterday in the final session of congressional hearings on Waco. Republicans have criticized Reno, saying she should have waited longer before authorizing the 1993 raid in which 81 Davidians were killed. She says Koresh wouldn't have surrendered. Republicans also charge that President Clinton pressured Reno to act. She says she made the decision, then informed Clinton. (Story, Page 3.)

CBS was reportedly considering a $5-billion buyout offer from Westinghouse Electric Corp. The purchase of the third-place network would follow Disney's $19-billion ABC buyout on Monday. Neither CBS nor Westinghouse confirmed that talks were taking place. (Story, Page 13; Top 10 Mergers, this page.)

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The House was to vote on dropping the arms embargo on Bosnia as early as yesterday. The measure appears to have strong support. Clinton made a last-ditch pitch to House leaders against the bill. It passed the Senate July 26.

Senator Boxer said she would move as early as Tuesday to force a Senate vote on public hearings for Senator Packwood. On Monday, the Ethics Committee voted to block public hearings on sexual misconduct charges against Packwood.

Lane Kirkland left the AFL-CIO yesterday after a 16-year tenure. Critics charge he was a weak spokesman. Thomas Donahue, Kirkland's longtime aide will succeed him until a hotly contested October election. John Sweeney, who heads the opposition to current labor leadership, is campaigning on promises to reenergize the flagging union.

Bernard Nussbaum was expected to defend yesterday his role in the White House's response to Vincent Foster's suicide. The former White House counsel denies Republican accusations that he blocked access to Foster's office on Hillary Rodham Clinton's orders. Foster was working on Whitewater at the time of his death. A separate investigation found that then-Governor Bill Clinton may have awarded state contracts to his Whitewater business partner in exchange for campaign contributions. Also, the FDIC said yesterday that Mrs. Clinton's Little Rock, Ark., Rose law firm failed to disclose conflicts of interest while doing government-paid work on savings and loans.

Philip Morris deliberately increased nicotine levels in some cigarette brands, Congressman Waxman said Monday on the House floor. The company denies the claim. Waxman is urging the government to regulate cigarettes as drug-delivery vehicles. Clinton is weighing a deal to require cigarette companies to spend $100 million combating teenage smoking in exchange for avoiding FDA regulation.

76 percent of Americans still support the 1945 atomic bombings of Japan, a CBS /New York Times poll found. (Story, Page 10; Editorial, Page 20.)

The House voted to block EPA enforcement of anti-pollution laws Monday. The 210-to-210 tie reversed an earlier vote that would have funded the EPA regulation. The measure was part of a $79.4-billion environmental, housing, space, and veterans' bill passed by the House Monday.

The Senate voted to block $10 million for the UN until diplomats in New York pay $9 million in parking tickets, restaurant bills, and other fines.

A bill requiring that residents be notified when a sex offender moves into the community will be introduced by Congressman Zimmer. Last week, the New Jersey Supreme Court upheld a similar so-called ''Megan's Law.''

As hurricane Erin headed toward south Florida with 80-m.p.h. winds, emergency officials urged citizens evacuate their homes. Erin was to reach the coast late last night.

The World

Croats halted their advance against rebel Serbs yesterday, and the two sides agreed to meet in Geneva tomorrow for talks aimed at preventing a renewal of Croatia's 1991 civil war. The announcement followed the Croatian Army's capture of hundreds of square miles of Serb-held land in Bosnia. Meanwhile, Croatian and Bosnian Croat forces shelled the outskirts of the self-declared Serb capital Knin. Also, NATO ambassadors met yesterday in Brussels to discuss protecting Bihac with airstrikes. (Story, Page 6.)

Russia will begin withdrawing its troops from Chechnya within 10 days, a top Russian military commander said yesterday. The killing of at least nine Russian soldiers since the July 30 peace agreement will not deter the pullout, Russian officials said. Meanwhile, the ITAR-Tass news agency said that President Yeltsin will continue recuperation at a sanatarium until the week's end.

The US and China agreed yesterday to hold two sets of high-level talks in September. During a meeting in Brunei with Secretary of State Christopher, Chinese Foreign Minister Quan Qichen asked that Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui be denied US visas. Christopher did not comply with the request. Among issues not discussed: Chinese human rights, nuclear proliferation, jailed American rights advocate Harry Wu, and a Clinton-Jiang summit in September.

Israeli troops continued to evacuate defiant Jewish settlers in the West Bank yesterday. Police said they arrested 213 settlers and evacuated 600 Monday on Dagan Hill, but more settlers set up encampments on three new hills. The settlers vowed to continue their protests until Israeli negotiations with the PLO are stopped. (Story, Page 5.)

Colombian Defense Minister Fernando Botero Zea Monday denied accusations made by the treasurer of President Samper's election campaign that Samper ordered him to accept donations from drug traffickers. Nor did he hold a secret bank account in New York where Cali drug cartel donations were deposited, Botero told a news conference Monday. (Story, Page 9.)

The French Parliament passed constitutional revisions Monday that reduce lawmakers' immunity to prosecution and grant the president greater power to resort to referendums on major reforms. They were the most significant constitutional changes since 1962, when universal suffrage in presidential elections was established.

In the Czech Republic, five former top Communists have been charged with treason in the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. Former party leader Milos Jakes said Monday that he is one of those charged.

The World Bank group's main lending arm netted $1.35 billion in the year ending June 30 - $300 million more than the year before - all of which is being plowed back into new loans, it was announced in Washington.

France will withdraw its ambassador to Australia and protest Australia's ''discriminatory'' measures, the French Foreign Ministry said yesterday. The row is rooted in Australia's decision announced yesterday to rule out the French company Dassault's bid for a $740-million jet fighter project. It is Australia's strongest protest yet against France's decision to resume French nuclear weapons testing in the South Pacific. Meanwhile, New Zealand's leading trade body launched a campaign to boycott French goods yesterday.

A court in Bangladesh ruled yesterday that Taslima Nasrin, the feminist author whose writings drew condemnation and death threats from Muslim fundamentalists, can be tried on a charge of insulting Islam.

Etcetera

Art dealers are reportedly buying pre-Columbian relics from looted archaeological sites in Mexico and Central America. And the illicit trade may have touched Sotheby's - one of the most reputable art auction houses, the New York Times said Monday. ''We're fighting a battle of incredible proportions,'' said Richard Hansen, an archaeologist who's trying to protect the artifacts.

A survey of the highest-paid board members in Britain found rockers Phil Collins, Elton John, and Eric Clapton among the top 20 boardroom ''fat cats.'' All get over $20 million per year.

Taxis may be getting a bit smaller in New York City. The city is test-driving a new model - the Chevy Lumina - which is 25 percent smaller than the Chevy Caprice that's been used for years as the standard yellow cab. The Lumina is also about $4,000 cheaper.

Top 10 Business Mergers in History

The $19-billion acquisition of Capital Cities-ABC Inc. by the Walt Disney Co. announced Monday will rank second if completed.

1. RJR Nabisco Inc., merged with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., 1988, $25 billion

2. Wellcome PLC, acquired by Glaxo PLC, 1995, $15 billion

3. Warner Communications Inc., merged with Time Inc, 1990, $14.1 billion

4. Kraft Inc., merged with Philip Morris Inc., 1988, $13.44 billion

5. Gulf Corp., merged with Standard Oil Co. of California, 1984, $13.4 billion

6. Squibb Corp., merged with Bristol-Myers Co., 1989, $12.09 billion

7. Getty Oil Co., merged with Texaco Inc., 1984, $10.12 billion

8. Martin Marietta Corp., merged with Lockheed Corp., 1995, 410 billion

9. Paramount Communications Inc., acquired by Viacom Inc., 1994, $9.8 billion

10. SmithKline Beckman Corp., merged with Beecham Group PLC, 1989, $7.92 billion

- Associated Press

'' The fate of the Branch Davidians was in David Koresh's hands,

and he chose death for the men and women who had entrusted their lives to him.''

- Attorney General Janet Reno in testimony prepared for yesterday's congressional hearings

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