News In Brief

By , Shelley Donald coolidge, and Peter Nordahl

THE US

Black men from all over the country have converged on the nation's capital for today's "Million Man March," organized by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. The purpose is to unify the black community. Organizers hope it will be the largest ever. The president of the Coalition of 100 Black Women denounced Farrakhan and Benjamin Chavis, heads of the march, for excluding women. Jewel Jackson McCabe said black women are "under siege too." She added that black men generally are having more success than black women.

A small explosion Friday that blew out part of an unmanned weather station serving La Guardia Airport in New York caused no flight problems but did raise concerns. A note at the site included a swastika and referred to the FBI siege in Waco, Texas. The FBI did not know if the attack was vandalism or terrorism.

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The FBI is asking for the public's help in locating a mystery witness in the train derailment in Arizona. The possible witness is described only as a person of unknown gender wearing a cowboy hat. An FBI official said both a passenger and an Amtrak employee reported seeing the person about 10 to 15 minutes after the train derailed Oct. 9. The FBI also is looking for information about the Sons of Gestapo, the name left on several copies of a letter found at the scene.

CIA spies eavesdropped on conversations between Japan's auto executives and trade minister during the Clinton administration's sensitive negotiations over Japanese luxury-car imports, The New York Times reported yesterday. The spies gave US trade representative Mickey Kantor descriptions about conversations between Japanese bureaucrats and executives from Tokyo and Nissan, including CIA analysis of pressures on Japan's trade minister to negotiate an agreement with the US.

The Republican Medicare plan would trigger a marketing free-for-all among private insurers, HMOs, hospitals, and physicians to snare a larger share of the business of caring for America's elderly. The plan, which the House may approve before the end of the week, may compel Clinton's health secretary to stage a national health fair next October to encourage the elderly to abandon traditional Medicare for private managed-care or medical-savings accounts.

House Republicans unveiled a proposal to abolish the Commerce Department. They said the proposal would save taxpayers $8 billion over the next seven years, eliminating thousands of government jobs. The plan would terminate 40 different agencies and programs.

The social health of the US declined in the first year of President Clinton's administration, even as the economy improved, according to the Index of Social Health. The index, issued by Fordham University's Institute for Innovation, tracks 16 categories of American life. In the 1993 index, the latest available, six categories showed improvement, eight declined, and two remained the same.

The ability of US troops to enforce a Bosnian peace accord will be severely handicapped by winter weather if they do not set up operations there by late November, The Washington Post reported yesterday. Quoting US military documents and officials, the Post said it appeared doubtful that a NATO-led enforcement mission could begin this year.

Southern California firefighters battled two wildfires Saturday that have scorched more than 4,500 acres of remote foothill country. The blazes are 70 miles northeast of San Diego and about 80 miles east of Los Angeles.

Washington State lawmakers approved a financing plan Saturday for a $320 million state-of-the-art ballpark they hope will keep the Seattle Mariners from fleeing to another state. The Mariners have lost an estimated $67 million in the last four years in the Kingdome.

Beginning next year, men and women in California will pay the same price for hair cuts, dry cleaning, and tailoring. Gov. Wilson signed into law last week a measure that does away with different prices for services based on gender.

THE WORLD

Bosnian government forces said yesterday they had halted their offensive in northwest Bosnia, three days after a cease-fire was to begin, while Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic angrily blamed his own generals for battlefield losses. Contradicting the government's report, the Serb side said fighting was continuing, with Muslim forces shelling Serb areas.

Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller's minority government lost a confidence vote yesterday to force the resignation of the country's first woman leader. The 450-member parliament voted 190 to 230 against the government, according to an unofficial count. Turkish workers gathered in Ankara for a mass rally, chanting antigovernment slogans.

Millions of Iraqis voted "yes" for Saddam Hussein as president yesterday in a referendum whose result is a foregone conclusion. Eyewitnesses at Baghdad polling stations said most of the voting was done in full view of election officials. The officers, to help those confused by the unfamiliar process, pointed to the "yes" box. Organizers prepared to celebrate Saddam's victory last night.

Six Israeli soldiers were killed and two others were wounded yesterday in a terrorist attack in south Lebanon. Hezbollah, or Party of God, claimed responsibility. It was the deadliest attack this year by the Iranian-backed organization against Israeli occupation forces in south Lebanon. Meanwhile, PLO leader Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Peres met in Gaza yesterday to try to resolve the dispute over the timing of Israeli Army redeployment in the West Bank.

Russian commandos stormed a tour bus near Red Square early yesterday, killing a Russian gunman who had taken 25 South Korean tourists hostage. The shaken tourists left for Germany to continue their vacation. Police had surrounded the bus for 10 hours while officials negotiated with the gunman, who was not immediately identified.

The future of Willy Claes as NATO secretary-general hung in the balance yesterday after a Belgian parliamentary commission recommended he face court to answer allegations of corruption, fraud, and forgery. Claes reportedly said he would not quit his NATO job before a full session of the Belgian Parliament decides Thursday on the commission's advice. He said he was not sure whether he would go to Parliament to defend his case.

Haiti celebrated the anniversary of its return to democracy yesterday under a shadow of uncertainty about the future. UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali was to be joined by US Vice President Al Gore to mark the event. But President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is planning to leave office, and it appears that presidential elections scheduled for December will be delayed. Furthermore, Prime Minister Smarck Michel is expected to resign tomorrow.

Algeria's most radical armed group threatened terrorist bombings in France. Targets include the Eiffel Tower, the Place de la Concorde, and major department stores in Paris.

A teenage Philippine maid who said she killed her employer because he tried to rape her was saved from a firing squad after the victim's family settled for monetary compensation.

South Korea said it won't make any further gestures of reconciliation toward North Korea unless the North fulfills two promises, The New York Times reported. North Korea had vowed to release five South Korean fishermen and to stop anti-South Korea broadcasts.

The Nobel Peace Prize became a weapon last Friday, targeted against countries that own and test nuclear arms. The award went to British physicist Joseph Rotblat and the antinuclear group he helped found. Rotblat helped build the world's first atomic bomb in the US but later quit the project.

ETCETERa

NATO is going through a difficult transformation process. This cannot be done with a broken-winged chairman.... We cannot afford a 'Willygate' like this."

- Dutch Liberal Party leader Frits Bolkestein, calling on NATO secretary-general Willy Claes to resign.

A French-Egyptian diving team pulled a one-ton sphinx and a statue of the pharaoh Ramses II from the waters off Alexandria, Egypt, Saturday. The team said the statues are the finest recovered after diving in the Mediterranean on the site of the Pharos lighthouse, one of the wonders of the ancient world.

Three Russians, three Italians, and two Americans are among the 15 qualifiers for Stage 3 of the Frederic Chopin Competition for young pianists, the jury announced Saturday in Warsaw.

An astronaut has lost his chance to ride to the Russian space station Mir because he is too tall. Scott Parazynski, who is 6 feet 2, was not to board the station. Russian officials ruled him out on the chance he might have to fill in on Mir in an emergency.

America's Social Well-Being Index for '93

Six categories improved:

1. Infant mortality

2. Teen suicide

3. Unemployment

4. Poverty among those over 65

5. Food-stamp coverage

6. Access to affordable housing

Eight categories declined:

1. Child abuse

2. Children in poverty

3. Drug abuse

4. Health-insurance coverage

5. Average weekly earnings

6. Out-of-pocket health costs for those over 65

7. Homicide

8. Gap between rich and poor

Two categories unchanged:

1. High school dropouts

2. Alcohol-related highway fatalities

- Fordham University's Institute for Innovation in Social Policy/AP

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