News In Brief

THE US

Republicans and White House officials met yesterday to discuss the latest GOP budget offer. But White House aide George Stephanopoulos called the latest proposal unacceptable. The plan gave some additional wiggle room for President Clinton: The budget would be refereed by the Congressional Budget Office after "thorough consultation and review" by the White House and other experts. And House GOP leaders were overwhelmingly defeated Saturday in an effort to adjourn until Monday. But angry Republicans decided to recess anyway, which the majority can do unilaterally. The House did approve 416 to 0 a bill returning 85,000 workers who process Medicare, Social Security, and veterans' claims.

Bosnia peace talks appeared waylaid yesterday by Muslim demands for arms and equipment. But Croatian President Franjo Tudjman reportedly left Zagreb for the US, where he said an agreement on ending the war in former Yugoslavia was expected to be initialed Monday. But US State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said the talks are "balanced on a knife's edge." The US is insisting the signers of a deal cooperate with the international war-crimes tribunal, he added. Bosnian Foreign Minister Mohamed Sacirbey, Bosnia's best-known spokesman in the West, quit his post Saturday. He said he needed to make room for a Bosnian Croat in a top position of the newly consolidated Bosnian Muslim and Croat Federation but would stay on to see the talks through. Also, the House voted Friday to prohibit Clinton from sending troops to Bosnia unless Congress approves such a plan and authorizes money for it.

GOP front-runner Dole took the lead with 33 percent in a Florida Republican presidential straw poll Saturday as supporters cheered him on. Texas Senator Gramm (26 percent) and former Tennessee governor Lamar Alexander (23 percent) also claimed victories with strong showings. The poll is viewed as the last barometer of candidate strength heading into February primaries.

Republican Mike Foster seized the Louisiana governor seat Saturday with 66 percent of the vote. He defeated US Rep. Cleo Fields, who had hoped to become the state's first black elected to the office.

Space shuttle Atlantis is expected to touch down today after a highly successful outing. The crew left behind a new docking port on the Russian space station "Mir." NASA plans to have a US astronaut dropped off there for a five-month stay March.

The estranged husband of Rep. Enid Waldholtz turned himself in Friday for questioning in what the FBI alleges is a $1.7 million check-kiting scheme. At news of the surrender, Mrs. Waldholtz accused him of fraud and deception.

Brown and Williamson Tobacco threatened to sue CBS Friday over the New York Daily News' publication of a "60 Minutes" interview with B&W executive Jeffrey Wigand. The company accused CBS of leaking it. Ironically, "60 Minutes" spiked the interview to avoid a lawsuit.

The 55-m.p.h. speed limit may soon fade into the distance. Clinton is set to sign a bill this week to abolish federal speed limits and provide $6.5 billion in highway construction funds.

The FCC is set to give final approval in Westinghouse's $5.4 billion bid for CBS: After contentious debate, FCC commissioners decided not to require Westinghouse to abide by CBS's voluntary September agreement to air more educational shows.

Organizers of the Million Man March outlined their new nine-point agenda for social change Saturday. It includes creation of an economic development trust, a national health plan, and abolition of the death penalty.

The Detroit Sunday Journal, produced by striking workers at the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press, debuted this weekend with local and state news, classified ads, and a crossword puzzle. The News and Free Press have published an edition with employees who have crossed picket lines. The Journal's press run was expected to be 300,000, making it the state's second-largest Sunday paper.

THE WORLD

A suicide bomb attack yesterday on the Egyptian Embassy, in Islamabad, Pakistan, killed 15 people and wounded 59 others. Egypt's largest Muslim militant group, al-Gama'a al-Islamiya, claimed responsibility. In recent months, Egypt and Pakistan have been cooperating to locate Egyptian militants believed by Cairo to be living either in Pakistan or neighboring Afghanistan.

At the APEC trade summit, China's President Jiang said yesterday that China will slash its overall tariffs by 30 percent starting next year. It is China's biggest trade liberalization package in 16 years. Also, the 19 leaders at the Asia-Pacific trade summit in Osaka, Japan, rejected a plan to form a security alliance.

About 300 people went on a daylong hunger strike in Okinawa yesterday to protest the presence of US military bases. The US commander of forces in the Pacific, Richard C. Macke, exacerbated the tensions Friday by saying the US servicemen who allegedly raped a schoolgirl should have paid for sex instead of committing rape. Mackewas forced to resign.

Rebel forces in Russia's Chechnya region said yesterday a decision by the Moscow-backed Parliament to hold elections Dec. 17 could ignite civil war and urged people not to vote. The rebels have vowed to disrupt the elections and rebel leader Dzhokhar Dudayev, in a rare interview, said an escalation to widespread fighting is inevitable.

Opposition leader Sheikh Abdullah Jaballah yesterday urged Algeria's President Liamine Zeroual to capitalize on his election victory and launch a dialogue with the Muslim opposition to end civil strife. Zeroual won 61 percent of the vote as 75 percent of Algeria's 16 million voters cast ballots despite militant threats.

Sri Lankan troops captured the northern part of the rebel Tamil stronghold of Jaffna yesterday. They were 800 yards from the town center. Meanwhile, in eastern Batticaloa, Tamil guerrillas ambushed a Sri Lankan Army patrol killing 39 solders.

Former US President Jimmy Carter began a peace mission to Rwanda yesterday with a visit to a genocide site. Up to a million Tutsis and Hutu moderates were killed last year. Carter is seeking to find ways of arranging the return of 2 million refugees and ending ethnic violence in neighboring Burundi.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Bolger yesterday asked US Vice President Al Gore to consider implementing sanctions against the military regime in Nigeria. Meanwhile, ANC Secretary General Cyril Ramaphosa said South Africa may start a boycott of Shell, which handles half of Nigeria's crude oil.

Lech Walesa's presidency hung in the balance as Poles voted yesterday in the second presidential election since Communist rule ended six years ago. In a preliminary election two weeks ago, challenger Aleksander Kwasniewski edged ahead of Walesa. Separately, in Georgia, a second round of legislative elections was held yesterday in a vote that will decide the final makeup of the country's new 235-seat parliament.

Hundreds cheered as PLO Chairman Arafat arrived triumphantly in the West Bank town of Jenin via helicopter yesterday. Jenin is the first of seven West Bank towns to be handed over by Israel to the Palestinian Authority. "Together we shall build an independent Palestinian state," Arafat said.

EU foreign ministers were set to meet today in Brussels and were expected to approve a three-year, $5 billion reconstruction package for Bosnia and Croatia. The ministers irked France by voting Friday for an immediate halt to France's nuclear tests.

ETCETERAS

As far as I'm concerned, we ought to fire both of them - the

president and Congress. They're playing a kids' game."

- Wayne Robie, who helps his parents run a country store decked with presidents' photos in Hooksett, N.H.

Miss Venezuela, Jacqueline Marcano, was crowned Miss World on Saturday. But Miss Nigeria, Toyin Rani, nearly stole the show by dropping out of the contest to protest Nigeria's killing of eight activists on Nov. 10.

A new Chinese government plan would have 60 percent of its accountants using computers by 2000. Today, about 90 percent use the 1,300-year-old abacus.

Best Bet Kid Vids

Here are the top children's videos as picked by parents, children, teachers, librarians, and others.

Which Way Weather? Children respond to different kinds of weather; they splash in puddles, blow bubbles in breezes. ($19.95, 15 mos. to 3 yrs.)

Sweet Dreams, Spot. Spot, the famous dog, shows the perfect bedtime - full of crisp sheets, cozy stories, warm hugs. ($12.99, 15 mos. to 4 yrs.)

Musician Max and Other Musical Stories. Four children's books animated by the legendary Weston Woods group. ($14.95, 2 and up.)

Hullaballoo: Time! Bold colors, attractive puppets, good design help children learn to tell time the old-fashioned way, not digitally. ($9.95, 3 to 6.)

Crunch! Smash! Trash! Monster Machines That Recycle. Trucks move to great music (Beethoven, Vivaldi, Handel). ($16.95, 3 to 8.)

My First Party Video. Kids learn how to give a successful party. ($12.98, ages 5 to 9.)

A Little Princess. A well-acted and well-produced riches-to-rags tale. ($24.99, 6 and up.)

Little Women. A strong portrayal of one of the most loved children's literature stories. ($19.95, 10 and up.)

- Parent's Choice (Waban, Mass.)

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