News In Brief

The US

Washington budgeteers plan to swap fresh offers today with hopes of averting a new federal shutdown. If serious bargaining is under way, Congress likely will send Clinton a stopgap bill financing federal agencies. Some say a deal could be struck by Christmas. Bargaining was expected through the weekend. And a New York Times/CBS poll shows a 51 percent approval rating for Clinton - the highest since February 1994; House Republicans' popularity dropped.

Congress grudgingly accepted President Clinton's plan to deploy 20,000 US troops to Bosnia. The key Senate resolution, approved 69 to 30, noted the mission should last no longer than about a year and the US must help rearm the Bosnian government. But the House-passed measure stated the US must remain strictly neutral.

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''This is not CNN in a copy. Its a whole new concept,'' said NBC News President Andy Lack, announcing a joint NBC-Microsoft cable news service called ''msNBC.'' It will be distributed initially to 15 million US homes through NBC's America's Talking'' cable network, which Microsoft will buy a 50-percent stake in for $220 million. The $400 million joint venture will include an interactive on-line component and will debut in 1996.

California Rep. Walter Tucker III announced that his wife will run for the US House seat he has resigned (above). Tucker was convicted last week of extorting $30,000 in bribes and cheating on his taxes while mayor of Compton in 1991 and 1992. He accused the jury of being racist.

Boeing Company workers are back on the job after voting to end a 69-day strike. The machinists' union won gains on job security, medical coverage, and pay. The company says the contract will not affect plans to subcontract for 52 percent of the components of Boeing planes (excluding engines), compared with 48 percent now.

The Senate Whitewater Committee received a last-minute proposal from the White House to turn over the notes from a 1993 meeting and let Senators question four presidential aides who attended the meeting. The committee immediately recessed to discuss the offer, though Chairman D'Amato gave it a cool reception. The Senate committee has considered asking the full Senate to enforce a subpoena to obtain the notes.

The FBI raided the California home of a railroad contractor, who was taken away for questioning in connection with the October sabotaging of an Amtrak passenger train in Arizona. Agents removed bags from the house: A warrant had sought large tools and documents linked to train derailments.

New Judge Richard Matsch, in his first hearing in the Oklahoma City bombing case, urged lawyers to streamline the pretrial process. Codefendants Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols sat 10 feet apart and ignored each other during the hearing.

Former Los Angeles police Sergeant Stacey Koon yesterday completed a two-year sentence for his role in the beating of Rodney King. A former colleague, Laurence Powell, ended his sentence the day before. Both were convicted of depriving King of his civil rights.

Navy Capt. Fred Dew, accused in Hawaii of sexual harassment, blamed the allegations on disgruntled employees bent on carrying out a vendetta against him. Last week, a senior admiral in Europe retired early after being demoted and censured for sexually harassing a subordinate with whom he had a year-long affair.

Communities should connect their schools to the Internet by 2000, a presidential panel recommended. It would cost about $11 billion to connect all public schools, the US Advisory Council on the National Information Infrastructure said.

The banking industry set another record. Banks showed $13.8 billion in earnings in the three months ending Sept. 30. And Japan's Sumitomo Bank Ltd. requested permission from US regulators to buy Daiwa Bank Ltd. after the banks agreed on the sale. If approved, the purchase would resolve a Federal Reserve order that Daiwa shut its US business after covering up $1.1 billion in trading losses.

The World

The signing of the Balkan peace accord has raised hope that Bosnia could spend its first peaceful Christmas since 1991, analysts said. US President Clinton and French President Chirac applauded the Balkan Presidents - Alija Izetbegovic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia, and Franjo Tudjman of Croatia - for signing the treaty to end Europe's most devastating conflict since World War II. The signing paves the way for the deployment of a 60,000-strong NATO peacekeeping force in Bosnia. (Story, Page 1.)

French train drivers in six towns ended their strike, but workers in 84 main transportation centers continued their stoppage. Analysts said that union resolve in the three-week-old strike may be weakening. In the past few days, the government made many concessions on plans to restructure the indebted state railways and the welfare system.

Russian helicopter gunships fired rockets into the center of Chechnya's second-largest city. Many people were killed, witnesses said. Meanwhile, Chechen rebels seized a hospital in Grozny as voting began ahead of schedule in national and local elections. The rest of Russia will vote Sunday, and polls showed an increasing voter interest, with the Communist Party tipped to win. (Story, Page 7; Opinion, Page 19; Editorial, Page 20)

A Colombian congressional committee cleared President Ernesto Samper of charges that he authorized the receipt of millions of dollars from the Cali drug cartel to fund his 1994 election win. The vote effectively removed the threat of impeachment Samper is facing, sources said. Opposition politicians called the ruling a whitewash.

Australia will sign a security pact with Indonesia, Prime Minister Paul Keating announced. The accord, to be signed Monday in Jakarta, Indonesia, indicates a major turnaround in relations between the two countries. The treaty commits them to talks about common security interests but does not necessarily commit either nation to come to the defense of the other.

China called US criticism of the 14-year prison sentence given to dissident Wei Jingsheng unwarranted. The statement focused on the US and did not mention any other country, although Germany and Britain have also condemned the sentencing.

The signs for a revival of Syrian-Israeli talks are positive, sources said. Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres was reportedly surprised when the official Syrian newspaper called his statements about Syria's important role in the Middle East ''political pragmatism.'' Elsewhere, a Muslim militant was killed after he stabbed and wounded two elderly Jewish settlers in Hebron.

''Please don't take my husband away from his family,'' Yolanda Gill pleaded to the Japanese court. She is the wife of one of the three US servicemen charged in the rape of an Okinawan schoolgirl. Mrs. Gill says she is trying to raise $5,000 to compensate the victim's family - a move defense attorneys have said could lighten Gill's sentence.

Racial tensions exploded as about 100 bat-wielding youths smashed windows and looted stores in Brixton, a predominately black London neighborhood. Protesters decried the Dec. 5 death of a black man in police custody. Police say the man just collapsed.

Chung Tae-soo, chairman of South Korea's Hanbo Group, was released on medical parole as he awaited trial next week with former President Roh Tae Woo on bribery charges. Chung, has been charged with offering bribes to Roh and also help him launder part of a $654 million slush fund.

Etcetera

When Wayne Bass and his hamster Sweep (above) tried to ride a bus near London, the driver made Wayne pay a fare for his critter. Embarrassed bus company officials have apologized and given Sweep a lifetime pass.

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1996 will be delayed briefly. US clocks will add a ''leap second'' at the end of 1995, the National Institute of Standards and Technology says. Leap seconds are added periodically to keep the clocks in tune with Earth.

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A young Peruvian porker at a zoo in Sheffield, England, made a pig of himself recently when he devoured a party buffet meal fed to him by a keeper who thought the box was full of scraps. There was still other food for the party guests. And the stuffed pig snoozed contentedly.

Booklovers' Paradises

If you enjoy perusing bookstore shelves, be sure to visit these towns: They have the most bookstores per 10,000 homes.

Stores per City Number 10,000 (by rank) of stores homes

5.25 Santa Fe, N.M. 25

4.18 Bloomington, Ind. 17

3.62 Bellingham, Wash. 19

3.32 Bryan-College 15 Station, Texas.

2.96 Burlington, Vt. 17

2.94 Bangor, Maine 10

2.8 Lawrence, Kan. 9

2.77 Charlottesville, Va. 14

2.7 Dover, Del. 11

2.6 Eugene- 30 Springfield, Ore.

2.54 San Francisco 167

2.44 Madison, Wis. 36

- By permission of ''Bookselling This Week,'' a publication of the American Booksellers Association

'' My government is taking part in this agreement without any

enthusiasm but as someone taking a bitter yet useful potion.''

- Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, at the Balkan peace agreement signing ceremony in Paris.

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