News In Brief

THE US

A budget pow-wow between President Clinton, House Speaker Gingrich, and Senate majority leader Dole was expected to occur yesterday. The president is trying to negotiate a temporary spending bill. He's also offering to produce a seven-year balanced budget using Congressional Budget Office figures. But Republicans would need to accept his proposed Medicare and Medicaid spending levels first, the White House said. Clinton was also expected to veto a spending bill that would, among other things, cut his cops-on-the-street program. Earlier, he vetoed two other bills that would have eased the partial shutdown.

Senate investigators are questioning whether billing records detailing Hillary Rodham Clinton's Arkansas legal work may have disappeared. Senate Whitewater Committee Republicans say the 1992 notes of one of Mrs. Clinton's closest friends suggest Mrs. Clinton may have done more work than she has acknowledged as a lawyer for the Madison Guaranty savings and loan, which is at the center of the Whitewater controversy.

The government is clamping down on lobbyists. In the first major change in lobby reform in 48 years, Clinton signed legislation that requires lobbyists to register their clients, disclose the issues they are pushing, and tell how much they are paid.

A little more frugality. That's what Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary has vowed her future travel plans will include. She addressed reporters while in Florida to deliver a commencement address. O'Leary was defending her spending after a Los Angeles Times report detailed millions of dollars she spent on 16 trips abroad. In response to criticism that she flew on a jet chartered by rock stars, O'Leary said it was less expensive than using a government plane and more efficient than a commercial flight.

Seeking to end a GOP squabble holding up the welfare bill, Republican congressional leaders backed away from plans to give states control of the school lunch program and added more money for child care, nutrition, and other assistance. But James Jeffords of Vermont, a key Senate Republican, has still to sign off on the compromise proposal.

The first of more than 2,000 Army National Guard and Reserve soldiers tapped for duty during the Bosnia mission began reporting for duty in Georgia and New Jersey. Only about 200 will actually serve in Bosnia. The rest will fill in for active-duty troops in Germany that are headed to Bosnia.

The Federal Reserve planned to consider a cut in interest rates. A drop in stock and bond prices Monday will likely play a role in the decision, analysts said. Some analysts blamed the 100 point drop on the budget impasse. Blue chip stocks suffered their biggest loss in more than four years.

Legislation sought by President Clinton to fight terrorism is being tabled in the House because of resistance by both liberals and conservatives. Judiciary Committee chairman Henry Hyde, an Illinois Republican, decided not to bring the $2.1 billion package to the House floor this year because he doesn't have the votes for passage, lawmakers said.

The US and Mexico have delayed implementing a NAFTA provision that calls for easing restrictions on Mexican trucks entering the US. The decision comes amid concerns of unsafe emissions and highway safety. The delay is not a setback for the trade agreement, Transportation Secretary Federico Pena said.

Texas Democrat Kika de la Garza is retiring after 30 years in Congress. He's the 30th House member to retire or seek higher office in 1996 - 21 are Democrats, nine are Republicans. Eight Democrats and four Republicans in the Senate also are retiring.

THE WORLD

NATO is expected to formally take over peacekeeping duties from UN troops today. And 16 US military flights landed in Tulza, Bosnia, while seven US Army trains carrying troops and tanks left Hungary. Javier Solana formally took charge as NATO's secretary-general and pledged to expand NATO eastward to include former East European countries. Meanwhile, American diplomat Richard Holbrooke, who helped negotiate the Dayton peace accord on Bosnia, told Congress he will leave his post early next year.

Responding to the Communists' impressive showing in the polls, a top aide to Russian President Yeltsin said it is necessary to correct the course of reforms. With about 70 percent of the ballots counted, the Communist Party had won 22.3 percent of the vote; ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party received 10.9 percent; and the pro-government Our Home is Russia finished with 9.6 percent.

The PLO and Hamas agreed to avoid violence in settling their differences, a Hamas spokesman said. Still undecided - on the second day of talks in Cairo - was Hamas' role in the Jan. 20 Palestinian elections. And the trial of Yitzhak Rabin's self-confessed assassin, Yigal Amir, was put off until Jan. 23 to enable defense lawyers to review evidence.

Aum Shinri Kyo, a group allegedly involved in poison gas attacks in Tokyo subways, had its legal status as a religious group revoked. The Tokyo High Court ruling comes a week after officials raided 11 of the group's properties and froze its assets.

Yemeni fighter planes flew intermittent sorties over a Red Sea island seized by Eritrea, Western diplomats said. Meanwhile, Eritrea accused unnamed "forces" of provoking clashes over control of the Island, and said the International Court of Justice would decide ownership of the islands. The islands are in the middle of busy shipping lanes - slightly closer to Yemen's Arabian Peninsula coast.

South Korea's 24-member Cabinet resigned en masse, setting the stage for a major government reorganization. The move is seen as an effort by President Kim Young Sam to defuse a political crisis touched off by major scandals involving former presidents Roh Tae Woo and Chun Doo Hwan. Separately, the National Assembly passed a law that makes it possible to punish Chun and Roh for their roles in a 1980 massacre of pro-democracy activists.

Mexican prosecutors filed an illegal enrichment charge against Raul Salinas de Gortari, brother of the former president. And former prosecutor Mario Ruiz Massieu - facing extradition from a US jail - was fined $21 million. Prosecutors said they found at least $123 million in Salinas's foreign bank accounts.

Success was still far from assured, a US-led international panel negotiating peace in Northern Ireland said. The commission met more people than Britain did in 16 years, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said after four days of hearings.

Some 19 rebels were killed in fighting between Maoist Shining Path guerrillas and Peruvian soldiers, the Army said. Unconfirmed reports said the rebels killed 11 soldiers. The rebels allegedly provide protection for drug traffickers.

Canada increased the harp seal hunt quota to 250,000, up from 186,000. Animal rights activists called for a boycott of Canadian fish as a protest. Last year about 67,000 seals were harvested of the 186,000 quota.

With less than 70 percent of the electorate abstaining from voting in Haiti's polls, observers called the elections a blow to the country's fledging democracy.

China accused a German reporter of "negatively influencing German public opinion about China" and ordered him to leave the country by Dec. 28.

ETCETERA

If I signed these bills, I would be condemning more than 10 million children under the age of 12 to living near toxic waste sites that might not be cleaned up for years."

- President Clinton, explaining why he was vetoing two appropriations bills.

The hunt for more Dead Sea Scrolls is under way on the West Bank. Nily Gricher, a volunteer, helps lift a bucket of stone from a cave at Qumran, one of four newly discovered man-made caves located near where the first scrolls were found.

You don't have to use the mail to get holiday greetings to US troops in Bosnia. You can do it from a computer. The Pentagon has established an electronic-mail address to "any soldier" in Bosnia. It is part of the Defense Department's BosniaLINK on the World Wide Web. The address? http:// www.dtic.dla.mil/bosnia/ .

Everyone has his idea of the perfect Christmas tree. Scientists at North Carolina State University are working on growing that tree. The Fraser fir, often called the "Cadillac of Christmas trees," is being studied to produce even more beautiful trees.

Beyond Bones: Gifts For Pups on the Up and Up

Seven out of 10 British dogs will receive a present this year, and Harrod's of London is offering a range of doggie delights. Sorry, the diamond-studded collars are sold out.

Christmas T-shirts (one reads "Wreck the Hall and Eat the Holly") $11.28

Dog stockings (include chocolate bones) 14.58

French collars and leashes 18.42

China dog bowls 26.10

Leashes and collars with Harrod's emblem 46.82

Large jewelled dog bowls 61.40

Leather jackets and matching hats 64.47

Diamond-studded collar 11,510

And for that special bird:

Wrought-iron cages with gold trim and stand 3,837

- Harrrod's of London

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