News In Brief

By , in, and Peter Nordahl.

THE US

As the partial government shutdown hit the two-week mark, President Clinton was set to join the budget talks today. Senator Dole, who will likely join Clinton, said there's a "50-50 shot" at resolution. Lower-level aides have been niggling over details, but "there were no substantive discussions. It was procedural," said Speaker Gingrich's spokesman. Meanwhile, some moderate Republicans and Democrats have a compromise plan that would shrink the $245 billion GOP tax cut by half while making bigger cuts in Medicare than most Democrats want.

At Mideast peace talks: "Everything is on the agenda," an Israeli diplomat said of his country's discussions with Syria in a 26-room Georgian mansion in Maryland. The US is participating in the sessions as the two nations explore the kind of peace Israel could get if it gives up the strategic Golan Heights. After today, talks will run Jan. 3-5. Then Secretary of State Christopher will take over with Damascus-Jerusalem shuttle trips.

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Southern Californians may get a traffic reprieve - but only if they're willing to pay up to $2.50 for a 10-mile ride. The nation's first automated, privately built toll road opened in Anaheim. The four-lane, $126 million project runs beside to the notoriously jammed Riverside freeway. To pay, customers don't stop their cars but put a tiny transponder on their dash. It signals an overhead receiver as they enter, which debits their account. Organizers hope the idea will catch on and help relieve crowded highways - and make profits - elsewhere.

President Clinton was set to veto the $275 billion defense-spending bill. He is concerned the bill would effectively abrogate nuclear arms-reduction treaties by funding an antimissile defense system that is part of the GOP Contract With America. The bill is $7 billion more than Clinton asked for and includes planes and ships he doesn't want.

Putting American radar installations in Sarajevo doesn't constitute Somalia-like "mission creep" in the US effort in Bosnia, top Pentagon officials insisted. The move was requested by NATO. The Pentagon says radar units from other countries will replace US hardware in 30 days.

Consumer confidence is slipping, despite a record financial year. The index of a widely followed Conference Board survey of 5,000 households dropped from 101.6 in November to 98.7 in December. Sales of previously owned homes slipped, too. But on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at new highs 69 times so far this year, the most since 1964. Investors flooded mutual funds, which now hold a record $2.64 trillion. And there were a record 8,773 mergers or acquisitions worth $466.34 billion.

The US deported a record 51,000 illegal aliens in 1995 - the largest number on record, the INS said. The increase came from better border patrols and more expulsions of criminal illegal aliens after they ended jail terms. Two-thirds of the 1995 deportations were inmates. The biggest deportation efforts were in Illinois, Texas, Florida, California, and New York.

Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., will get a surprise $3 million gift from Olive Swindells. Neighbors knew her as a quiet woman who lived modestly in a cluttered, run-down Baltimore house. She built up a $4.4 million fortune through shrewd investments. The gift is the largest from an individual the renowned school for the deaf has received. There was no explanation in Swindells's will, though her husband was deaf.

The 2,400 US troops in Haiti won't extend their stay, the State Department said, dismissing speculation that the soldiers would remain past their Feb. 29 pullout date. That same deadline applies to all 6,000 troops serving in Haiti under the UN.

Cable pioneer Ted Turner launches CNNfn today. The financial news channel will try to broaden the small market now dominated by CNBC by targeting more general viewers - specifically the educated and affluent, not just avid market watchers. CNNfn is starting with a modest 5.5 million subscribers; CNBC has 56 million. The moves comes as other firms are starting up networks to rival Turner's CNN.

THE WORLD

Bosnian Muslim and Serb forces met the first deadline of the Bosnian peace accord, withdrawing from selected front-line positions in Sarajevo. French troops replaced them. "We are very satisfied with the compliance in the past seven days," Gen. George Joulwan, supreme NATO commander, said in Belgrade. The severe Balkan winters may make peacekeeping difficult.

Pacific countries led a chorus of international outrage as France exploded its fifth, and possibly penultimate, South Pacific nuclear test. The 16-nation South Pacific Forum, which suspended diplomatic ties with France over the tests last October, said Paris was showing total disregard for the countries of the region. The US expressed disappointment over the tests.

Judges rejected Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng's appeal of his 14-year sentence on sedition charges. They did not elaborate on the ruling. Wei has spent all but seven months of the last 16-1/2 years in prison. Meanwhile, China praised its human rights record and stressed the benefits of stability and economic development over personal liberties.

Italy will take over the EU presidency Sunday, as Spain ends its six-month stint, which many say was successful. During Spain's leadership the EU approved a blueprint for a new currency - the Euro; it signed trade pacts with Latin American countries; and it reached an agreement for free trade with Mediterranean countries by 2010.

Israel reportedly requested $12 billion in US aid to cover costs such as security and relocation of Israeli settlers, which may be needed in the event of a peace deal with Syria. And, if Israel agrees to withdraw from southern Lebanon as part of a deal, a Hizbullah leader says that would remove Hizbullah's rationale for its attacks on Israel.

A Japanese court postponed a final hearing in the trial of three US servicemen accused of raping a schoolgirl. This after one defendant asked for the trial to be moved from Okinawa. The plea said judges in Okinawa were under pressure to punish the accused. A change in a trial's location is extremely rare in Japan

South Korea barred 39 people suspected of involvement in a $654 million slush fund scandal from leaving the country. Meanwhile, officials from South Korea, the US, and Japan will meet Jan. 24 in Hawaii to discuss aid to North Korea, which is facing acute food shortages with some 500,00 people facing famine.

The world's population grew by 100 million people in 1995, for a total of 5.75 billion - the largest increase ever - the Washington-based Population Institute said. Comparing rich and poor nations, the report said Iowa will take 100 years to double its population of less than 3 million. But Bangladesh will double its 128 million people in under 30 years.

Moscow envisions warmer, rather than cooler, relations with Iran, Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Davydov said in Tehran. Davydov reiterated Russia's commitment to assist Iran in the development of nuclear power and also to collaborate militarily.

Navin Ramgoolam replaced Sir Anerood Jugnauth as prime minister of Mauritius, after his opposition coalition swept all 60 Parliament seats. In 1982, Jugnauth came to power with a 60-0 defeat of Ramgoolam's father, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam. Mauritius, a 788 square-mile island, is an ethnic melting pot of Hindus of Indian ancestry, Creoles, Africans, Europeans, and Arabs. With an annual GDP growth of up to 8.5 percent in the early 90s, Mauritius is considered a rare African economic success.

ETCETERA

We talked to him, and he promised he wouldn't do it again."

- US spokesman Capt. Kevin McAllister after a Croatian soldier fired a salvo of automatic gunfire outside a US military camp. Officials said he was celebrating the holiday season.

A Cranston, R.I., high school teacher is sending students home with life-size, computerized dolls to help teens understand the demands of parenting. The dolls cry as if they're hungry or when handled roughly. A light flashes if they are neglected or abused, and students are graded accordingly. The amount of care required has surprised students.

The best-selling postage stamp of 1995 features Marilyn Monroe. The post office sold 46.3 million stamps. But that's a long way from the record held by the 1993 Elvis Presley stamp, which sold 124 million.

Marek Kaminski of Poland this week became the first person to trek alone to both the North and South Poles in the same year. Norwegian Borge Ousland was first to reach both poles without assistance, but he did it in different years.

Top Sports Stories of '95

As chosen by Associated Press newspaper editors and broadcast news directors in the US.

1. Cal Ripkin breaks record of 2,130 consecutive games.

2. Death of Mickey Mantle.

3. Michael Jordan returns to pro basketball.

4. Northwestern's sudden football success and Rose Bowl bid.

5. NFL franchise moves, including Cleveland Browns announcing Baltimore relocation.

6. Baseball strike ends.

7. San Francisco's fifth Super Bowl championship.

8. Cleveland Indians' season.

9. Greg Maddux's fourth straight Cy Young award.

10. Monica Seles returns to tennis.

- Associated Press

The Christian Science Monitor will not be published New Year's Day, Monday, Jan. 1, 1996, a legal holiday in the United States.

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