News In Brief

THE US

Tour guides in Florida's swampy everglades are steaming. The area is closed because of the government shutdown. The guides usually make $300 a day at this time of year. Meanwhile, the popular Vermeer exhibit in Washington has found another way around the shutdown: It got funding from the Pittsburgh-based Richard King Mellon Foundation to stay open until Feb. 11. Just paying the 33 guards costs $50,000 a week. But the shutdown hasn't slowed the IRS. Tax forms should arrive in your mailbox this week.

A capital gains tax compromise could pave the way for a budget breakthrough. President Clinton reportedly offered to lower the tax as top-level meetings continued. And a federal judge ruled against two unions, saying the US can require some employees to work without pay lest it "create a crisis." Meanwhile, the Senate-passed plan to re-open the government, "has no chance in the House," says Gingrich's spokesman. Senator Dole had pushed the plan, saying "enough is enough." But House GOP members want any end to the shutdown to be tied to a seven-year balanced budget.

A storm swirling along the East Coast dumped two feet of snow. TWA cancelled 200 flights as St. Louis got snowed, too. And California's Gov. Wilson declared a state of emergency in seven counties still cleaning up from fierce winds last month.

What is the price tag of weaning American minors from cigarettes? Five tobacco firms say the government's plans to regulate them will cost $2 billion and be ineffective. The laws will impact retail and advertising firm profits too, they say. The FDA says its plans, which include a required anti-smoking ad campaign aimed at minors, will cost $39 million to start and $228 million annually. Regulations should be out this year.

A favorite Wall Street economic indicator shows a slowdown may be coming. For the fifth straight month, the National Association of Purchasing Management's manufacturing growth index was below 50 percent, showing a drop in activity at US factories. This month's reading: 47.3.

Controversial Reagan administration Interior Secretary James Watt pleaded guilty to attempting to influence a federal grand jury investigating a 1980s influence-peddling scandal at the Housing Department. In exchange for Watt's guilty plea, the government dropped 18 felony charges against him. Watt will pay a $5,000 fine and could spend up to six months in jail.

Everyone should have unobstructed access to an abortion clinic, a federal appeals court in Milwaukee ruled. The move overturned a lower court's ruling that the 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances law allows for nonviolent physical obstruction of clinic entrances. Protesters say they will appeal.

The crowded field of syndicated talk shows just shrank slightly. "Charles Perez" and "Gabrielle" were cut by their distributors. But the effect on the medium that commentator William Bennett calls "cultural rot" is unclear. "Gabrielle" had promised to avoid the sleaze common to many shows. Prime offenders "Jerry Springer" and "Jenny Jones" are still among the most popular shows.

It's easier to pay for advice than to take it - especially on the environment. So found Cambridge, Mass.-based Arthur D. Little (ADL). The 185 corporate environmental managers interviewed by the firm say they can't convince their companies the environment is a dollars-and-sense issue. But ADL suggests that healthy workers mean less down time and more productivity.

Chrysler's 1996 minivans and Ford's 1997 F-150 got "Car of the Year" honors at Detroit's International Auto Show.

THE WORLD

Bosnian Serbs turned over three people to French NATO soldiers in Ilidza, but sources said they do not appear to be any of the 16 people allegedly detained by Serbs. Some of the detained strayed from "the usual routes" and were charged with "illegal activities," Ilidza's mayor said. Free movement of people is a key provision of the Bosnian peace accord. NATO's inaction in the situation provoked the Bosnian government's first open criticism of the mission.

Palestinian police arrested Bassam Eid, an activist who accused Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority of violating human rights in the West Bank, his colleagues said. And three members of the Muslim militant group Hamas withdrew from the Palestinian elections. Observers say they were under pressure from Hamas, which is boycotting the elections. And the Syria-Israel peace talks resumed in Maryland.

For the first time in nine years, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak named a new prime minister. Outgoing Atef Sedki was replaced by his deputy Kamal Ganzouri. The move came as a surprise: Mubarak ruled out any major changes last month.

Won Kwang-ho, a South Korean legislator, quit his party after President Kim Young Sam sent him $6,400 as a Christmas gift. Won said the money was from questionable sources and accused Kim of lying in his promise to promote clean politics. Kim's party confirmed that each of its 270 lawmakers was given up to $6,400 in cash as a Christmas gift from legitimate party funds.

Afghanistan blamed Taliban militiamen for a midday rocket assault at a congested Kabul residential suburb. Witnesses said 20 people were killed and 48 wounded. Much of Kabul has been destroyed since 1992, when insurgents ousted the ruling Communists and installed an Islamic regime. Since then, the 10 main Islamic factions have been fighting for control of the capital.

Luxembourg, with a per capita GNP of $39,850, is the world's richest country, the World Bank said. But economists said the methodology used in the report was flawed. More than a quarter of Luxembourg's work force live in neighboring Belgium, France, or Germany, they said. Other findings: Switzerland was second with $37,180; the US was sixth with $25,860; and Mozambique was last with $80.

African peacekeepers clashed with Liberian guerrillas, ending a day-old truce. Peacekeepers of a 7,000-member force from Nigeria, Ghana, and Guinea, recently spread out across Liberia to prepare for disarmament of 60,000 combatants, whose factional fighting plunged Liberia into a civil war.

John Taylor, a senior Protestant leader, urged Britain to abandon Northern Ireland peace talks until the IRA calls off their alleged vigilante death campaign against alleged drug dealers.

The crew of an American Airlines jet that crashed in Colombia was misled by an air traffic controller, pilots who reviewed transcripts of pilot-to-ground conversations told The Miami Herald. A preliminary report from Colombian authorities blamed the crew. American Airlines declined to comment.

Khun Sa, a key opium warlord in the Golden Triangle, has agreed to surrender, the Burmese military said. The Golden Triangle, where the borders of Burma, Thailand, and Laos converge, provides 60 percent of the heroin sold in America.

ETCETERA

I'm still waiting for my first Serb customer, but you can be sure I'd serve him.

Why not? We have to move toward peace now."

- Gas pump attendant Robert Kovac in the Muslim-governed central Bosnian town of Travnik.

A hatbox containing Abraham Lincoln's stovepipe hat has arrived in Chicago under armed escort. The box - sealed, braced, padded, and crated - was being delivered to the Chicago Historical Society as part of what the society calls the most comprehensive exhibit ever held of Lincoln artifacts. The exhibit opens Feb. 12, Lincoln's birthday.

Philadelphia's zoo has opened a memorial to the 23 primates killed in a Christmas weekend fire. The "Remembrance Gallery" will serve as a tribute to the lowland gorillas, orangutans, lemurs, and gibbons - many of them endangered species - that died inside the World of Primates building.

Salman Rushdie won the Whitbread Novel Award, one of Britain's leading literary prizes, for his novel "The Moor's Last Sigh."

Cars With Dollar Power

The Ford F-150 pickup was named North American Truck of the Year by a panel of journalists. (See also US News In Brief.) It also appears on this list of cars with the best resale value.

BMW 318i Convertible

BMW Z3

Chevy K1500

Dodge Viper

Ford F-150

Ford Mustang Convertible

Mazda MX-5 Miata

Mercedes-Benz 300E

Porsche 911

Volkswagen Cabriolet

- J. D. Power and Associates, (Agoura Hills, Calif.)

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