News In Brief

THE US

On a whistlestop trip to the Democratic convention, President Clinton was to unveil a $2 billion literacy proposal in Wyandotte, Mich. In Chicago, Hillary Rodham Clinton was to take the podium with civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, Indiana Gov. Evan Bayh, and former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo. Earlier, President Reagan's former press secretary, Jim Brady, and his wife, Sarah, lauded Clinton's support for gun control. Actor Christopher Reeve also addressed the crowd.

California Gov. Pete Wilson vowed to sign a "chemical castration" bill the state legislature is completing final action on this week. Described as the most punitive child molestation measure ever adopted in the US, it would allow courts to require first-time child molesters to either take hormone-suppressing drugs when paroled from prison. Or they could opt for physical castration. The American Civil Liberties Union says the bill interferes with the right to privacy, to procreate, and to exercise control over one's body.

Army troops arrived in Oregon's Cascade Range to help battle fires that have burned about 100,000 acres. About a dozen new lightning-sparked fires have cropped up in the area since the weekend. In California, about 37,000 acres were ablaze in Yosemite National Park and Stanislaus National Forest. In all, about 18,000 people are fighting fires on more than 280,000 acres in the West.

The defense was scheduled to give closing arguments in a New York trial of three men charged with plotting to blow up a dozen US jetliners over Asia. The accused ringleader, Ramzi Yousef, was expected to argue that the case is based on fabricated evidence planted by the US. Earlier, a prosecutor said in closing arguments that the defendants hoped to punish the US for supporting Israel.

Consumer confidence hit a new six-year high in August, advancing for a second straight month. Most economists had expected a decline. Consumer confidence is watched for indications of consumer spending, which accounts for about two-thirds of the nation's economy.

TWA Flight 800, which exploded off Long Island last month, was used to transport US military personnel to the Middle East in the last few years, investigators said. They wouldn't comment on whether they believe that's how explosive substances got on the plane. Also, the government asked TWA to pay $5 million for part of the investigation, which has cost $20 million so far. But the airline said it should not be held responsible for paying any portion of the government investigation.

Some 61 percent of Americans oppose giving parents the right to send their children to private schools at the public's expense, a Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll found. A smaller 54 percent don't want a voucher system that would allow parents to choose a public, private, or church-related school with the government paying all or part of the tuition.

Nearly half of all 11th graders in California have experimented with drugs in recent months - a sharp increase over usage four years ago, a statewide survey sponsored by the Attorney General's office found. More than 1 in 4 seventh-graders has experimented with drugs in the last six months. The survey polled public school students in Grades 7, 9, and 11.

Arson appears to be the cause of a weekend fire that destroyed the Kentucky Missionary Baptist church in Benton, Ark., authorities said. But the fire doesn't appear to be related to two earlier arson fires at two predominantly black churches in the state.

At least 3,273 birds, including 597 endangered California brown pelicans, have died at California's Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge since Aug. 16. About 5,000 breeding pairs of the brown pelicans survive in California. The deaths may be linked to fish killed last month by illegal pesticide use on nearby farmlands, the Department of Fish and Wildlife said.

THE WORLD

Russian and Chechen rebel commanders finalized a truce brokered by Russian security chief Alexander Lebed. A dispute over weapons seized from Russian troops had delayed the cease-fire, but rebel chief-of-staff Aslan Maskhadov said both sides agreed "that no provocations would become grounds for a breakdown in negotiations." Also, Russian President Yeltsin, who is on vacation, ignored Lebed's requests for a meeting, raising concerns about Lebed's efforts to establish a lasting peace in the region.

One thousand delegates gathered from 130 countries to address the growing problem of commercial child sex at the first-ever world symposium in Stockholm. At the five-day conference, UNICEF announced that about 1 million children are forced into prostitution and used to make pornography each year. (Story, Page 1.)

Municipal elections in Bosnia were postponed due to "widespread abuse of rules and regulations," an election official said. National elections will go ahead as planned Sept. 14. Bosnians will be voting for a three-member presidency, a national legislature, and two state legislatures - one for the Muslim-Croat federation and one for the Serb republic.

Iraqi hijackers surrendered to British police after forcing a Sudanese jetliner to land in London. All of the 199 passengers and crew were released unharmed. The seven hijackers indicated they would be seeking political asylum in Great Britain.

Israel approved the construction of a new neighborhood in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank. The move, certain to anger Palestinians, was the first approval of a building plan by the conservative government. Palestinians say settlement construction violates the 1993 interim peace agreement and could derail the peace process.

South African police officer Eugene de Kock was convicted on 89 of 121 charges against him. He could receive life sentences for his six murder convictions and a variety of additional penalties for the other 83 charges, including manslaughter, attempted murder, abduction, and fraud. Hearings are set for Sept. 16. De Kock is the highest-ranked police officer to be convicted of apartheid-era crimes.

Chief UN arms inspector Rolf Ekeus met with senior Iraqi officials days after the UN found Baghdad in "gross violation" of demands to grant inspectors access to sites suspected of housing banned weapons materials. Under a 1991 UN Security Council resolution, Iraq is required to destroy all of its chemical, biological, nuclear, and long-range arms.

The last Rwandan refugee camp in Burundi closed, ending the biggest repatriation since about 2 million fled their country two years ago. Rwandan Hutu refugees concerned about life under the new Tutsi regime began leaving Burundi in large numbers after the July 25 coup. At the start of the year, there were about 130,000 Rwandan refugees in Burundi. Also, Bujumbura was without electricity for the fourth straight day after Hutu rebels destroyed four electrical pylons that carried electricity from a hydroelectric dam in the north to the capital.

A Cuban court sentenced American Robert Vesco to 13 years in prison for producing and marketing medicine without the government's knowledge. The fugitive financier fled the US 25 years ago to avoid charges he stole $224 million from mutual fund investors.

For the second day in a row, Estonia's parliament failed to elect a president. They were to vote again later to choose between incumbent President Lennart Meri and deputy Parliamentary Speaker Arnold Ruutel. So far, both men have fallen far short of the 68 votes needed to claim the presidency.

ETCETERAS

''Try not to fall asleep. Try not to grimace. Try not to be talking to your neighbors, or reading the newspaper.... Look good. Have fun. Enjoy yourselves."

-- Dan Hannaher, chairman of North Dakota's Democratic Party, advising state delegates how to act at the convention.

World chess champion Anatoly Karpov beat the whole world during the first open chess game on the Internet. The match went 65 moves and took 4-1/2 hours, with about 300 players submitting suggestions for moves. Karpov played his end of the game in a Helsinki hotel where chess buffs paid $6.60 to sit with him.

Months after she flung her message in a bottle into the Atlantic, elementary school student Danielle Murray from Sandusky, Ohio, has a new pen pal. Young Carlo Hoffman found the bottle on Robben Island, South Africa - longtime prison of President Mandela. The post office says it will send Hoffman's reply for free.

The key to getting a good hotel in Chicago? Bray about it! Irene, the official mascot of the Alabama Democratic Party, is booked at the Renaissance Hotel. The donkey is parked in a red, white, and blue trailer outside the classy joint. The Alabama delegation is staying at an old inn with crumbling plaster.

Reckless skaters beware! New York's Central Park hired "roller rangers" to control careless and speedy in-line skaters. While the rangers can write tickets, their primary purpose is to remind skaters of the rules.

THE DAY'S LIST

Making Yourself at Home In a 12 x 18 Dorm Room

College students living away from home will spend at least eight months in dorm rooms this year. An interior design consultant for Kmart Corp. suggests these items to bring a 12-by-18- foot dorm room to life.

Worn-out couch from the basement

Old dishes

Curtains from home to replace those supplied by the college

Area rug with accent rugs

Microwave

Futon

Desk organizer lamp with compartments to hold supplies

Dome-touch lamp with a 3-way lighting feature

Space-saving containers to store possessions

Multi-use cart with storage bins

-- Kmart Corp./Associated Press

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