News In Brief

By , Lance Carden, and Yvonne Zipp

THE US

Saying "parents may rush to the hospital, but they shouldn't be rushed out of it," President Clinton signed a bill that would force insurance companies to pay for at least 48-hours of hospital care for new mothers. Later, he was to visit Capitol Hill to rally congressional Democrats.

The White House tentatively praised one bill that aims to curb illegal immigration and castigated a second one that would let states bar children of illegal immigrants from public schools. The second measure was originally part of the first bill, but was dropped when Clinton threatened to veto the entire measure. The Senate is expected to pass the first bill, which would double the number of border guards and tighten penalties for document fraud, but the school-restriction measure is unlikely to pass. And Clinton pledged to veto it if it does, saying "if it comes to my desk, it's history."

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The Senate was to vote on overriding Clinton's ban on certain late-term abortions. Last week, the House passed a similar measure, but the Senate is unlikely to garner enough votes for an override.

The State Department implicitly criticized Israel for the escalating violence between Jews and Palestinians, which was sparked by the completion of an Israeli tunnel at an Islamic holy site. Secretary of State Warren Christopher urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to personally take charge of the crisis. Netanyahu later said he was cutting short his trip to Europe to deal with the situation.

The White House is embarking on a new plan to transport thousands of urban welfare recipients to suburban jobs to help get them off public assistance, officials said. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros was to announce a four-year, $17-million pilot project that targets five cities - Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Milwaukee, and St. Louis. Officials said the White House hopes to expand the program to at least 75 cities within two years.

Clinton's threatened veto has effectively killed a federal parks bill, congressional sources said. The bill would create or expand dozens of federal parks, but the White House says it would shrink Virginia's Shenandoah National Park, threaten Florida's barrier islands with development, and allow private parties to own cabins in Sequoia National Park in California. The bill's widely supported provisions may be includ-ed in a catchall spending measure before Congress adjourns.

A federal judge cleared the way for prosecutors in the Oklahoma City bombing trial to seek the death penalty for suspects Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. Judge Richard Matsch rejected defense claims that Attorney General Janet Reno violated Justice Department policy by announcing she would press for the death penalty before any arrests were made.

A new private study indicates drug use among teenagers may be much higher than suggested by a recent government survey. About 18 percent of students in junior and senior high school use illegal drugs monthly, the study by the National Parents' Resource Institute for Drug Education found. The group says the use of illegal drugs and tobacco by minors "is at the highest level PRIDE has ever recorded."

Astronaut Shannon Lucid got to take her first steps on Earth after more than six months in orbit when the shuttle Atlantis landed at Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Demand for big-ticket durable goods dropped 3.1 percent in August, the steepest decline in 16 months. A Commerce Department report also showed July orders were not as strong as previously thought, rising 1.4 percent.

Researchers at Bellcore uncovered a security flaw in smart cards - plastic money with a computer-chip memory - that makes it possible for them to be counterfeited.

THE WORLD

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat were set to meet to try to quell Israeli-Palestinian violence. Fighting between Israeli troops and Palestinian demonstrators escalated in the West Bank and Gaza. Reports from health officials indicated at least 37 Palestinians and five Israelis were killed in the second day of fighting. Hundreds of others were reported injured. And numerous countries voiced support for the Palestinians.

The US might keep ground troops in Bosnia if NATO military planners determine it is "necessary and appropriate," Defense Secretary William Perry said at a meeting of NATO Defense Ministers in Bergen, Norway. But, Perry added, the US is "not prepared to make a commitment at this time."

Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrosyan cracked down hard on his political opponents. Troops backed by tanks were called into the capital, Yerevan, where they arrested supporters of Vazgen Manukyan, who is accused of trying to seize power in riots that followed Sunday's disputed election. Manukyan says the election, in which he finished second, was rigged.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin should be able to work three or four hours a day over the next six to 10 weeks as he awaits surgery, said American heart specialist Michael DeBakey. "There is no reason why the president should not be restored to full normal activity, he said.

Two Hong Kong activists were seriously injured - and one later died - when they leaped off their boat into heavy seas with ropes that attached them to it. The Japanese Coast Guard prevented their flotilla from reaching the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. The demonstrators had hoped to put up a Chinese flag and tear down a Japanese lighthouse on one of the islands, which have been controlled by Japan since 1972. Japanese refer to the islands as the Senkakus.

Thousands of civilians fled Kabul, Afghanistan, as Taliban rebels closed in on the capital. Both sides ignored a UN Security Council call for a cease-fire. Government jets bombed rebel positions, the government said. Hundreds are reported killed on both sides in the conflict.

An Australian man sparked a national debate on mercy killing after committing the world's first legally-assisted suicide in the northern outback city of Darwin, Australia. Bob Dent, who was diagnosed with a terminal health problem, died from a computer-delivered lethal injection. It was the first time the Northern Territory's euthanasia law has been used since coming into effect July 1. Also, Beijing was tight-lipped about an earlier threat to retaliate after the Dalai Lama met with Prime Minister John Howard in Sydney.

Voting began in Gambia, where democracy is being restored after two years of military rule. Military leader Colonel Yahya Jammeh is considered the most likely of the candidates to emerge as president.

Tamil Tiger rebels launched a major counterattack against Sri Lankan troops, killing at least 100 near their northern stronghold of Kilinochchi, military officials said.

The former chief of a covert South African police hit squad said a South African spy was involved in the 1986 assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, an apartheid foe. Eugene de Kock made the allegation before a judge in Pretoria, who convicted him last month of six murders and other crimes.

Jean-Paul Akayesu, a prime suspect in the 1994 massacre of up to 2 million Rwandan Tutsis and moderate Hutus, appeared before an international tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania, to face genocide charges. He is the first person to come before the tribunal on such charges.

ETCETERAS

"She has a toughness and she has an ability to perform.... [Lucid] never, never flinched."

-- NASA administrator Daniel Goldin, about astronaut Shannon Lucid, who spent six months in orbit. Goldin had a gift for Lucid from President Clinton - a huge box of colored, candy-coated chocolates she said she'd craved in space.

Forget Wheaties. The new breakfast of champions is pizza and soda. General Mills asked more than 500 Americans what they like for breakfast. Some 36 percent said they'd eaten leftover pizza within the last month, and 29 percent said they broke their fast with soda. Eight percent greeted the day with cookies.

A far-off galaxy showered Earth with two record-setting bursts of gamma rays that have scientists stumped. They think a spinning black hole sent out jets of matter and radiation that collided with photons to become gamma rays. But it will take some doing to explain the two bursts detected last May, the journal Nature reported.

Septic system failing? Try dropping some worms down a hole. Delaware soil scientist Lyle Jones has a $21,300 grant to see if nightcrawlers are effective in restoring failing septic systems. If his experiment works, it could be effective in reducing pollution, EPA employee Sarah Blackman says.

A Norway spruce at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., is now tops in the nation. The tree, which is 120-feet tall, was certified as the largest of its kind in the US.

THE DAY'S LIST

Sports Memories on Sale

Some items on the block at tonight's memorabilia auction at the Boston Garden, which was home to the Celtics basketball team until 1995 (with estimated minimum sale price):

Single balcony seat signed by Larry Bird $300

Basketball rim bent by Shaquille O'Neal $500

Former coach Red Auerbach's seat, including phone line to Celtics bench and another line to Chinese food $1,000

Jo Jo White's 1974 NBA championship ring $1,000

Sam Jones's stained glass window from Basketball Hall of Fame $2,000

Celtics time out horn $400

Broadcaster Johnny Most's table, speaker, and chair $400

Vintage vendor's apparatus, including hot dog steamer $400

Skybox, including 12 vinyl seats $200

- Associated Press

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