News In Brief

THE US

President Clinton kept his pen busy and signed several bills into law - notably one in Denver that outlaws "date-rape drugs" used by rapists to incapacitate victims. In Washington, he signed an act authorizing Army Corps of Engineers projects across the US, including one in Florida to restore the flow of clean water to Everglades National Park. Other signings: the 1997 Intelligence Authorization Act, which boosts spending by intelligence agencies; a bill making theft of trade secrets a federal crime; a law to reconstruct mutual fund regulation he says protects investors by simplifying the way mutual funds and corporate securities are regulated.

Clinton cloistered himself in an Albuquerque, N.M., hotel conference room set up to look like the stage for tomorrow night's town-hall-style debate in San Diego. Aides said they began devising off-the-wall questions the president might face. Earlier, he courted voters in downtown Albuquerque along the famous Route 66.

Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole headed west for the debates after marching in a Columbus Day parade in Newark, N.J. Campaigning with Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, he recalled her win after trailing in late polls. He won applause from supporters after asking if his campaign should get tougher on Clinton, and replied: "We're thinking about it." Earlier, running mate Jack Kemp changed tactics and charged the president with several ethical lapses.

Firefighters have contained most of a fire in Los Padres National Forest near Big Sur, a popular hiking and camping area about 80 miles south of the San Francisco Bay area. The fire has burned more than 10,000 acres and could double in size before it is fully contained, fire officials say. The wildfire, believed to have been started by an arsonist, has destroyed five homes.

Social well-being in the US is at its lowest point in almost 25 years, The New York Times reported, citing an index by New York's Fordham University. Children and young people are affected the most, the study said. Child abuse, teenage suicide, drug abuse, and the high school dropout rate worsened in 1994, the most recent year covered. The 11-year-old index studies federal government statistics on 16 different social problems.

Police dispersed more than 300 AIDS activists protesting in front of the White House after they threw urns said to contain human ashes onto the lawn. The demonstrators were protesting Clinton's AIDS policies and pressing demands such as guaranteed access to medication, more AIDS research, and a federally funded needle-exchange program for drug addicts.

Archer Daniels Midland Company of Decatur, Ill., agreed to plead guilty to federal charges related to price-fixing and to pay fines totalling $100 million. The agreement settles a Justice Department investigation into price-fixing of the feed additive lysine, citric acid, and high-fructose corn syrup, the company said.

Florida's Gov. Lawton Chiles asked Clinton to declare 15 counties federal disaster areas in the aftermath of tropical storm Josephine. The storm was the ninth major disaster to hit Florida since March 1993.

Detention hearings were to begin this week for seven men with links to the West Virginia Mountaineer Militia arrested Friday on conspiracy charges. An informant tipped off authorities that the suspects were plotting to blow up three federal buildings in West Virginia, including an FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division complex.

Violent crimes reported to police dropped by 3 percent in the US in 1995, led by an 8 percent drop in cities of more than 1 million population, an annual FBI report shows. Murder fell 7 percent, and rapes declined 5 percent from 1994.

Experts are predicting lower turnouts at the polls next month, according to the Boston Globe. They cite poor attendance at the national conventions for the prediction. And in four of five states with contested gubernatorial primary elections this year, fewer voters cast ballots than in 1992, they said.

THE WORLD

Rebels of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan recaptured some of the territory lost in late August to rivals backed by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, UN sources said. Among the gains: the key city of Sulaymaniyah. But the PUK said it would stop short of attacking Arbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, because the city was surrounded by Iraqi tanks. Meanwhile, representatives of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, which cast its lot with Saddam, headed for Washington for meetings with US officials.

Afghanistan's Taliban movement conceded that its troops lost a key strategic town north of Kabul to forces of the ousted military government. The Taliban also said senior commander Mullah Abdul Ahad was killed in the fighting. Taliban troops reportedly were digging in to prepare for attacks on Kabul at the hands of ousted government commander Ahmad Shah Masood.

Israeli President Ezer Weizman and his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak met in Cairo to try to ease tensions between their countries over the pace of the Middle East peace process. Mubarak set the stage for their discussions by telling Time magazine he was "very, very, very upset" with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for what he said was "no progress" in peace talks. Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat was in Jordan for talks with King Hussein.

Defense Secretary William Perry and a bipartisan group of US senators are due in Moscow today to lobby for further cuts in Russia's nuclear arsenal. The Start II strategic arms-reduction treaty, signed in 1993 as a means of cutting nuclear-weapons stockpiles to one-third of their cold war levels, is unpopular with members of the Duma - the lower house of Russia's Parliament. Perry also was to meet with his Russian counterpart, Igor Rodionov, on strengthening bilateral military cooperation.

UNITA rebel leader Jonas Savimbi stayed away from a meeting with Secretary of State Warren Christopher in Angola's capital, Luanda. Christopher urged both sides in the divided country to comply with the peace agreement they signed almost two years ago. The secretary praised President Jose Eduardo dos Santos for taking "major steps" toward ending almost 21 years of civil war. A Christopher deputy was sent to meet with Savimbi at the latter's rural headquarters. Some 7,000 UN peacekeepers are due to leave Angola in the next several months.

Austria's leading political party, the Social Democrats, took heavy losses in national elections - among them its majority on the Vienna City Council for the first time since World War II. The right-wing Freedom Party gained 22 percent more of the vote than it won in parliamentary balloting last December and will now send seven deputies to the European Parliament, more than any of Austria's other parties.

Roman Catholic Bishop Carlos Felipe Ximenes Belo, co-winner of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize, called for a referendum on autonomy to end Indonesia's military rule over East Timor. Belo said the East Timorese have never accepted Indonesia's annexation of the former Portuguese colony, which is predominantly Catholic. The other winner, Jose Ramos-Horta, is a former leftist guerrilla leader who fought against Portugal. He has traveled the world seeking support for East Timor's independence.

Over the objections of local employees, crews on the Mururoa Atoll in the South Pacific began dismantling France's controversial nuclear weapons-testing site. Television reports said the project should be completed by an unspecified date in 1998, and the resulting scrap would be sold to salvage companies or sunk in 10,000 feet of water. France concluded 30 years of testing last January. At its height, the Mururoa site provided 2,000 civilian jobs.

ETCETERAS

"We are coming together as a nation in unprecedented ways."

- Sullivan Robinson, deputy director of the Congress of National Black Churches, on the cooperation between blacks and whites to rebuild burned, predominantly black churches and offset racial hatred.

Nebraska legislative candidate Chris Peterson used stuffed animals and old purses to finance her campaign. She refused to accept money from special-interest groups and instead held a garage sale. It not only raised campaign cash, but let her meet some voters too.

An buyer in Oman paid $390,000 for a sporty mode of transportation that gets great mileage and uses alternative fuel. It was the highest price ever paid for a camel.

California's newest nature trail won't be seeing a lot of foot traffic. Officials have dedicated the state's first ocean kayak trail.

THE DAY'S LIST

High-Priced HeadS Of Higher Learning

The top-paid university presidents, according to a new study by the Chronicle of Higher Education compiled from last year's federal tax returns of 479 of the best-known colleges. In contrast, 42 presidents received no compensation or donated it to their colleges or religious orders.

1. Franklyn Jenifer, Washington Howard University: $800,318, with $676,980 severance pay.

2. William Richardson, Johns Hopkins University: $631,063, including a $250,000 "final payment."

3. John Silber, Boston University: $400,000, plus $165,018 in benefits.

4. Gerhard Casper, Stanford University: $527,533, including a $156,643 reimbursement for capital gains incurred by selling his Chicago home.

5. Walter Cohen, Allegheny University of Health Sciences: $390,352, plus $93,168 in benefits.

- Associated Press

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