News In Brief

THE US

President Clinton and Republican candidate Bob Dole prepared for their final televised debate. On the eve of the town-hall-style event at a university campus in San Diego, Dole issued his harshest condemnation of Clinton's ethical behavior.

Social Security benefits for 44 million Americans will rise 2.9 percent in 1996, the government said. It will be the largest jump in four years, pushing the average monthly check to $745, an increase of $21.

Consumer prices rose 0.3 percent in September, following a 0.1 percent rise in August, the Labor Department said. Higher food prices were the largest factor.

Chinese dissident Wang Xizhe was reportedly allowed to enter the US under an emergency visa. He has been in and out of detention in China since 1974. He reportedly fled the country after fellow dissident Liu Xiaobo was sentenced last week to three years in a labor camp.

A tropical depression in the northwest Caribbean grew into tropical storm Lili, threatening further damage to south Florida. Clinton declared 16 Florida counties federal disaster areas in the wake of tropical storm Josephine.

Federal rules to open the telephone industry to competition were put on hold by a federal appeals court in St. Louis. Phone and cable TV companies won the stay. The judge agreed to hear their challenge of the rules in January. The Federal Communications Commission said it would appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

North Carolina filed a brief on behalf of tobacco companies challenging the government's power to regulate tobacco products as drugs. Kentucky had already filed such a brief. Also, Philip Morris Inc. asked a federal judge in New York for a summary judgment against the Food and Drug Administration to prevent it from regulating the sale and advertising of cigarettes.

Archer Daniels Midland Company of Decatur, Ill., pleaded guilty to antitrust charges and agreed to pay a $100-million fine for international price-fixing. It was by far the largest fine for criminal price-fixing the Justice Department has ever obtained. Related criminal investigations continue against two top ADM executives and other companies.

A Republican House chairman asked independent counsel Kenneth Starr to investigate possible misconduct by witnesses in hearings on White House Travel Office firings and the handling of FBI files. Rep. William Clinger of Pennsylvania asked Starr to see if witnesses were guilty of perjury or obstruction of justice at House Government Reform Committee hearings, chaired by Clinger. The White House characterized the request as "politically motivated."

The US has more children living in poverty than any other industrialized country, a humanitarian group reported. The Bread for World Institute said 22 percent of Americans under age 18 and about a quarter of those under 12 are either living in hunger or face the risk of hunger.

A federal judge in Los Angeles was asked to block a California plan to deny prenatal care to undocumented immigrant women. The American Civil Liberties Union said the request was prompted by indications of "imminent" cuts in the state's Medi-Cal program.

The Nation of Islam marked the anniversary of last year's Million Man March with a rally at the United Nations in New York. Organizers said they would issue a worldwide appeal for an end to exploitation and violence.

A former lobbyist was indicted on charges of making illegal gifts to former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy and arranging illegal campaign contributions to Espy's brother. The indictment of Richard Douglass in San Francisco follows the conviction last month of his former employer, Sun-Diamond Growers of California, on related charges.

A jury in Houston, Texas, convicted Juan Garcia Abrego of masterminding a massive drug smuggling operation and laundering millions in drug profits. Garcia Abrego was once on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" list.

Defense Secretary William Perry, in Moscow to lobby for ratification of the START II nuclear arms-reduction treaty, said the cash-strapped Russian government should approve it as a "cost-saver." Before Perry's arrival, some Russian officials called for the pact to be amended, with critics saying it would be too expensive to implement. If Russia's parliament doesn't ratify the treaty, Perry said, the US would be forced to pay for the upkeep of weapons in its stockpile that would have been eliminated.

THE WORLD

Doctors for Russian President Boris Yeltsin pronounced him fit for his long-awaited heart surgery and scheduled it for mid-November, the Interfax news agency reported. Yeltsin, who is resting at a sanatorium outside Moscow, met with visiting Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko.

Israeli and Arab spokesmen put different spins on the progress of talks aimed at achieving a redeployment of troops from the tense West Bank city of Hebron. As negotiators gathered in the Red Sea resort of Taba to resume talking, Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy raised the possibility of agreement "within hours." But Palestine Authority President Yasser Arafat described Israel's latest proposals on withdrawing from the city as "racist." Arafat was conferring in Cairo with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

A cease-fire among Somalia's rival clans is scheduled to take hold at midnight tonight. The agreement, mediated by the Kenyan government, calls for the dismantling of blockades that cut off access to the capital, Mogadishu, and divide the city into sectors. More than 350,000 Somalis have died in six years of civil war and famine -- seven of them in a skirmish last week.

Two prominent Indonesians - a senior lawmaker and a Muslim cleric - called for investigations into the links between wealthy businessman James Riady and US President Bill Clinton. Legislator Marcel Beding said it was "strange" for a citizen of a developing Asian country to be helping the president of a superpower with large political contributions, as alleged by Clinton's Republican opponents. Riady heads the Lippo Group, a large Indonesian conglomerate. Republicans question whether Lippo money influenced Clinton administration policies.

African leaders canceled a peace mission to Burundi because the Tutsi military government of Maj. Pierre Buyoya refuses to negotiate with Hutu rebels. Trade and transportation embargoes have been in place against Burundi since July 31.

The government of British Prime Minister Major proposed a ban on private ownership of all but the smallest-caliber guns. The proposal also would require all remaining handguns used for target shooting to be kept under lock. Gun use has fallen into wide disfavor since the murders of 16 children and their teacher at a school in Dunblane, Scotland, March 13 by a man who owned four licensed handguns. Fewer than 900,000 guns are licensed in Britain, which has a population of about 58 million people.

Afghanistan's Taliban government said it had enough troops to defend the capital, Kabul, and rejected an ultimatum to abandon the city. The BBC quoted former government military chief Ahmad Shah Masood - whose forces have pushed to within an hour's drive of Kabul - as demanding that the Taliban withdraw or face "destruction." The city, meanwhile, showed no signs of an impending assault.

ETCETERAS

''It is an unrivaled opportunity to get away from the American gun culture." - Hugh Dykes, Conservative Party legislator, on a proposed British ban on all but .22-caliber guns.

An Oslo court cried foul over egg cartons depicting happy hens on a farm It ruled the pictures illegal because the hens live in tiny cages, and consumers might be misled into thinking they were free-range hens.

Faced with a long delay in Rome, passengers on a British Airways flight to London got out and pushed to get things rolling. Airport workers were on strike, grounding the plane for at least four hours. Airline employees put their shoulders to the wheel, but couldn't budge the 60-ton plane. When they saw what was happening, 15 passengers helped push the plane to the runway, where it finally got off the ground.

Officials in Inner Mongolia are hoping a local singer will boost tourism. The Badain Jaran "singing desert" is caused by grains of sand pitted with tiny holes that emit musical sounds by "frictional resonance."

THE DAY'S LIST

Annual Operating Costs For 1997 Vehicles

Projected ownership and operating expenses for selected models, based on factors such as fuel, maintenance, insurance, and taxes. All vehicles are identically equipped and are rated on a three-year retention cycle.

Mercedes 320 S $18,212

Cadillac DeVille 14,596

Oldsmobile Aurora 13,266

Buick Riviera 11,945

Nissan Maxima GXE 9,729

Dodge Intrepid 9,172

Ford Taurus 8,875

Jeep Cherokee 8,519

Chevy Lumina 8,425

Toyota Camry DX 8,305

Honda Accord DX 7,517

Plymouth Neon 7,352

Saturn 7,179

Geo Metro 6,825

- Runzheimer International, a Wisconsin consulting firm

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