News In Brief

By , Robert Kilborn, and Yvonne Zipp

THE US

President Clinton and Republican candidate Bob Dole campaigned in California, following their final debate. Dole continued to toughen his attack, using the televised face-off to repeatedly raise questions about Clinton's character. In general, the president limited his responses to public policy issues. Polls by CBS, ABC, and CNN showed more than 50 percent of viewers thought Clinton won the debate, while about 27 percent named Dole the victor.

Hurricane Lili was on a collision course with southern Cuba but was expected to miss the US. Florida residents were still told to prepare for about a foot of rain. The storm drenched the Honduras, Costa Rica, and Nicara-gua, killing at least eight people and leaving thousands homeless.

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The Senate Banking Committee opened a hearing into Jewish bank accounts missing since World War II. Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel accused Switzerland of collaborating with Hitler by safeguarding Jewish money appropriated by Nazi leaders. Committee chairman Alfonse D'Amato said documents in US archives detail a secret arrangement with Poland - and later Hungary and Czechoslovakia - to compensate Swiss citizens whose property was nationalized in the then-Communist countries.

Another 1,100 General Motors workers in the US were laid off because of a strike by Canadian GM employees. More than 11,000 workers in the US and Mexico have been idled by the two-week-old strike, a GM spokesman said.

The US announced a bid to end fighting in northern Iraq between rival Kurdish factions. Robert Pelletreau, an assistant secretary of state, will fly this weekend to the Middle East, where he will meet separately with Massoud Barzani, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, and Jalal Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. Meanwhile, Barzani threatened during a news conference in Iraq to ask Baghdad for more help in fighting Talabani's troops.

Housing starts fell 6 percent and industrial production barely rose last month, the government reported. Housing starts reached their lowest level since December. Industrial production was up 0.2 percent in September, after posting a 0.4 percent rise in August. The reports were cited - along with a rise of 18,000 in applications for unemployment last week - as further evidence that the economy is slowing down.

The number of women appointed to top jobs in state governments is proportionally lower than their numbers in the general population, a study by the State University of New York's Center for Women in Government said. The report found women hold just over 30 percent of 1,428 top policy-making posts. Another research group, the Catalyst, reported that last year only 10 percent of the nation's corporate officers were women.

Control systems of the Boeing 737 airliner need immediate changes, the National Transportation Safety Board said. Its recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration include rudder design modifications and training for pilots to prevent sudden and uncontrolled rolls.

Elementary school students learn more when they have access to the Internet, said a study released by the Center for Applied Special Technology, an independent research group. A two-month study of 500 students found those who used the Internet scored higher in nine learning criteria, including greater insight into topics and accuracy in handling information.

New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was planning to announce a lawsuit against the tobacco industry, a spokesman said. The suit was expected to be similar to those brought by 16 states to recoup public health-care costs of smokers.

A federal judge in Cleveland ordered the extradition to West Virginia of two militia members accused of plotting to blow up three federal buildings. They were arrested last week on charges of planning to bomb the FBI's national fingerprint record center and two other federal buildings in West Virginia.

THE WORLD

Saying "I can't tolerate the situation anymore," Russian President Boris Yeltsin accepted the resignation of his national security chief, Alexander Lebed. Yeltsin said the retired general had to go, despite achieving a halt to the fighting in Chechnya, because he had caused unacceptable controversy and divisiveness in the Russian government. The move followed weeks of feuding between Lebed and other senior officials, some of whom accused him of plotting a coup. Lebed said he would now "fully engage in politics," which was widely expected to mean mounting a new campaign for president.

US Defense Secretary William Perry urged Russian legislators to ratify the START II nuclear arms-reduction treaty. But following his testimony before the lower house of parliament, both US and Russian officials said he appeared to have done little to overcome opposition to the treaty among Communist and nationalist lawmakers.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators resumed talks on redeploying Israeli troops from Hebron on the West Bank. But as they did, Jewish settlers in the city moved to fence in an Arab-owned hilltop until they were stopped by Israeli soldiers. Palestinians said the fencing attempt would fuel tensions.

French state workers staged a one-day strike, shutting down most airline flights and train travel. The workers were protesting wage freezes and job losses that they say are caused by Prime Minister Alain Jupp's budget cuts.

A Chinese spokesman said recent moves by Beijing to crack down on dissidents shouldn't sour US-Sino talks next month. The statement came after Chinese dissident Wang Dan appealed for help from democracy activists in the US in his impending trial on charges of plotting to overthrow the government. If convicted, he could face 10 years in prison. Secretary of State Warren Christopher is scheduled to visit Beijing shortly after the November trial.

Late voter-preference polls in Nicaragua showed Daniel Ortega narrowing the lead of former Managua mayor Arnoldo Aleman in Sunday's presidential election. Ortega, the country's former Sandinista president, ended his campaign by admitting a mistake in pushing Nicaragua into a war with US-backed Contra rebels in the 1980s. Aleman portrayed Ortega as a dictator who, if elected, would return the country to its violent past.

A low voter turnout is predicted on Sunday in Japan, where polls showed the once-dominant Liberal Democratic Party headed for a likely majority in the lower house of parliament. The winning party also will choose Japan's next prime minister. Also voting Sunday: Albania, whose local elections will be overseen by hundreds of international observers; and Finland, where the electorate will choose deputies to the European Parliament and local office-holders.

South Korean President Kim Young-sam fired his defense minister and replaced four top military commanders. Lee Yang-ho's dismissal came amid intense criticism of the South's military for allowing a North Korean submarine to enter its defense perimeter undetected. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Kim Dong-jin, was named as his successor..

Guatemala's president declared three days of national mourning after soccer fans stampeded prior to a World Cup qualifying game, causing more than 80 deaths and almost 200 other injuries. Soccer's world governing body, FIFA, blamed the incident on forgers, who were said to have sold fake tickets to the game. But a government spokesman said the crush began when fans tried to flee a disturbance in the grandstand. The game was postponed indefinitely.

ETCETERAS

"On October 20 at the ballot box we will have the last great opportunity to advance and escape from the abyss that the dictatorships sank us in."

- Liberal Alliance party presidential candidate Arnoldo Aleman, on Sunday's elections in Nicaragua.

The first "imperial egg," made by Faberg craftsmen for the Empress of Russia in 1885, went on display in Washington's Corcoran Gallery of Art. It took jewelers three years to make and is full of surprises. A matte finish was put on the 2.5-inch golden egg to make it look real. Inside, the yolk opens up, revealing a tiny chicken. That also opens up and originally held a miniature crown. Inside that was a ruby egg.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has his opponents befuddled by his latest request for a pay raise. He asked parliament only for $700 a year for himself and cabinet members, and $425 for legislators. He has presided over dramatic economic growth but says he doesn't want to strain government finances.

Guardians of Vermont's cultural heritage have decided the general store is too important to risk being endangered by mega-malls. The Preservation Trust and the Vermont Country Store mail-order house award cash grants to help general store operators stay in business. The stores dispense household supplies, food, gas, directions, and gossip.

A New England couple who bought an old frame at a garage sale picked up quite a bargain. While restorating it, they discovered two rare watercolor drawings by 19th-century Shaker artists. Sotheby's says Hannah Cohoon's "Tree of Light" and Polly Collins's "Gift Drawing" could fetch more than $300,000.

Favorite Tourist Meccas

Most popular world travel destinations, according to the ninth annual reader survey by Cond Nast Traveler magazine.

1. Sydney

2. San Francisco

3. Queenstown, New Zealand

4. Florence, Italy

5. New Orleans

6. Rome

7. Paris

8. Victoria, British Columbia

9. Vancouver, British Columbia

10. Venice

- Cond Nast/AP

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