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News In Brief

By CompiledRobert Kilborn and Cynthia Hanson / November 27, 1996



The US

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David Kessler, the US Food and Drug Administration commissioner who waged war on the tobacco industry, announced his resignation. Despite appeals by the White House to stay on, he said six years as head of the agency was enough. Kessler had called tobacco an addictive drug used to hook children on cigarettes and published the nation's first regulations of tobacco marketing. Some of Kessler's other accomplishments: new nutrition information on labels and speeding drug approvals.

The broadcast, computer, and consumer electronics industries came to a landmark agreement: The marketplace, not the government, should decide the format for displaying images on screens, and screen sizes and shapes. The decision opens the way for a government plan, possibly by the end of the year, on standards for futuristic, cinema-quality TV.

The Federal Communications Commission adopted an order that could lower international phone rates and save Americans billions of dollars. The rates would free US companies to negotiate fees with foreign carriers and more closely reflect the actual costs of making such calls. Consumers pay an average of 99 cents a minute for international calls. Based on actual costs, that amount should only be about 50 cents, regulators say.

US and Japanese negotiators ended two days of talks in Tokyo with little progress in resolving a dispute over access to Japan's insurance market. The Clinton administration says Japan has not lived up to a 1994 agreement calling for easier access by foreign companies to its insurance market - the world's second- largest. New talks were scheduled for Dec. 6 in an effort to resolve the dispute before a Dec. 15 self-imposed deadline.

America's family makeup is stabilizing. That's the picture presented by a Census Bureau report that found households with members related by marriage, birth, or adoption made up 70 percent of 98.9 million US households last year. That's down from 81.2 percent in 1970, but most of the change occurred in the first 20 years. The figure was 70.8 percent in 1990. Households with married couples with children declined to 25 percent in 1995 from 26.3 percent in 1990 and 40.3 percent in 1970.

Two new government studies support claims of Gulf war veterans that their service led to health problems, The New York Times reported. The veterans are more than three times as likely as other troops to have problems, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control. A Navy survey arrived at similar findings, Pentagon officials said. Many veterans blame their health problems on exposure to chemical or biological weapons.

Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros proposed $20 million in federal aid to help rebuild and revitalize St. Petersburg, Fla. The city erupted in race riots twice last month after the fatal shooting of a black motorist by a white policeman and again after a grand jury cleared the officer.

Texaco executives, not shareholders or employees, should suffer financial penalty because of racial slurs at the oil company, California's state treasurer Matt Fong said. He was referring to a boycott called for by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, which he said was "well-intentioned but misdirected." Texaco Corp. agreed to pay $176.1 million to settle two-year-old discrimination claims after a recording of executives belittling black employees was made public this month.

Consumer confidence in the economy held steady during November, with most Americans remaining optimistic about business conditions, the Conference Board said.

A winter ice storm that coated roads from Texas to Missouri eased after being blamed for 26 deaths, stranding hundreds of travelers, and leaving thousands without power. Crews dumped roughly 80 tons of sand on streets in Mineral Wells, Texas, which were covered by as much as 2 inches of ice.

The World

Many of Iraq's poorer citizens danced in the streets at word that President Saddam Hussein's government had OK'd the final conditions of its oil-for-food deal with the UN. The deal allows Iraq to sell $2 billion worth of oil every six months if the proceeds are used to buy food and medicines, in short supply since UN sanctions were imposed in 1990.

US reconnaissance planes hunted for thousands of Hutu refugees in the hills of eastern Zaire. Meanwhile, Tanzania said it wanted more than 600,000 Rwandan Hutus to return home.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed in the West Bank that Jewish settlements there would continue to grow. He said Israel would not bow to international pressure to stop construction and would not uproot any settlement as part of the Middle East peace process.