News In Brief

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THE US

President Clinton's senior damage-control lawyer for Whitewater denied she had told USA Today that the White House expected a new round of indictments this winter. Jane Sherburne said the newspaper misquoted her in suggesting that present or former members of the president's staff would be among those charged in the case. She said she did not know what Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr was planning.

The US economy grew at an even slower rate over the summer than previously believed, the Commerce Department reported. It said the increase in gross domestic product was only 2 percent for the July-September quarter, after a 4.7 percent showing in the spring.

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Unemployment statistics have changed little in the last month, according to the Labor Department. It said 342,000 Americans filed for state jobless benefits over the third week in November. But the four-week "moving average" held steady at 336,250.

Acting baseball commissioner Bud Selig said major league team owners and players can now work together to "bring peace" to the sport. The two sides ended four years of labor strife earlier this week when owners voted 26-4 to accept a new collective bargaining agreement. The four-year deal requires teams in major markets to share revenues with small-market clubs.

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed new air-quality rules that would tighten pollution limits already not being met by many cities. The move was a blow to a coalition of mayors, state governors, and industry executives who had lobbied heavily against the proposals, calling them too costly to implement.

A New York newspaper reported a connection between the chairman of a key Pentagon panel and a US company that sold biological agents to Iraq before the Gulf war. The committee dismissed links between biological weapons and the illnesses reported by veterans of the war. Newsday said geneticist Joshua Lederberg was on the board of American Type Culture Collection, which shipped anthrax and other pathogens to Iraq between 1985 and 1989.

Three soldiers charged with the rape and sexual harassment of women recruits will be court-martialed In ordering the trials, Maj. Gen. John Longhouser, commander of the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, approved investigators' recommendations that the defendants' cases be heard by a military rather than a civilian court.

Accused CIA employee Harold Nicholson pleaded innocent to federal charges that he had spied for Russia. In Alexandria, Va., US District Judge James Cacheris also imposed a gag order to keep government officials from commenting publicly about the case. Nicholson's trial was set for March 10, 1997.

California Gov. Pete Wilson was blocked by a state court from denying prenatal care to illegal immigrants. In San Francisco, Superior Court Judge William Cahill ruled that the state must first seek public comment before enforcing a provision of the new federal welfare-reform law signed by Clinton in August. The New York Times reported that Clinton may ask Congress to restore $55 billion in food-stamp cuts called for in the law.

No-frills British airline Virgin Atlantic is negotiating to buy $1.1 billion worth of new jets from a US supplier, The Wall Street Journal reported. The newspaper said Seattle-based Boeing was the leading contender to build 25 narrow-body planes for the carrier, over McDonnell Douglas of St. Louis and Europe's Airbus Industrie. Meanwhile, Boeing declined to elaborate on a report in a California newspaper that it was negotiating with McDonnell Douglas to design, build, and test a new version of the 767 widebody jet.

THR WORLD

Iraqi oil could be on the international market as early as next week, officials in Baghdad said. Experts say the UN will formally approve the $2 billion oil-for-food deal - renewable every six months - after Iraq agreed to all terms set by the UN. In Vienna, oil ministers of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries shrugged off Iraq's imminent return to the market. However, analysts say, Iraqi exports could push oil prices lower..

North Korea's release of a US citizen, detained on spy charges since Aug. 25, has opened a path for better relations between the communist country and Washington, said US Rep. Bill Richardson (D) of New Mexico, who negotiated the release. Evan Carl Hunziker, reportedly a missionary, was detained and charged with espionage after he crossed from China into North Korea without proper travel documents.

The remaining Russian troops in Chechnya will start pulling out from the war-shattered region Monday, the Defense Ministry announced in Moscow. Officials said the withdrawal will be completed by Jan. 25, two days before presidential and parliamentary elections in Chechnya. Meanwhile, Belarus held a ceremony in its capital, Minsk, to mark the handover to Russia of the last Soviet-era nuclear missiles stationed on its land. Two other former Soviet republics, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, previously surrendered all their nuclear weapons.

Israel dropped its demand for written guarantees allowing its troops to chase suspects into Palestinian-controlled areas of Hebron - a key sticking point in talks on the West Bank city.

A low voter turnout and large protests against Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's rule marked Serbia's new local elections, after opposition victories in earlier balloting were annulled. Serbia's Supreme Court backed Milosevic call for repeat voting in dozens of cities and towns because of alleged irregularities.

Algerian voters seemed less than enthusiastic about voting in a constitutional referendum that would bar Islamist parties from elections, newspapers in the country said. The vote was set for yesterday. Last year's presidential poll recorded a 75 percent voter turnout. Apathy over the referendum was blamed on corruption, political violence, and economic hardship. Some 60,000 people have died in a five-year-old guerrilla campaign by radical Muslims.

Burma's military regime said the Burmese people would punish pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council asserted that Suu Kyi was destabilizing Myanmar, as the regime has officially renamed the country. Earlier, US President Clinton singled out Burma for strong criticism for human-rights abuses and narcotics trafficking in his state visit to neighboring Thailand.

British Air Force pilot Andy Green's bid to break the world land speed record was dampened after flash floods turned hisdesert track in Jordan into a lake. A member of Green's team said only developmental runs would be attempted this year and that a try for the world record of 633.47 m.p.h and possibly the sound barrier of 760 m.p.h at sea level would attempted next spring.

Zaire's main opposition leader, Etienne Tshisekedi, promised national reconciliation on his return home after a symbolic handshake with ailing President Mobutu in France. Tshisekedi was elected prime minister by a transitional National Conference in August 1992. But Mobutu refused to confirm him and replaced him three months later.

ETCETERAS

''What this shows is how desperate China is to try to marginalize and, if possible, silence the Dalai Lama..."

-Entertainment industry executive Danny Schechter, on Disney Studios' decision to release a film on the Dalai Lama, over Chinese government objections.

Do you dread the thought of heading to the mall today to start Christmas shopping? Then fight off that urge to splurge, says a coalition of groups that sponsor "Buy Nothing Day." They've targeted the traditional start of the holiday gift-buying rush not to make a dent in retail sales but to spark debate on what they call the social and environmental consequences of materialism.

Don Whitlatch is known for his artistry on the golf course. Not because of his accuracy off the tee, mind you, or his skill around the greens. The Parkersburg, W. Va., resident's claim to fame is his paintings of the greatest holes in the sport, like No. 4 at the Homestead resort in Virginia.

His name isn't Rex, but Donald Andrews's German shepherd is a certified wonder dog just the same. Andrews, of Warwick, R.I., entered Pery against 19 other police dogs in the national tracking championships. Following a trail that was hours old, Pery found four pieces of evidence and a hiding "suspect," scoring 96 points out of a possible 100. The trail took him through a swamp, cornstalks, a field of winter rye grass, across a road, and into a woods.

THE DAY'S LIST

Rating the Safest and Most Dangerous Cities

Money magazine based its listings on survey data, size of local police force, and on adjusted FBI statistics that gave greater weight to crimes that respondents found most threatening. No data available for Chicago, Springfield, and Rockford, Ill., or Albuquerque, N.M.

SAFE COMMUNITIES

1. Amherst, N.Y.

2. Thousand Oaks, Calif.

3. Irvine, Calif.

4. Simi Valley, Calif.

5. Sunnyvale, Calif.

DANGER ZONES

1. Newark

2. Atlanta

3. St. Louis

4. New Orleans

5. Detroit

- Associated Press

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