News In Brief

The US

Trent Lott (R) of Mississippi was reelected as Senate majority leader, and Tom Daschle (D) of South Dakota seemed certain of reelection as minority leader, as Democratic and Republican senators gathered for separate closed-door meetings to prepare for the 105th Congress, which convenes in January.

Two county sheriffs from Montana and Arizona challenged the Brady gun-control law before the US Supreme Court, saying the federal government cannot require local police to help enforce the measure. Federal lawyers defend the 1993 statute as a legal effort to curb rampant gun violence.

A US spacecraft has located a lake-size mass of ice on the moon, the Pentagon reported. Scientists said existence of ice in a giant crater near the moon's south pole makes it more likely humans will someday live on the lunar surface.

A federal judge in Los Angeles ordered a new trial for Charles Keating, who was head of Lincoln Savings & Loan when it declared bankruptcy in 1989. The ruling came after Keating's lawyers said some jurors who found him guilty of fraud and racketeering had been aware of a previous state-court conviction. Lincoln's collapse, which had a domino effect on the savings industry, cost US taxpayers $2.6 billion.

The index of leading economic indicators gained 0.1 percent in October, the Conference Board said. The ninth straight monthly gain in the index was seen as another indication the economy is growing moderately. The small improvement follows a revised 0.2 percent increase in September and a 0.1 percent gain in August.

US manufacturing grew for the sixth straight month in November, a private association said. The National Association of Purchasing Management index reached its highest level since June, rising to 52.7 percent from 50.2 percent in October. The association's index of prices paid by manufacturers fell from 47.1 percent in October to 45.9 percent in November.

New-home sales fell to a seven-month low in October, the Commerce Department said. The 8.7 percent decline followed a 4.5 percent decline in September.

Twenty-seven percent of children under 18 live with only one parent, the US Census Bureau reported. The statistic came as part of the bureau's 1995 tabulations on the marital status and living arrangements of Americans.

The launch of the Mars Pathfinder was delayed at least until today because of a last-minute computer problem. It was the second delay of the launch in as many days.

Two black Air Force mechanics have filed complaints of racial harassment at San Antonio's Kelly Air Force Base. The mechanics say coworkers wore pillowcases to look like Ku Klux Klansmen during a September incident.

Rep. Bob Dornan (R) of California formally asked for a recount of votes in last month's election of Democrat Loretta Sanchez, who was declared the winner over the incumbent by 984 votes. The nine-term congressman asked the Orange County registrar to inspect some 26,000 absentee ballots and 1,800 other disputed votes.

Northrop Grumman Corp. filed suit against the federal government for $764.7 million it said it lost because a missile program was canceled in February 1995. Northrop said the government ended the program without making proper assessments and reporting to Congress as required by law.

The TV industry is near agreement on a ratings system, officials involved in the discussions said. The industry is expected to use the "G," "PG," and "PG-13" ratings already familiar to moviegoers.

The World

Police mostly stood by as tens of thousands of Serbs were back on the streets of Belgrade in protest against the regime of President Slobodan Milosevic. Demonstrators sprayed detergent and paint on the walls of parliament, calling again for reinstatement of opposition victories in last month's local elections. As they rallied, officials ordered the city's only independent radio station off the air because of its coverage of the protests. Meanwhile, the US warned Milosevic against the use of force in ending the demonstrations.

Japanese police caught a suspect accused of planting nerve gas in Tokyo's subway system last year. Acting on a tip, they arrested Yasuo Hayashi, a senior member of the Aum Shinri Kyo sect, without resistance on a remote resort island near Taiwan. Authorities said the arrest was "a breakthrough" after 12 people died and thousands of others were made ill in the rush-hour attack March 20, 1995. Sect leader Shoko Asahara is on trial for murder in the case.

The Lisbon conference of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe ended with agreement that each member country has the right to join the military alliance of its choice. The US and Eastern European countries rebuffed Kremlin protests that NATO posed a threat to Russian security.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin and US President Clinton will hold summit talks early next year, the Kremlin announced. But a Yeltsin spokesman said the date and site had not yet been agreed to. They last met in Moscow in April.

A key African politician said it was time for countries on that continent to nominate new candidates for the post of UN Secretary-General. Cameroon President Paul Biya, who also heads the Organization of African Unity, called for alternatives to Egypt's Boutros Boutros-Ghali, whom the OAU had backed previously. Biya's letter was seen as a major setback to Boutros-Ghali's hopes of remaining in office after his term expires Dec. 31. The US vetoed a second term for him last month.

Solutions to the growing problem of organized car theft were considered at an international conference in Warsaw. Delegates - among them law-enforcement experts, automakers, and insurers from the US and Europe - examined the viability of a global data base on stolen vehicles, with terminals at all border crossings and police stations.

Police barricades were back in place around Nobel Peace Prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi's house as the Burmese military government blamed "political elements" for the country's largest street demonstration in years. Crowds of as many as 1,000 students staged an all-night protest in Rangoon, the capital, Sunday, demanding an investigation of police brutality.

Mexico's attorney general was fired for his failure to solve two high-profile assassinations. President Ernesto Zedillo dismissed Antonio Lozano Gracia, the first opposition party member to join his cabinet, and replaced him with Human Rights Commission chairman Jorge Madrazo Cuellar. A spokesman said Zedillo was tired of the lack of progress in finding the gunmen who shot presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio and senior politician Jose Francisco Ruiz in 1994.

Search and rescue crews in north-central China were looking for survivors of a coal mine explosion that killed 91people, a regional official said. The blast, near Datong in Shanxi Province, occurred Nov. 27 but was not reported by government-run national news services. China's coal industry has a record of poor safety conditions.

Etceteras

"It's like filling a wheelbarrow with frogs.... Until we have everybody sign off on this, we don't have anything."

- Motion Picture Association of America President Jack Valenti, on getting TV executives to agree on a ratings system.

It's hard to know what to make of the news that in a recent survey, respondents ranked country singer Garth Brooks and actress Barbra Streisand as the entertainers they'd most want to hire for a private party. But the same Newsweek poll also ranked Brooks and Streisand among the nation's six least-liked performers.

Six years ago, the Aye Ranch in Kansas imported a herd of camels to control unwanted brush on its 10,000 acres - figuring that since they eat thistles in the desert, they'd eat them on the plains too. Wrong. The dromedaries quickly developed a taste for lush grass instead. But manager Dave McKinney says the experiment hasn't been a total failure. The camels also have been producing offspring, which he has been selling for a profit.

It can be said without fear of contradiction that the hottest trend in cuisine is habanero sauce. Literally. Ads on the Internet call the habanero the "hottest pepper on the face of the earth" - many times hotter than the jalapeo. If you'd like to try some with nachos, connoisseurs say the best way to extinguish the flames is not with iced drinks, but with milk or tomato juice.

The Day's List

Best-Liked Credit Cards

J.D. Power and Associates annually lists the credit cards in which users express the most satisfaction due to quality of service. Two categories are evaluated: basic/gold cards and cards offering rewards for frequent use. The top five ratings in each category for 1996 based on a survey of 10,170 cardholders:

BASIC/GOLD CARDS

AT&T Universal

Wachovia Bank

Optima

Bank of New York

Citibank

REWARDS CARDS

GM Card

Discover Card

AAdvantage Card

Sunoco Card

Citibank Ford

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