News In Brief

The US

President Clinton pledged to keep to a moderate course in his second term. In an address to the Democratic Leadership Council, he said balancing the budget would be his top priority.

Later at the White House, the president said he would be "exceedingly sensitive" about maintaining programs for the poor. His comment came after a memo from Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros surfaced in The Wall Street Journal. It complained about a $1 billion cut in federal housing subsidies proposed by the Office of Management and Budget. Cisneros is leaving the administration early next year. The president also announced new measures to prevent fires in the cargo holds of jetliners.

Clinton's top lawyer, Jack Quinn, is resigning, an administration official said. Quinn is the president's fourth White House counsel in as many years.

Air Force investigators are not recommending any disciplinary action against military personnel - from commanders to guards - for the June truck bombing that killed 19 US airmen in Saudi Arabia, a Pentagon official said. The Los Angeles Times reported that the US has plans to retaliate against Iran - including possible strikes against military targets - if officials determine that the Tehran government was behind the attack.

Jewish groups asked Swiss banks to give financial aid to elderly Jews, as investigations proceed into dormant accounts of Holocaust victims. Edgar Bronfman, president of the World Jewish Congress, said "a good-faith financial gesture" would allow some of those who suffered to see "in their lifetime some measure of justice done."

Consumer prices climbed a moderate 0.3 percent in November, despite a big jump in energy costs, while retail sales posted a surprising 0.4 percent drop, the Commerce Department reported.

The National Transportation Safety Board blamed the railroad industry and its US oversight agency for a fatal Feb. 1 derailment. It said the Sante Fe division of the newly formed Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railroad had ignored a recommendation for a backup electronic brake that would have prevented a freight train from skidding off the rails at the top of Cajon Pass in California. Two men were killed and one seriously injured in the crash.

The US allowed a former leftist Salvadoran guerrilla to enter the country as a paid informant, even though he was suspected of involvement in the slaying of six Americans in 1985, The New York Times reported. It cited contradictory claims in a summary of a classified report by CIA, State, Justice, and Defense Department inspectors-general that strongly suggests Pedro Antonio Andrade was deliberately slipped into the US, despite knowledge he was implicated in an attack in which four Marines and two US businessmen were killed at a sidewalk restaurant in San Salvador. The report concludes no laws were broken.

There's more and more sex talk during TV's prime-time family hour from 8 to 9 p.m., according to a report on network shows. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Children Now found 3 of every 4 family-hour shows contain some sexual content - up from about 65 percent in 1986 and about 43 percent in 1976.

US taxpayers should take over more than $1 billion in District of Columbia programs, a panel created by Congress said. The board overseeing the capital's finances said other cities have state governments to help with their costs.

Rep. Wes Cooley (R) of Oregon was indicted on charges of falsely claiming in 1994 state voter guides that he served in the military in Korea. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison.

Presidential adviser George Stephanopoulos is A-B-C's newest political analyst. The network said Stephanopoulos will contribute to a number of news programs, including "This Week" and "Good Morning America," as both correspondent and analyst.

The World

Israel vowed to "deepen" Jewish settlements on the West Bank after a settler and her son were killed in a drive-by shooting. The militant Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for the attack near Ramallah, which was quickly sealed off by Israeli troops. Prime Minister Netanyahu demanded the capture of the gunmen. In southern Israel, meanwhile, a Jewish farmer was arrested after killing a Palestinian worker he believed was attempting a break-in.

US "drug czar" Barry McCaffrey and Mexico's foreign minister announced a new plan to coordinate the investigation and prosecution of suspected traffickers. The plan also calls for more effective policing of the 2,000-mile US-Mexican border.

Riot police in Belgrade turned back a march by thousands of students on the home of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. But after the protest dissipated, even larger numbers gathered as the daily demonstrations continued into their fourth week. Visiting Italian Foreign Minister Alberto Dini said he failed to overcome the impasse between Milosevic and the demonstrators over the annulment of local elections won by the president's opponents.

A senior general warned that Burma's military government would "annihilate" anyone attempting to disrupt its work. Gen. Tin Oo's remarks followed six days of student protests in Rangoon and Mandalay. The government sent truckoads of soldiers and riot police to Rangoon City Hall to prevent another anticipated demonstration and cancelled the annual Rangoon Marathon, which is run on streets bordering two newly closed universities.

German prosecutors planned to detail charges today against auto-industry executive Jose Ignacio Lopez, who defected from General Motors to Volkswagen in 1993, taking seven other managers with him. The charges are expected to include the betrayal of trade secrets. Volkswagen denies any wrongdoing, but could be ordered to pay an estimated $5 billion in damages if GM wins the case.

Only hours after the Tajikistan government and rebel leaders agreed to a ceasefire, two bombs exploded in the capital, Dushanbe. There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attacks, which killed one person and wounded another. The two sides are scheduled to sign a peace treaty Dec. 19 in Moscow.

Police in Northern Ireland found what they said was an IRA mortar outside the walls of Britain's main Army base. A shell inside the weapon was ready to be fired. An anonymous telephone call had warned of a bomb in the vicinity, causing an evacuation of houses. Police assume the call was intended to attract, not disperse, human targets.

The Roman Catholic Church vowed to prevent Philippines President Fidel Ramos from serving a second term in office. The pledge came one day after Ramos refused to commit himself in writing to stepping down in 1998, as required by the Constitution. A church spokesman said moves by Ramos supporters to amend the charter, allowing him to seek reelection, would "reopen the gates to Marcosian dictatorship." The country's Catholic hierarchy helped to topple longtime President Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

India and Bangladesh signed a 30-year treaty that experts say could open new development on the subcontinent. The pact ends India's arbitrary control of the Ganges River to prevent silt from clogging the port of Calcutta. Some 40 million Bangladeshi farmers rely on the Ganges to prevent drought from March to May.

Etceteras

"People in America emphasize rights - rights. I'm not saying they're wrong, but the Chinese believe duty is far more important than rights."

- Hong Kong's newly elected, first post-colonial leader, Tung Chee Hwa.

Christians flock to Bethlehem in the West Bank each year for its sacred - and secular - Christmas celebrations. This time they may get more of the former and less of the latter. The cash-strapped city has only about $40,000 to spend on the fireworks, parades, and concerts. "We'll decorate," said Mayor Elias Freij, "but it won't be like in other years."

The No. 1 celebrity in Rhode Island may be a traffic cop. Tony Lepore is such a big deal that the city of Providence called a news conference to announce he was coming out of retirement for the holiday shopping period. His appeal? When he isn't exchanging high-fives with drivers, he wiggles, pirouettes, windmills his arms, and even drops to his knees to keep things moving. Perhaps you've caught his act in a national TV commercial for cellular phones.

No. 10 Downing Street is more than just the London address of Britain's prime minister. It's also a home page on the Internet, with a welcome message, a historical tour, and other features. Most people can't get near the house because of tight security. But now they can visit it at http://www.number10.gov.uk/

The Day's List

What's Behind "Soccer Mom" Phenomenon

The term so often heard during the recent elections was no misnomer, based on the growing number of children under 19 registered with the US Youth Soccer Association since 1980:

1980 649,022

1981 810,793

1982 947,212

1983 1,057,512

1984 1,160,999

1985 1,210,408

1986 1,229,244

1987 1,300,868

1988 1,410,840

1989 1,484,588

1990 1,615,041

1991 1,714,980

1992 1,824,369

1993 1,946,390

1994 2,101,532

1995 2,385,630

- Soccer Industry Council of America

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